The Erie School District passed the 2022-2023 $251 million budget with a tax increase of 4.45%.
“The tax increase that was approved by the board tonight is a step to help to start to keep many of the student supports that we put in place as a result of the stimulus funds,” said Brian Polito, Erie School District Superintendent.
The district has the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, or COVID relief money for two more years.
This will cover:
- Mental health
- After school and summer programming
- Keeping class sizes to 20 or below
The increase in taxes is basically a way to continue funding those programs currently paid for by ESSER funds.
“A lot of our students have a lot of mental health issues right now. They need a lot of additional supports because of the pandemic. I think a good example of what’s happening is the gun violence we’re seeing in the community,” Polito said.
“They are sitting on a pile of money, billions of dollars that was given to them to give to districts like us because of the pandemic and it’s problems and they are holding that back from us and that’s really the problem,” said John Harkins, Erie School District Board Member.
While Harkins said he agrees that the programs are a benefit for the students, he said he’s holding out hope that the state will provide more funding.
“God bless the directors who wanted to responsibly accept the cost of the needed mental health concerns of kids who are affected by COVID, the shooting, and all the other strains and stresses of our kids,” Harkins said.
Superintendent Polito said the district will continue to watch the budget and will meet when necessary.