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School boards deserve respect for tax decisions

This week brought a glimmer of positive news from some of our local school boards, including Williamsport Area, Montgomery and Muncy.

Though things could change between now and final passage of school budgets by June 30, at least two districts so far have decided to try to hold the line and not raise taxes this school year.

It’s not that they couldn’t use a bump in revenue to sustain their operations. Indeed, Williamsport is facing a $2.1 million deficit, and a lot of juggling — including the elimination of 14 positions through attrition — will be needed to hold the tax line this year.

The preliminary budget was very difficult in light of the current economic conditions, noted Dr. Timothy S. Bowers, district superintendent.

Still, he understands that many, many households are challenged by job losses brought on by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“We all understand the economic conditions of our community right now and it was important for all of us to try to figure out how we could deliver a preliminary budget that did not show a tax increase,” Bowers said this week.

In Muncy, school board members said the impact of the pandemic on the economy and employment is a major factor in resisting any tax increase this year.

Muncy is looking for ways to cut costs, as are other districts.

We live in an era when an annual tax increase is almost a given, with the only question being whether school districts can function without going beyond the Act 1 index set by the state.

So watching not one but three districts take this painful action this week is one we must applaud, knowing the reality that people far and wide are experiencing. And yet we also realize how very important the education of our children is not only for them but for the greater good of our communities and our future.

It’s a difficult balancing act, to be sure.

These decisions show great compassion for struggling taxpayers.

We have huge respect for that.

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