Bethlehem winds down budget talks

At the school's third budget meeting, held at the middle school, Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe told residents that municipal employers are typically governed by the terms of collective bargaining agreements " contracts with employee groups " and that Bethlehem is no different.

The district has three collective bargaining groups: Bethlehem Central Teachers Association, Bethlehem Central United Employees Association and Bethlehem Principals Association.

In total there are 990 employees covered by the three unions in the school district, with 465 employees in the BCTA, 509 employees in the BCUE, and 16 principals and administrators in the BPA.

Salary and benefits make up about 72 percent of the district's budget.

For those who missed the last community budget forum, it can be seen on TV-18, Bethlehem public access, on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m.; and Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.

"We are now facing probably the most challenging budget process that this district has encountered in a long time," Tebbano said. "What we learned from our experiences last year though was to engage the community at the earliest possible time and engage them as directly and as transparently as we can through the process."

Tebbano said now district officials will take what they learned from the public budget forums and apply to creating a proposed budget that holds the line on spending, maintains the district's programs and keeps a reasonable tax rate.""

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