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Controversial School Budget Vote

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Hundreds packed the auditorium of the East Stroudsburg Area North High School Monday night to give school board members their thoughts on the proposed $142.5 million budget, including a $100 activity fee for students in grades seven through 12.

"They're talking about charging these kids money, $100, just to go into sports and a lot of people can't afford that, and if they can't afford that, what happens to your sports? What happens to the extracurriculars?" asked Eda Dafol of Saw Creek.

Mostly there was talk of the proposed 2.5 percent tax increase.

"I'm getting tired of it. I'm retired and I'm on a limited income. I just wish they would lower the taxes or give me a break," said Eugene Grodzki of Middle Smithfield Township.

"All I know is we're on Social Security and we can't afford more taxes. They're too high now," said Donna Peter of Porter Township.

Many asked board members to use millions in a reserve fund to close the budget's $10 million budget shortfall and prevent the tax increase and extra fees.

In the end, the board voted to approve the spending plan for the 2012-2013 school session.

For some, the question now is how will they afford it?

"It's not only the taxes, it's everything else, because everything else is connected. I know they need money to operate but they need to be able to draw the line somewhere," said Rich Peter of Porter Township.

The school board is also considering closing either J.M. Hill Elementary or Smithfield Elementary. A vote on that is scheduled for June 4.

Board members have until June 30 to finalize the entire budget.