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Referendum Exceptions

A school district that adopts a preliminary budget with real estate taxes that exceed its index may seek approval for referendum exceptions to increase tax rates by more than its adjusted index. Section 333 of the Taxpayer Relief Act, as amended by Act 25 of 2011, provides for four exceptions that require approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (Department).

Detailed information about each referendum exception submitted to the Department and related submission procedures are contained in the following document.

Referendum Exception Guidelines for 2017-2018 (PDF)

School districts requesting referendum exceptions from the Department are required to submit exceptions via the online Referendum Exception System (RES). The following documents contain instructions on accessing and using RES.

PDE Portal Help and Support Documents
Data Entry and Submission Instructions for RES (PDF)

The Summary of Referendum Exceptions document, generated from within RES, must be signed by the superintendent and e-mailed to PDE at ra-RES@pa.gov.  

The four (4) files below are Microsoft Excel versions of the referendum exceptions that require PDE approval. These files are blank templates that require necessary data to be entered to properly perform calculations.

These files may be used to estimate the value of referendum exceptions. These calculations are considered estimates and may not match the official calculations performed by the RES application.

School Construction, Form A - Grandfathered Debt (Excel)    
School Construction, Form B - Electoral Debt (Excel)    
Special Education Expenditures (Excel)    
Retirement Contributions (Excel)

If one or more referendum exceptions are approved by PDE, a school district may increase the rate of a tax levied for the support of public schools by more than its index without seeking voter approval.

PDE shall approve the referendum exception request if a review of the data demonstrates that the school district qualifies for one or more of the exceptions. If the request for an exception is approved, PDE shall determine the dollar amount of the expenditure for which the exception is sought and the tax rate increase required to fund the exception. If PDE denies the request, the school district must (1) reduce the tax rate increase to no more than its index or (2) submit a referendum question for voter approval in the next primary election (for school districts with a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year).

Report on Referendum Exceptions

Section 333(j)(6) of the Taxpayer Relief Act requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education to prepare a report each year that describes the results of referendum exception submissions by school districts.

The files below contain reports prepared by the Department and provided to the following members of the General Assembly, as mandated by SS Act 1: the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.

2017-18 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2016-17 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2015-16 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2014-15 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2013-14 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2012-13 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2011-12 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2010-11 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2009-10 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2008-09 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)

2007-08 Report on Referendum Exceptions (PDF)