The North Penn School Board has approved a preliminary budget for the next school year. The spending plan totals almost $204,000,000 and leaves the door open for a 2.9% property tax hike. That's more than one-and-a-half times the index established by state law and translates into about $86 for the average homeowner. The district can raise taxes above the index if it gets the approval of Harrisburg for budget referendum exceptions. The exceptions are for special educaion and the district contribution into the state public school employee retirement system. They are called budget rferendum exceptions because the voters of a school district must approve any spending plan that includes a property tax increase in excess of 1.7%. Final budget adoption will happen in June.