Bellefonte school board weighs budget, stadium project

bmilazzo@centredaily.comMay 28, 2014 

— The latest proposed Bellefonte Area School District 2014-15 budget was presented to the board Tuesday night before it is voted on June 10 — still without knowing how much state funding is coming its way.

Kenneth Bean, the district’s director of fiscal affairs, indicated that officials at the state level don’t know if they can come to a final budget by deadline June 30.

The board will still vote on the district’s final budget at its next meeting, despite any delays by the state, and will then adjust any tax figures that could be affected after the state makes its decision.

“(We) don’t know what will happen at the state level,” Bean said.

Bean is still evaluating the budget, which could change in the next two weeks, but “not by much,” he said.

The proposal calls for a $46.2 million budget — a $1.45 million increase from 2013-14.

What that means for taxpayers is that residents of a home in the district assessed at $50,000 can expect to pay about $2,435.38, about a $64.84 increase.

The budget includes a 1.3 percent increase in salaries; a basic education subsidy that decreased by $400,000, or 5 percent; and a reduction of total federal funds by 7 percent.

According to a document provided by the district, about $6.5 million will fund health insurance that remained unchanged from last year.

With a $1.6 million food service budget, school breakfast and lunches will be $1 for breakfast districtwide and $2.20 for lunch at the elementary level and $2.50 at the secondary levels.

Prices were increased at the elementary schools by 5 cents, and by 10 cents at the secondary level.

The athletic fund is $525,000.

Plans were also unveiled for a multiphase, multimillion-dollar football, track and parking lot project at the high school that could cost up to $4.6 million, Bean said.

The district has consulted the ELA Group to design a new, handicap-accessible facility that could break ground next year, said board member Rodney Musser.

The project is currently in the Phase I remodeling process, Bean said. He added that all financial figures are only estimates.

Superintendent Cheryl Potteiger said the district would hold “capital campaigns” to help fund the project that could include getting sponsors to name the fields, along with a brick walkway where people can purchase a brick in honor or memory of someone.

Board member George Stone proposed using money saved by staff cuts to go toward the project.

“I get tired of hearing we never have the money for any of this stuff,” Stone said. “I think we do have the money. … I think the money is there.”

But Musser doesn’t agree.

He said he’d rather see money saved to help taxpayers instead.

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