Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Area schools get funding update

The Bald Eagle Area School District board found out at Thursday night’s meeting that Gov. Tom Corbett signed the state budget — more than a week after deadline and without putting additional money back in its budget.

The district approved a 2014-15 budget last month of $29.1 million — a $1.2 million increase from last year.

Its largest chunk of change from the state comes with basic education funding. This year, it’s level at $7.854 million.

“Normally we get at least a 2 percent increase from the state,” said John Gribble, district business manager.

The district’s special education and Ready to Learn Block Grant funding increased, but “only enough to subsidize the shortfalls the state and federal doesn’t cover,” Gribble said.

He said that state special education funding increased by $24,000, bringing the budget to $1,182,538, while the RTL grant increased from $123,000 to $244,847.

The grant includes $241 million in Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. That money would help support schools where students prove to be reading- and math-ready by third grade, and help allow additional training to teachers to support early literacy STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and other customized student needs.

This year’s district taxes are expected to cover about $6.8 million, but the district is in a unique position, with its Homestead/Farmstead property relief tax, Gribble said.

“In 2003, they decided to reduce the real estate tax and divert it to income tax,” Gribble said. “If you live in this district, we offer the Homestead/Farmstead exclusion.”

This year’s exclusion is $749, Gribble said.

“So if your taxes were $900, then it would be reduced by that number,” Gribble said.

According to the Pennsylvania Auditor General Office, property owners can apply for the tax exclusion through Centre County. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on facilities used for agricultural purposes, on at least 10 acres and as the primary residence of the owner.

Additionally, the school board approved the hiring of three teacher positions each at $31,701 annually.

It includes biochemistry and math teachers at the secondary level and a primary music teacher position, said Superintendent Jeffrey Miles.