Bellefonte school district OKs preliminary budget, discusses schedule in wake of several snow days

The Bellefonte Area School District board approved a preliminary 2014-2015 budget Tuesday night that calls for a $2.17 million increase.

The $46.92 million budget includes $13.53 million in state funding, while the rest would come from real estate and income taxes, said Ken Bean, director of fiscal affairs.

About 68 percent of the total budget includes salaries and benefits.

“I need to stress this is just a proposed, preliminary budget and it’s just that, based on my estimates and on our five-year plan, which is a worst-case scenario plan and sets us up for the future,” Bean said.

The final budget will need to be approved by June 30.

What the proposed increase means for taxpayers is that residents of a home in the district assessed at $50,000 can expect to pay about $2,454.75 in taxes — a $84.21 increase from the previous year.

Within the proposed budget for next year, no programs are expected to be cut. Current programs will be expanded and more will be added, said Keith Hamilton, board president.

Those programs include engineering and language courses, and the possibility of partnering with local universities such as Penn State and Lock Haven that give students credit for classes, said Superintendent Cheryl Potteiger.

The board also approved its annual funding for Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, $1.4 million. CPI serves about 125 students in the district.

At the meeting Tuesday night, parents also stressed their concern about how snow days would affect their child’s education. In addition, the district said graduation has been pushed back to at least June 13.

Ginny Newman, the mother of a Bellefonte High senior, said the more the date gets pushed back, the more inconvenient it is for students to plan their futures, including some having to choose whether to attend graduation or move on with the next steps of their lives.

With six snow days this year — and the possibility of more, Potteiger said the district is trying to find ways to make up for the lost days.

“We have to start being inventive on how we do that,” she said.

More information will be available at the next school board meeting 7 p.m. March 4.