Bellefonte school board approves preliminary budget with 2.4 percent tax increase

The Bellefonte Area school board unanimously approved the 2015-16 proposed preliminary budget, which shows a 4 percent increase, at a meeting Tuesday night.

The $48.44 million spending plan comes with a 2.4 percent tax increase.

But Ken Bean, district director of fiscal affairs, said the proposed preliminary budget is a conservative plan.

“We write it high and do the best estimation based on a bad case scenario,” Bean said. “Its an estimated, guesstimated budget. We’re still not sure what state funding will be.”

Bean said that from what he hears, the state money “isn’t there,” despite Gov. Tom Wolf making education funding a major part of his campaign.

The governor will release state funding figures in March.

The board will vote on the preliminary budget next month.

In the proposed preliminary budget, 38.5 percent — or $18.66 million — would go toward salaries, according to a budget document.

Board President Jenna Moorehead said the board met earlier this month with the teachers union in a negotiation process.

“We look forward to working collaboratively,” Moorehead said.

Bellefonte Area Education Association President Kimberly Sharp agreed, and said she is “optimistic” the two associations will have a productive negotiation.