Bellefonte school board approves preliminary budget, mobile app

The Bellefonte Area school board approved the district’s 2015-16 preliminary budget of $48.44 million at a meeting Tuesday night.

The proposal is $2.25 million more than the current budget.

But Ken Bean, district director of fiscal affairs, said it’s a “conservative estimate” that will change — and likely decrease — when the state releases its budget next month.

The proposal calls for a 4 percent tax increase, however Bean said he did not include how much more that would mean for the average district taxpayer.

“I didn’t even figure it out because it’s not applicable to this (preliminary) budget,” Bean said.

The board also approved the launch of a district mobile application for Android and iOS mobile devices, created by teacher Sue Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said she previously created an app for the performing arts, but wanted a more broad application that pulled all district information together.

It only took about a day to create, she said, and she is working with school principals to make sure all school information is correct.

“I just wanted to get something where people could get information as quickly and conveniently as possible,” Zimmerman said.

The vote approved the purchase of the Diamond plan for app support at a one-time cost of $1,999.99.

Zimmerman said the app could be launched on Google within the next two weeks, and through Apple within two months.

Other board business

• Board President Jenna Moorehead announced her resignation effective March 9, to pursue an out-of-state opportunity.

Moorehead said the board will need to vote on a new president during a reorganization meeting and look for a new member.

The open seat will be posted on the district website.

• Bellefonte Area Education Association President Kimberly Sharp also addressed the board asking for better communication between the board and the teachers union; and asked for the board to look into enhancing safety training for staff that could be incorporated into the school day and/or during in-service days.

The BAEA extended the invite to set up a time to sit down to discuss future collaborations.

• The board also approved the 2015-16 school calendar, which has school starting Aug. 31 — about a week later than the current year, to avoid Grange Fair conflicts, Superintendent Cheryl Potteiger said.

The last day of school will be June 3, 2016.