State College

State College school board examines budget in light of governor’s funding proposal

Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget could provide a boost of about $826,000 in state funding for the State College Area School District, but Business Administrator Randy Brown said not to bank on it.

The possibility of increased funding is not reflected in the school district’s preliminary budget due to likely political discussions about the state’s budget. Brown recommended that the possible funding, if it is received, be allocated to non-recurring expenses.

Not much has changed to SCASD’s $136 million preliminary 2015-16 budget since it was revealed Jan. 13.

The school district’s budget is still about $10 million more than the current budget and calls for a 5.49 percent tax increase. The budget includes a 1.9 percent tax increase that follows the state-mandated Act 1 index and a 3.59 percent increase related to the referendum debt.

The tax increase would amount to $156 more a year for the average district taxpayer, Brown said in the meeting, which would cost the average taxpayer $2,988 in real estate taxes.

The updated budget, however, included a reduction of about $200,000 in real estate tax revenue due to a proposed tax rebate program the board is evaluating.

The board approved PlanCon Part F for submission to the state Department of Education by a vote of 8-0 with the stipulation that it “will not enter into (State High project) construction contracts until it has received written approval for PlanCon Part F” from the state. Board member Dorothea Stahl was excused from the meeting.

PlanCon F approval by the state is required prior to signing construction contracts for school districts to receive state funding for PlanCon projects, according to Ed Poprik, the district’s director of physical plant.

Construction for the State High project is scheduled to begin this summer, and Poprik does not expect PlanCon Part F approvals to interfere with the project’s scheduling.

The board also approved a change in health insurance providers by a 8-0 vote.

The district’s three-year contract with HealthAmerica ends June 30.

After partnering with Conrad Siegel, an actuarial consultant, and interviewing prospective providers, the district recommended Highmark Blue Shield as its next provider, which the board approved. Highmark’s financial offer, administrators felt, was the best and it would keep the district’s prescription insurance company the same.

The board also voted 8-0 to approve the administration’s recommendation to work with Northwest Financial Group to reinvest proceeds of the district’s general obligation bonds.