I heartily applaud the State College school board for their recent work investigating tax relief options for economically disadvantaged citizens and seniors on fixed incomes. I recognize the need to take action on State High, and I will be voting yes on the referendum May 20. But I also greatly appreciate that the board is looking for a way to address the issue of the high school in a way that does not unduly burden the most needy among us.
The board is considering a Senior Tax Exchange Program or tax reduction incentive volunteer exchange program, the sort of which has been supported at the state level by legislators in both parties. A good local example is Bellefonte School District’s SMILES (Senior Motivators/Mentors in Learning and Education Services) program, which allows seniors to volunteer up to 100 hours per year in the schools to qualify for up to $500 of tax relief. With our area’s need to improve workforce housing options in mind, the board is even looking for ways to expand these efforts to low-income households in the district.
While the board is only beginning the discussion and exploring options, their actions demonstrate their awareness of the need to balance the economic situation of voters in the community with a responsibility to maintain the high quality of educational experience and learning environment in our public schools.