State College, Pa- Monday evening, the State College Area School District’s (SCASD) board unanimously approved a proposal for the 2019-2020 school budget.
The budget included a 1.95% property tax increase.
“1.95 percent, out of the last three years, would be right in the middle,” said Randy Brown, SCASD’s Finance and Operations officer, in reference to tax increase rates from previous years.
Brown says the 1.95% increase would amount to about $72 more in taxes for the average property owner in the district.
The maximum SCASD could raise property taxes this year is 2.3%. Brown says the proposed increase would most notably help fund new hires.
“We have some special education needs, because of the needs of our students, we need to hire some additional teachers… because of the location of some of our elementary students that are projected to be in different buildings next year. We expect that we might need two additional elementary teachers,” Brown said.
Other anticipated costs for the 2019-2020 school year include the need for additional gifted program teachers, an elementary instrumental music teacher, and seven new custodian positions. Non-recurring costs for the district will include an update to the reading intervention program, new march band uniforms, and a new grand piano for the high school.
More than 50% of SCASD’s budget expenses are for instruction and nearly 30% go to support services.
SCASD says they’ve done their best to keep the tax rate down, citing examples of how they’ve cut costs.
“We’ve been buying Chromebooks for the past several years, and we used to spend several hundred dollars on a macbook for students to use each and every day. And now with the Chromebook, we’ve reduced that costs drastically,” Brown said.
With Monday’s approval from SCASD’s school board, there’s now a 30 day timeline for the final budget to be approved. The meeting for that approval is scheduled for June, 3.
Currently, Brown says there’s been no indication that the school board will change their current budget proposal.