Centre County, Pa- With the start of May, school districts across the state begin to discuss their budget for the upcoming school year.
WTAJ spoke with each of the five public school districts in Centre County to see what property taxes could look like for the 2019-2020 school year.
One trend that all districts may see is an increase in healthcare benefit costs. But, as school boards continue to form their budgets, each district has a different maximum percentage for how high they can raise property taxes. Some district’s anticipate a raise, while others do not.
Below is a breakdown of each district’s current budget status for the 2019-2020 school year.
Bald Eagle Area School District
The district says they will not raise property taxes above the legal maximum, currently set at 3.1%. The district’s business manager, Craig Livergood, says there are no plans to reach that maximum increase. Livergood added that the district, “has experienced, and continues to experience, increases in staffing costs, special education costs, transportation costs, utility costs, and charter school tuition costs.”
Any tax increase would be used for the afformentioned expenses.
Philipsburg-Osceola School District
The district’s director of finance, Michael Conte, says the P-O school board has not fully discussed their budget. Conte said he believes the board will look into a tax increase for the 2019-2020 school year, but he added that a potential increase will not surpass the 3.3% maximum rate set for the district.
Conte also said the district is looking to potentially hire a new spanish teacher and noted that salary costs and retirement benefit costs have gone up… but not as drastically as other costs.
Conte said charter school costs and special education costs have gone up the most. He added that healtcare costs will increase 7% in the coming school year.
State College Area School District
SCASD says they’re looking at a larger increase in healtcare cost (compared to P-O school district).
“We are expecting a 10% or more increase… and that’s what’s been factored into our budget,” said Randy Brown, SCASD’s Finance and Operations Officer.
SCASD’s board has approved a proposed budget for a 1.95% tax increase.
Click here for a link to a separate story detailing SCASD’s 2019-2020 budget.
Penn’s Valley Area School District
PV’s School Board will meet Wednesday evening for a work session where they’ll discuss this year’s budget.
School Board President Chris Houser said he’s not sure if the district will need to raise taxes this year. Houser noted that two-out-of-three years the district doesn’t have to raise taxes. Last year, PV did raise their tax rate.
Houser told WTAJ that the district does not plan to exceed their maximum tax increase rate of 3.3%.
Key factors that could impact PV’s 2019-2020 budget (as listed on the district’s website) include:
A $250,000 or 2.48% increase in total salaries.
An increase in retirement contributions of $185,000
A Health insurance increase of $62,000
Increases in technology software and licenses of $50,000
Restores $55,000 in reserves and $50,000 in curriculum materials that were cut from the
current 2018-2019 budget
$100,000 for new safety and security measures
$60,000 for a new student information system upgrade/replacement
$80,000 for new bus camera system.
Consideration for providing mental health care and analysis for students.
Bellefonte Area School District
The district’s Director of Fiscal Affairs, Kenneth Bean, says the school board is looking to stay under the school’s 2.8% max tax increase rate for the 2019-2020 school year. However, Bean says says there are “still a lot of moving parts to consider”… like the need for an additional kindergarten teacher at Bellefonte Elementary School (to keep class sizes under 20).
Bean says the district is also looking to hire learning support staff at Pleasant Gap Elementary, a Chinese language teacher (mostly for secondary students) for the district, and a contract social worker for all elementary schools.
Bellefonte Area School Board will meet May, 7 to continue discussions on this year’s budget.
All Centre County school districts will approve their finalized budgets in June.