BELLEFONTE — During a difficult time when schools are working to develop alternative plans to continue teaching students while generating less revenue, the Bellefonte Area School District agreed to a 2020-21 budget that comes with no tax increase for residents.
The millage for district residents will remain at 50.2131. Last year, the district raised the millage rate by 1.5 percent.
“It was a very difficult budget year with the pandemic going on that caused us to reduce our revenues quite extreme, well over $1 million, due to people being unemployed and everything related to that, economic-wise,” said Ken Bean, director of fiscal affairs, during a “Budget Talk” video series on the district web page.
To match the budget with the lower revenue, the district must eliminate six positions that were vacated by people retiring or leaving the district. The district also used fund balance from the athletic fund and some fund balance that had been set aside for future building to help offset a tax increase.
“Another area we were very pleased with is that the federal government was able to come through with a little over $344,000 for the district that we were able to use,” said Bean. “And my shouts go out to Sen. (Jake) Corman and Rep. (Kerry) Benninghoff. They were able to freeze our subsidy payments, not reduce them, so we were able to continue that funding as well.”
Bean said this year’s budget was difficult, and next year’s is looking to be a challenge as well.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the budget. It is not going to get any easier next year with the continued pandemic and the continuing of people being laid off and so forth. We continue to look at ways to save money and consolidate positions whenever possible,” said Bean.
The district has not refilled the assistant superintendent position while Tammie Burnaford serves as interim superintendent following the retirement of Michelle Saylor, who had served as superintendent since 2016.
“We didn’t hire a new assistant superintendent while she is performing these duties, so we are saving money there,” said Bean.
He added that the administration and staff found ways to “reduce money whenever and wherever possible.”
“I believe we are still able to provide an excellent education for students in our district,” Bean said. “I was very pleased with the numbers and that we were able to keep the millage the same. We will keep trying to reduce the budget and look for cost efficiencies wherever we can.”