Schools in our area will be getting just a tad more state money this year, but superintendents say the little bit will go a long way in these economically tight times.
The state announced on June 30 that schools would be receiving more than $9.75 billion this year, $257 million more than last year. The money streams through basic education funding, school employee's Social Security; pupil transportation; nonpublic and charter school transportation; Special Education funding; and school employees' retirement.
Weatherly Area School District's total share of the state funding is $4,336,305 2.60 percent more than last year, according to the state Department of Education.
"Overall, the increase gave us $39,000," said Weatherly Area School District Superintendent Thomas McLaughlin. "Any increase in these trying times is helpful to school districts. We chose not to raise taxes this year, even though we had a $560,000 shortfall. The shortfall was absorbed through our fund balance. We also had a few retirements that we chose not to replace to help our budget process."
In Weatherly, each mill of property tax, if the district collected 100 percent of what was owed, would generate $143,000. McLaughlin said the collection rate is usually about 90 percent. The district levies a 40.46 mill tax rate.
The Panther Valley School District will get $10,397,199 this year, a 2.52 percent increase over last year.
"We will receive about $19,190 more than we anticipated this year in basic subsidy. We are not gaining too much more since we started the budget process," said Panther Valley Superintendent Rosemary Porembo.
This year, the district kept the property tax the same, at 55.690 mills, on the Carbon County side, and increased the rate by 0.02 mill in Coaldale, Schuylkill County. Each mill generates about $161,000, providing everyone pays their tax bill.
Palmerton Area School District's state funding increase was 3.178 over last year. The total this year is $9,103,301.
"The increase we received did not have any type of positive impact on our budget process," said Superintendent Scot Engler. "With the actual adoption of the state budget on June 30, our total is now $6,241,862 an extra $13,750 over the proposed budget."
In Palmerton, which this year kept the property tax levy the same as last year, at 51.44 mills. If 100 percent of the money owed is collected, each mill would generate $306,243.
Here's a breakdown of local school districts' total state funding, according to the state Department of Education:
Ÿ Jim Thorpe: 2012-13: $5,203,173; 2013-14: $5,467,504 (5.08 percent increase)
Ÿ Lehighton: 2012-13: $11,749,563; 2013-14: $12,108,132 (3.05 percent increase)
Ÿ Palmerton: 2012-13: $8,822,848; 2013-14: $9,103,301 (3.178 percent increase)
Ÿ Tamaqua: 2012-13: $9,778,267; 2013-14: $10,073,366 (3.017 percent increase)
Ÿ Northern Lehigh: 2012-13: $9,658,102; 2013-14: $9,944,101 (2.96 percent increase)
Ÿ Weatherly: 2012-13: $4,226,094; 2013-14: $4,336,305 (2.60 percent increase)
Ÿ Panther Valley: 2012-13: $10,141,203; 2013-14: $10,397,199 (2.52 percent increase)