The Bedford Area School District renewed its contract with Superintendent Dr. Allen Sell at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board voted unanimously to approved the new five-year contract for Sell, who has led this district since November 2010 after serving about three years as an assistant superintendent.

“Dr. Sell has served this district with absolute distinction over the last 10 years,” board President Tom Bullington said at the meeting. “… Not only is he well respected within the district, but certainly within the (Intermediate Unit), and truth be known throughout the state and the region.”

The new contract has a starting salary of $138,000.

Sell thanked the board for the continued support.

“It is an honor to serve in this district and this community,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to continue doing it for a while.”

In separate action, the board approved its tentative budget for the 2020-21 school year with a 1.5% tax increase.

Bullington said the increase was the middle ground of what the district was able to impose under the state index.

The about $31 million spending plan has a budget deficit of about $1.3 million. The district typically budgets for a deficit of about $1 million to make sure it has the spending authority to cover expenses during the year.

“It’s a little on the high side for us,” Bullington said about the deficit, but added that the district has been “very conservative” with revenue projections this year due to the uncertainty with state funding due to the pandemic.

Board members Jeremy Oldham, Deryl Clark, Peder Flaaen and William Ross each said they approved the 1.5% increase to cover anticipated expenses associated with the coronavirus.

“With all the uncertainty coming up, we almost need to do something to make sure we have money available,” Oldham said.

Sell also updated the board on funding the district will receive through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“In my 10 years in this position, this is one of the most fluid situations I’ve been involved in,” Sell said. “It just changes instantly.”

As it stands now, Sell said the district will receive about $371,000 to assist with expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic that closed school buildings March 13.

Sell said the money is distributed to local school districts from the state using the same formula as Title 1 funding, which is based on criteria like population and low income families.

Sell said the funding can be used to cover a variety of expenses, including technology upgrades and the purchasing of protective equipment.

“They’re pretty broad, but one of the things we’re told is we’re not to use it for salaries unless those salaries are directly related to the virus,” he said about the allowable expenditures.

The funding can cover costs from March 13 through June 30, 2022.

Sell noted about $2,000 of the funding will go to a private school in Blair County that has nine students from the district enrolled, per the funding guidelines.

“That’s the appropriate per-student share,” he said.

Sell added the district has already spent a significant amount of money upgrading technology and making sure all students have access to internet for the district’s online education.

“What we’e already spent is already in six figures,” he said. “It’s not 300,000, but it’s six figures”

Sell said some of the money will be used to upgrade the district’s network capacity at a cost of $71,000, with $49,000 from E-rate, and the local share from the CARES grant.

Contact Will DeShong at wdeshong@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 150.

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