MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel Area School District is projected to receive approximately $120,000 more in state allocations in 2013-14, but also will experience an approximate $5,000 reduction in special education funding.

Mount Carmel Area Superintendent Bernie Stellar said Friday that Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2013-14 budget allocates $7,831,951 to the district compared to $7,713,493 for the current fiscal year. He said the projected $1,045,037 in special education funding is approximately $5,000 less than what was allocated for 2012-13.

The district was able to save substantial money through cuts, retirements and administrative personnel changes in the past couple years.

The superintendent said district officials continually look for ways to curb expenses, but don't anticipate any personnel cuts in the upcoming fiscal year.

There are 157 teachers and 22 aides employed district-wide.

Stellar said the district's biggest concerns are increases in retirement expenses and medical insurance benefits.

"There have been predictions that medical insurance

costs will rise 9.1 percent per year in coming years," Stellar said.

But he noted an assigned fund balance established by the district will help combat the anticipated increased costs in retirement and medical insurance benefits.

"We have taken steps in the last two years to counteract that in the future," he said. "We have set aside approximately $2.5 million in the assigned fund balance, which was established to help us control retirement expenses, medical insurance costs and capital improvements."

Stellar said the district also is hoping legislation is passed that will properly address funding issues with charter schools to make them more accountable, while being more fair to public schools in terms of educational expenses.

The superintendent said, "Student and staff safety and student achievement remain the district's top priorities, and we hope to receive enough funding so we can continue to achieve those two goals," he said.

(Stellar was not available for comment for a story earlier this week that discussed local school superintendents' reactions to Corbett's budget proposal.)