BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A new initiative, Level Up, sets aside $100 million for underfunded schools in Pennsylvania. DuBois, Huntingdon, Punxsutawny, Penn Cambria, and Altoona are among the districts in Central PA receiving support.

Altoona Superintendent Dr. Charles Prijatelj said the money will support the STEM and biomedical programs they started about two years ago, but have had trouble maintaining financially.

“With COVID and with the deficits we have been dealing with, quite frankly, all of those programs are in jeopardy,” said Dr. Prijatelj. “By having this additional funding it ensures that we’ll be able to continue those programs and continue to supply a work force.”

He said this can give Altoona graduates the opportunity to excel in major companies, based right in their city.

“One of the biggest things is the biomedical program and you think about the largest employer in Altoona is UPMC Altoona,” said Dr. Prijatelj. “You talk to the bigger corporations in the area like Sheetz, and he’ll say his number one position he needs to fill is computer programming.” 

The superintendent said the previous funding formula had a negative impact on Altoona, but said Level Up should fix that.

“This is closing the gaps that were created by that.”