PITTSBURGH, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A school district in Pennsylvania is looking to the land beneath it to fill budget holes by tapping into potential natural gas "fracking" revenues.
Blackhawk School District, 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, has joined a handful of other school districts hoping to cash in on the state's "hydraulic fracturing" natural gas boom, stateline.org reported Tuesday.
The district board voted in July to lease 160 acres of the district's land to Chesapeake Energy for $300,000.
If Chesapeake successfully extracts gas from the district's property, the schools would get an additional 15 percent royalty on the profits.
"That signing bonus could just be a decent drop in the bucket," Jerry Wessel, the district's business manager, said. "If there was a well under the high school -- you could see a million dollars over a 20-year period."
Blackhawk joins dozens of school districts across the country that have made similar arrangements with natural gas companies.
Many of the leases have come in Pennsylvania and Texas, two states where an energy boom has coincided with cuts in state aid for education.
Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, a trade group that represents Chesapeake and other companies, says natural gas extraction has been a financial boon for schools in the regions.
"All the school districts have benefited in one way or another," he said.