HARRISBURG (June 29, 2012) Members of the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign (PSFC) express appreciation today to the General Assembly for sending to the Governor a $27.7 billion state budget which increases by $150 million state support for basic education over the amount proposed in February, 2012.
The budget approved by legislators restores to the Accountability Block Grant $100 million which the Governor had proposed to cut. These are funds which many districts use for early childhood education.
In addition, legislators added $50 million to the Basic Education Subsidy to begin to address the needs of the many school districts across the state that are experiencing severe financial distress. These districts generally are those hit hardest by last year’s state budget which cut nearly $900 million from state support to school districts. $10 million of this increase will be used for loans to these districts while the remainder will be provided as grants.
The Campaign also supports the decision of the General Assembly to reject the so-called Student Achievement Block Grant proposal requested by the Governor, choosing to maintain separate funding for the Basic Education, the School Employees’ Social Security, Pupil Transportation, and Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation appropriations.
The Campaign appreciates that the General Assembly recognized the unfairness of the proposed moratorium on school construction and renovation projects. By extending the date for the start of the moratorium to October 1, 2012, districts will continue to receive state reimbursement for the costs associated with projects that have begun or for which there has been significant planning.
“The vast majority of Pennsylvanians do not support the major education cuts made this past year and believe that state government has a major responsibility to assure quality learning opportunities for all students” said Ron Cowell, president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center. “While the Legislature made good decisions to not make things worse for districts and the students they serve, students all over Pennsylvania will continue to have fewer learning opportunities than existed just two years ago as a result of last summer’s huge cuts that are maintained by the new budget for 2012-2013.”
“Pennsylvania took a huge step back last year by cutting dollars that support academic programs and quality learning opportunities for students. This budget locks those cuts in place continuing reduced learning opportunities that include larger class sizes, fewer full-day kindergarten opportunities, less tutoring, fewer foreign language and Advanced Placement courses, and the elimination of summer school,” said Jim Buckheit, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
The Campaign also expressed disappointment that the opportunity to address the inequities in the funding of Charter and Cyber Charter Schools was not addressed. Auditor General Jack Wagner recently pointed out that changes to charter school funding policies could save local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars without costing the state any additional funding. In addition, the level funding of Special Education for the fifth consecutive year continues to place a burden on local taxpayers for all the increases associated with services for special needs students.
About the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign is an unprecedented coalition of more than 30 statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations representing hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators, school board members, administrators, and other concerned citizens advocating for adequate and equitable funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools.