Nearly a dozen local superintendents issued an urgent call to the Governor and the Pennsylvania General Assembly today—the deadline for school districts to submit preliminary budgets to the state. Their voices amplified the concerns from school leaders from rural, urban and suburban districts at five simultaneous press events across the commonwealth. Collectively, they shared their struggles in balancing budgets and urged elected officials to increase investments in public schools.
Click here to watch the live Twitter feed of the press conference.
If school districts do not receive adequate funding, superintendents say they will be forced to shortchange students by curtailing programs, reducing staff and/or increasing local taxes for already overburdened residents.
If immediate systemic action is not taken, I fear the public school buildings in our local area will soon look exactly like the dreary, abandoned Steel Mills that once were symbols of community growth and hope. How long can we ignore local control and sit quietly while unfair mandates and costs continue to flow from the state capital to our local taxpayers? Without an infusion of additional state funding, we will be hard pressed to continue the great programming that we currently offer. ~Dr. Dan Castagna, West Mifflin Area School District superintendent
Currently, on average, Pennsylvania pays for only 37 percent of what it costs to educate students, ranking it 46th in the country for state share. Most other states cover 45 percent or more of basic education costs.
Unfunded mandates, charter school payments, rising healthcare and retirement costs continue to severely strain the Clairton City School District’s budget. Additionally, uncertainty at the Federal level, with possible loss of any Title funding and loss of any Access funding, will adversely affect the district from providing much needed services to the most vulnerable students. ~Dr. Ginny Hunt, Clairton City School District superintendent
Our vision in the Yough School District, similar to many schools in Western Pennsylvania, is to maximize student experiences and opportunities that will inspire individuality, innovation and perseverance, making possibilities limitless. Although there are many components to fulfilling that vision, the reality of the situation is that funding has become the most critical component of education. Although we do a phenomenal job educating students, the lack of funding is making our vision more and more difficult to achieve. ~Dr. Janet Sardon, Yough School District superintendent
Although Governor Wolf and House Republicans proposed a $100 million increase in the state’s 2017-18 budget for Basic Education Funding, they propose cuts to other essential school programs. For example, that same budget includes a cut of $50 million to school transportation. In addition, the increased financial burden for pensions, a state mandate, is projected to rise $140 million this fiscal year. Until budget problems are solved, school leaders must continue to figure out how to deliver a quality education to all students.
As the cost of educating our students steadily increases, the McKeesport Area School District maintains our commitment to promoting academic excellence in the face of devastating financial times. We are continuing to do more with much less as Charter School Tuition and Pension Costs deplete our resources. ~Dr. Mark Holtzman, McKeesport Area School District superintendent
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding estimates that to achieve fair and adequate school funding, the state must increase its investment in public schools annually over time by nearly $3 billion. This gap will only grow without consistent and significant annual investments.
Other May 31st Events:
- Bucks County: 10 a.m. at Centennial School District Board Room, 433 Centennial Road, Warminster, PA 18974
- Delaware County: 10 a.m. at Southeast Delco Kindergarten Center, One School Lane, Glenolden, PA 19036
- Montgomery County: 10 a.m. at Pottstown High School, 750 North Washington Street, Pottstown, PA 19464
- Lehigh County: 5:30 p.m. at Corner of 7th and Hamilton, Allentown, PA 18101
For fast facts on each school district, click here.