Advocates from around PA call on lawmakers to boost funding for Basic Education, Special Education and Career and Technical Education
(Harrisburg, PA) – Education advocates from around the state gathered today at the state Capitol under a new banner – PA Schools Work – to urge the state to pay its fair share for public schools, starting with enactment of the governor’s proposed public education funding increases in the 2018-19 budget. PA Schools Work is a non-partisan campaign calling on the state to adequately and equitably fund education so that all students can attend public schools that will ensure they graduate with the 21st century skills necessary for success in college or a career.
“Pennsylvania’s schools work when they have the resources to give students everything they need to succeed,” said Tomea Sippio-Smith, K-12 Policy Director at PCCY. “Adequately funding education is the most important investment Pennsylvania can make to sustain our economy and secure our future.”
“This coalition is all about reminding parents and grandparents, community members and taxpayers, school board members and legislators that we need to make fair and equitable funding for all of our public schools a top priority,” said Rich Askey, PSEA Vice President.
Jay Himes, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, discussed results of a new survey of school districts, which revealed that 55% of respondents are considering measures such as increasing class sizes, eliminating or reducing elective courses, summer school or kindergarten, or decreasing tutoring opportunities in order to get through the next school year, while 77% of districts anticipate increasing property taxes next year. “These survey results demonstrate the importance of PA Schools Work. Through the campaign’s efforts we hope to improve the financial condition of school districts across the Commonwealth, ensuring that the state pays its fair share and students get what they need.”
The first action of PA Schools Work is to urge the legislature to enact, at a bare minimum, the governor’s proposed 2018-19 budget increases in basic education of $100 million, special education of $20 million and career and technical education of $10 million.
“State funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) has remained stagnant for nearly a decade while the associated costs with training and education have risen. At the same time, employer and student demand for training has gone up,” said Jackie Cullen of PACTA. “An increase in funding for CTE would benefit the thousands of students seeking technical training in their communities that allows them to go directly from school to the workforce.”
“About one in six Pennsylvania students receives special education services. The demand is high, and school districts are doing their best to serve these students in their home schools,” said Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of the Arc of Pennsylvania. “Yet the state share of support for special education has declined from more than 36% of the cost incurred by school districts to less than 25% of the actual costs. We need to do better for these students.”