August 28, 2013

Report: School funding crisis worsens and students suffer

A recent report by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators shows that Gov. Tom Corbett's unprecedented school funding cuts are pushing Pennsylvania school districts deeper into distress, forcing them to cut key student programs.

Read a copy of the report here.

“There is a school funding crisis in Pennsylvania,” Crossey said. “It started when Gov. Corbett cut nearly $1 billion from the public schools, it's getting worse every day, and students are the ones who are suffering because of it.”

Key findings from the survey:

  • Program cuts: 75 percent of school districts plan to reduce instructional programming in the 2013-14 school year.
  • Nearly 20,000 education jobs have already been eliminated. In 2013-14, more than 64 percent of districts will leave positions vacant and 20 percent will furlough current employees
  • Nearly 50 percent of school districts expect to increase class size in 2013-14. This year, 51 percent of school districts increased class size, on top of 70 percent of school districts that increased class size in 2011-12.
  • Students in 37 percent of school districts will have even fewer elective course offerings. Elective courses were reduced by 43 percent school districts in 2012-13 and 44 percent of school districts in 2011-12.
  • Twenty-three percent of school districts plan to delay the purchase of new textbooks in the coming year, following 40 percent of districts delaying textbook purchases in 2012-13 and 44 percent in 2011-12.
  • Tutoring programs for students needing extra help will be cut or reduced in 22 percent of school districts, on top of 32 percent of districts decreasing these programs in 2012-13 and 35 percent in 2011-12.
  • Summer school programs will be eliminated in 13 percent of school districts, hurting students' ability to make up academic credit to graduate on time or reach the next grade level. This follows 21 percent of school districts cutting these programs in 2012-13 and 19 percent in 2011-12.
  • Twenty percent of districts plan to reduce or eliminate extra-curricular activities, including sports, or to charge students fees to participate, on top of 30 percent of districts making these changes in 2012-13 and 33 percent in 2011-12.

Crossey pointed out that stopping another round of corporate tax breaks will provide state revenues that can be used to start restoring the governor's funding cuts.

“If Gov. Corbett would stop giving tax breaks to big corporations and start investing in our students, we could resolve the school funding crisis and do what's right for our students,” Crossey said. “These cuts are hurting students, and they need to stop.”

The survey shows that three years after Gov. Corbett's unprecedented school funding cuts, more and more school districts are cutting programs, increasing class sizes, reducing course offerings, and eliminating tutoring and summer school programs.

It also indicates that a growing number of school districts are teetering on the edge of financial distress, drawing down their reserves to cover growing budget deficits, and cutting educational programs students need to learn.

“School districts most in need of state aid are the hardest hit by the governor's school funding cuts,” Crossey said. “They've been driven into distress by this crisis.”

Related story: Capitolwire: Corbett says 'We reduced education funding if you look at it as a whole.'






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