January 10, 2012

PSEA President says school funding crisis is getting worse

As school districts struggle to compile their FY 2012-2013 budgets, the school funding crisis caused by Gov. Tom Corbett’s unprecedented $860 million in public school funding cuts is getting worse and forcing districts to cut more essential programs that help students succeed.

Unless funding for Pennsylvania’s public schools is restored in this year’s state budget, another round of painful cuts to essential public school programs is inevitable.

“Every day, we hear about more cuts to programs that have helped students succeed in the classroom,” PSEA President Mike Crossey said. “Every day, the school funding crisis gets worse. If we don’t do something about it, it will escalate and even more students will lose the programs they need to get the education they deserve.”

According to Crossey, urban school districts with the greatest need for resources were cut the deepest in Corbett’s budget, forcing painful reductions in programs and staff that have already resulted in dramatic class size increases and the elimination of tutoring programs and course offerings.

Crossey pointed to the funding crisis in the Chester Upland School District in Delaware County.

Even though Chester Upland is one of Pennsylvania’s most financially challenged school districts, Corbett’s budget cut its state funding by $8.4 million, or 14.4 percent. In December, Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis rejected the school board’s request for an advance on its next state subsidy payment, forcing a showdown that may result in the school district closing for lack of resources.

Chester Upland’s teachers and support professionals have agreed to continue working, even without pay, for as long as they are able.

“Chester Upland’s state funding was cut by $8.4 million this year. They are literally out of money,” Crossey said. “If public school funding isn’t restored in this year’s state budget, this will start to happen in other school districts. It’s just a matter of time.”

However, even more affluent suburban school districts are feeling the pinch and preparing for another round of cuts.

“There is a crisis right now,” Crossey said. “But it will get worse unless we do something about it this year. It is time to put Pennsylvania’s students first and make the right choices in this year’s budget.

“If we don’t do that, the education our students receive from the public schools will be in serious jeopardy.”

Visit www.psea.org/schoolcuts to find out how Gov. Corbett's $860 million in public school funding cuts impacted school districts across Pennsylvania.




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