PSEA urges lawmakers to reject harmful cuts to education
The House of Representatives is due this week to vote on a state budget. PSEA urges lawmakers to vote against a budget that slashes funds for public schools and other programs serving Pennsylvania’s children and most vulnerable citizens.
“Cutting funding for public schools is a shortsighted decision that is wrong for Pennsylvania’s students and taxpayers,” said PSEA President Testerman. “Before our representatives vote to cut $1 billion from public schools and almost $500 million from health care, services for people with disabilities and vulnerable children, we must caution them that this budget will hurt millions of Pennsylvania students and their families.”
The House Republican leadership earlier this month announced a budget plan which reduces Gov. Tom Corbett’s nearly $1.2 billion in proposed public school funding cuts to almost $1 billion in cuts. Testerman said the House Republican leaders’ budget was a positive move, but does not go far enough to restore funding cuts.
Testerman cited a report released last week by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) on a survey of districts’ plans for the 2011-12 year. According to respondents, as a result of expected cuts in state funding:
• 71 percent of districts expect to cut instructional programs;
• 86 percent will increase class sizes due to layoffs of instructional staff;
• 31 percent will eliminate full-day kindergarten;
• 64 percent will eliminate tutoring;
• 51 percent will drop summer school; and
• 71 percent will cut elective courses.
“If schools lose $1 billion in funding, school boards will be forced to raise property taxes or increase class sizes and cancel programs that have been proven to work,” Testerman said. “Now we see many districts are doing all three. In addition to the astonishing programmatic cuts revealed by the administrators’ survey, school districts have already announced plans to furlough nearly 3,000 teachers and support staff, and the number is climbing daily.
“PSEA members are asking their state lawmakers to use the state’s $500 million budget surplus to restore these funds,” Testerman said. “The House should also enact a drilling tax on natural gas to ensure the state budget is not balanced on the backs of children and Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable adults.”
Visit www.psea.org/schoolcuts to find information on House Bill 1485's impact on individual school districts.