PDE Secretary's testimony includes no plan to help financially strapped schools
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis in his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 27 offered no real plan to support school districts spiraling into financial distress.
PSEA President Mike Crossey pointed out that Gov. Tom Corbett’s $860 million in school funding cuts from a year ago, with more cuts proposed this year, are so deep that some school districts are struggling to finance their daily operations. Nearly every school district has already cut programs and staff.
“Across Pennsylvania, the school funding crisis is impossible to ignore, but the Secretary offered no solutions to fix it,” Crossey said. “We can’t sweep the education of Pennsylvania’s students under the rug. We need to fix this problem before it gets worse.”
Crossey indicated that Secretary Tomalis and others in the Corbett administration continue to dispute that any state funding to Pennsylvania’s public schools has been reduced since the governor took office, a position at odds with regular local news reports about the consequences of this year’s school funding cuts.
“Every day the news media reports about school districts forced to cut programs, increase class sizes, cut staff, and impose fees to pay for student activities,” Crossey said. “To suggest that these funding cuts didn’t happen flies in the face of reality and delays a solution. Our students can’t wait. They deserve more than excuses.”
According to separate analyses from PSEA and other education organizations, Gov. Corbett’s FY 2012-2013 proposed budget would cut another $100 million from classroom instruction in the public schools. If the governor’s budget proposal is enacted, he will have cut $995 million from the public schools and the students who learn there since he assumed office.
Among the state-funded programs eliminated are the charter school reimbursement program, accountability block grant program, education assistance tutoring program, and dual enrollment program.
“Programs that work for students get cut when school districts don’t have the money to pay for them. It’s just that simple,” Crossey said. “Pennsylvania can do better. We can resolve this crisis if we all work together as the adults in the room.”
Crossey pointed out how critical it is to focus on providing the funding struggling schools need to pay for programs that are proven to work for their students, like those outlined in PSEA’s Solutions That Work proposal. These Solutions That Work include early childhood education, smaller class sizes, additional learning time for struggling students, and parental involvement.
Learn more at www.solutionsthatworkpa.org.
“The first step is acknowledging that there is a funding crisis in public schools across the state,” Crossey said. “I hope this administration will come to that conclusion soon and start working to solve it.”