Pa. budget positions students for success with historic education funding increases, PSEA president says

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Pa. budget positions students for success with historic education funding increases, PSEA president says

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HARRISBURG, PA (July 8, 2022) – Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, commended Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers on the historic education funding increases included in the state budget the General Assembly has approved.

“This is a historic budget that will benefit the students of Pennsylvania,” Askey said. “It includes more than $1 billion in state funding increases for public schools, which will go to support educational programs that make a difference in the lives of our state’s 1.7 million students.

“Gov. Tom Wolf has made public education his number one priority since the day he took office. In this budget, he made it very clear that a significant funding increase in public schools is necessary to meet the needs of students and educators, improve the availability of mental health services, and keep school buildings safe. Because of his unwavering commitment to public education, that’s exactly what Pennsylvania public schools will get.”

The state budget includes the following increases in key school funding line items.

  • Basic Education Subsidy (Formula): $525 million
  • Basic Education Level-Up Payment: $225 million
  • Special Education Subsidy (Formula): $100 million
  • School Safety and Security Grants: $100 million
  • School Mental Health Grants: $100 million
  • Career and Technical Education: $6.1 million
  • Pupil Transportation: $124 million
  • Pre-K Counts: $60 million
  • Head Start Supplemental Assistance: $19 million

“We are very pleased that the lawmakers who voted for this budget joined Gov. Wolf in making public education and Pennsylvania students a priority,” Askey said. “Our students need all the supports and resources that they can get, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This budget takes a big step toward putting our students on a path to success.”

PSEA was also pleased to see several policy initiatives that lay the foundation for addressing the educator shortage included in the omnibus School Code bill that was approved alongside the budget bill. One new policy, in particular, will support school-based mental health professionals.

Of the $100 million for School Mental Health Grants, the School Code bill commits $5 million to a new internship stipend program designed to support school-based mental health professionals (school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and school social workers). These professionals are required to intern in schools for a minimum number of hours based on their specialty as part of their postsecondary education. Those internship periods are unpaid.

“Policymakers clearly recognized that in order to improve the availability and delivery of mental health services to students, we need more mental health professionals in schools,” Askey said. “The internship stipend program will financially support future professionals as they prepare to work in our schools. This is a small but mighty step forward, and one we hope to build on in the future.”

Askey is the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.