Lawmakers approve state budget plan that makes public education a priority

My PSEA Login



Lawmakers approve state budget plan that makes public education a priority

The state Senate and House of Representatives have passed a 2018-19 budget plan that makes key investments in public education. Lawmakers also approved related bills enacting a number of pro-public education policies.

It is a great example of what happens when thousands of PSEA members speak up and advocate for a budget and education policies that put our schools and students first.

“Investing in our public schools is a top priority for the people of Pennsylvania, and this budget reflects that,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “It ensures that Pennsylvania’s students have the resources they need to get the best possible education and that our public schools remain a strong foundation of our commonwealth.”

Key investments in our schools

Gov. Wolf, working in partnership with pro-public education lawmakers from both parties, has made public school funding a top priority throughout his term in office. Together, they have worked hard to craft a budget that makes key investments in our schools.

The budget plan includes:

  • $100 million more for basic education funding.
  • $15 million more for special education funding.
  • $30 million more for career and technical education initiatives.
  • $25 million more for pre-kindergarten and Head Start funding.
  • $6.9 million for community colleges.
  • $15 million for PA State System of Higher Education schools.

Enhancing school safety

Lawmakers approved a separate bill that provides school districts $60 million in school safety grants for a menu of security, training, prevention, and counseling programs. It also creates the Safe2Say program, a safe and anonymous way for parents, school staff, students, and community members to report dangerous or criminal acts, threats, or instances of bullying.

Read more about the new comprehensive school safety program here.

A look at the school code bill

Lawmakers also approved a school code bill with several important education policy changes. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Outsourcing transparency: Reforms were enacted to protect dedicated school support professionals from having their jobs farmed out to for-profit companies in costly outsourcing deals. School districts must now provide a public review, identify costs, and hold a public hearing prior to the subcontracting of services or positions.
  • Changes to secondary certifications: An amendment to Pennsylvania’s new educator furlough law, Act 55, ensures that experienced educators with multiple certifications are not furloughed simply because they teach in a program area a district intends to cut. This change addresses one of the major flaws in Pennsylvania’s new furlough law passed last year.
  • Keystone Exam graduation requirement: The current moratorium on requiring students to attain at least a proficient score on the Keystone Exams in order to graduate was extended by another year until the 2020-21 school year. Students will continue to take the Keystone Exams, but it will not affect their ability to graduate.
  • Lead testing in schools: This provision creates a mechanism to help protect students and school employees by ensuring the drinking water in our schools is safe.
  • Vocational certification: This reform helps attract and retain quality career and tech educators by lessening the burdensome certification process currently required.

PSEA members make a difference

This budget and related education policy measures reflect the impact that PSEA members have when they speak out for pro-public education policies.

PSEA members sent thousands of emails, made thousands of phone calls, and held hundreds of face-to-face meetings in Harrisburg this month.

“PSEA members make a difference,” McCracken said. “Together, we made our voices heard advocating for the tools and resources that our schools need to give Pennsylvania’s students the very best education. This budget package includes those essential resources, and I commend Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly for making public education a top priority.”