PA House Education Budget Is Woefully Inadequate To Meet Student Needs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deborah Gordon Klehr, [email protected], 215-346-6920
PA House Education Budget Is Woefully Inadequate To Meet Student Needs:
It’s Time to Stop Shortchanging our Children
June 28, 2015
By a vote of 112-77, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a budget yesterday that continues to underfund our schools and does not reflect a true commitment to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania’s children receive a quality education. On net, the House’s education budget only provides an additional $8 million for K-12 public education and the average increase per school district is only 1.7 percent. The Legislature’s budget appropriates only a fraction of what many say is required to serve the documented needs of students. It is also less than 25 percent of the new money recommended in the Governor’s budget for basic education and only 20 percent of new money recommended for special education.
“This is a woefully inadequate investment in the future of our public school children,” said Education Law Center’s Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr.
The Senate is expected to vote on the same budget today. “We urge the Legislature to appropriate $410 million in new dollars for basic education and $100 million in additional special education funding,” said Klehr. Restoration is needed to close the gaps created by the 2011 reductions in public school funding, which crippled our schools and exacerbated funding disparities across school districts. “First restore the cuts, then apply the funding formula as adopted by the Basic Education Funding Commission. This is a thoughtful, well-crafted formula based on the real costs of educating students, but it is only as good as the funding that is driven through it.”
The nearly $1 billion in cuts to basic education funding in 2011 cost 20,000 educators their jobs, forced students into larger class sizes, and eliminated key academic programs and basic services.
Special education had been flat-funded for six years until last year’s modest increase. This year, the Governor’s budget included an additional increase of $100 million in special education funding. This is essential for the nearly 270,000 students with disabilities across Pennsylvania. The Legislature’s proposed $20 million, a 1.9 percent increase, is not enough to meet our students’ needs. “Children with disabilities cannot afford to wait and we cannot prolong the reductions in special education budgets,” said Klehr.
“Our goal is for all children to learn in adequately resourced classrooms. We hope the Legislature will commit to a long-term investment in our children. The current budget falls far short of this goal.”
The Education Law Center-PA works to ensure that all children in Pennsylvania have access to a quality public education, including children living in poverty, children of color, children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, children with disabilities, English language learners, and children experiencing homelessness. For more information, visit www.elc-pa.org or follow @edlawcenterpa on Twitter.