Pa. schools talk financial challenges despite being spared mostly in state budget

Pennsylvania school leaders are sussing out the implications of Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget.  Overall Kindergarten through 12th grade funding is about the same.  Schools are dealing with the Governor’s plan to get rid of the $100 million Accountability Block Grant Program and modify teacher evaluations.  Upper Darby School District Superintendent Lou DeVlieger said he’s glad the education budget wasn’t worse.”The mandates keep going up, the School Districts now are forking out a lot of money to the charter schools, money going to special education is through the roof and the retirement costs are going up,” said DeVlieger.  “We’re going to have to take teachers away from students, cut programs, and it’s a very sad time in the state.”Bensalem Township School District Superintendent David Baugh said he has an idea why the cuts weren’t larger.”I think there’s been a lot of political pushback on his sweeping cuts from last year,” said Baugh.  “It’s been devastating to the local schools.”Baugh said many districts may raise taxes to keep the lights on in the schools.”We have a $4 million gap between our required expenditures and our predicted income.  So we’re going to have to go to our reserves,” he said.Strath Haven High School Principal, MaryJo Yannacone, said she’s already seen the impact of past cuts to higher education.”Our graduates, about 11 percent of them attend community colleges and two year schools in the state and I’d like to make sure they have an affordable education following high school,” said Yannacone.  “We have had graduates who’ve had to make alternate choices for higher education because of the increased tuition, which is the natural result of the loss of funding.”Governor Corbett said he wants to provide financial flexibility to local school districts, while ensuring the accountability of teachers and school leaders.

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