GOP lawmaker blasts Corbett for lagging on school improvements

    A top Republican in Pennsylvania is expressing frustration with Gov. Tom Corbett and the state Department of Education for not making sure a school reform package passed last year.

    At one point during an Education Committee meeting, Sen. Jeff Piccola, R-Dauphin, quoted the movie “Cool Hand Luke.”

    “What we have here is a failure to communicate,” he said.

    He hammered away at the secretary of education for failing to take the lead on the kinds of reforms that would help cash-strapped school districts, including Chester Upland in Delaware County.

    “We’ve got to move on these reforms or the costs — we in the general assembly will have no further, will have no other alternative, but to increase spending on education and the local taxpayers, likewise, because you haven’t changed the underlying system,” he said.

    The upbraiding comes just after a federal judge ordered the state to fork over several million dollars to prop up the nearly destitute Chester Upland School District.

    But Piccola said the solvency issue is bigger than the Chester Upland district, that it affects schools districts in and around Harrisburg, Duquesne City in Allegheny County, and Erie.

    Education secretary Ronald Tomalis said the administration has been working closely with endangered school districts.

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