Pa. school districts taken to task over ‘rainy day’ reserves

    For years, Pennsylvania officials and Republican lawmakers have insisted school districts have more money than they’re letting on — in the form of rainy day funds.

     

     

    As of the 2012-13 school year, the 500 school districts across Pennsylvania had a total of $4.3 billion in reserve, according to the state Department of Education

    The total has grown even as schools advocates have protested state budget cuts.

    Republican lawmakers and others have called on school districts to stop building up their financial cushion.

    Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, said the amount of money is indefensible, given the outcry among schools about not having enough.

    But Joe Bard, head of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, said if some districts are able to set aside funding while others teeter toward deficits, it points to a larger problem with the way the state divvies up funding for education.

    “To think otherwise would mean that all of these school boards are just hanging onto money for no particular reason,” Bard said.

    Schools are trying to set money aside because of general fiscal uncertainty, he said.

    Districts are facing rising pension costs and years-long delays in state payments for school construction projects.

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