Survey Says: Students In PA Pay Price for Further Education Cuts

From Public News Service-PA (http://www.publicnewsservice.org):

(05/29/12) HARRISBURG, Pa. – Bigger class sizes and fewer class offerings are likely byproducts of massive funding cuts to public schools in the Keystone State. So says a new survey from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. It shows, too, that nearly half of the districts questioned fear for their financial future if funding trends don’t take a different direction.

Michael Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says the survey results are symptomatic of the $860 million hit to K-12 funding in last year’s budget, and nearly $100 million more in cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett in the next state spending plan.

“Sixty percent of the school districts are talking about increasing class sizes again. Yet 58 percent of school districts are saying they’re going to eliminate art and music and phys ed and elective-type programs.”

Crossey says education needs sustainable sources of funding. One approach is fixing the so-called Delaware loophole, which he says allows too many big companies doing business here to pay little if anything in corporate taxes. Another is adjusting a natural gas extraction tax.

“If we would just tax the extraction of natural gas at the same level as West Virginia and Texas, that would bring in 250-some million dollars in year one, and upwards of five hundred million dollars every year thereafter.”

Crossey says that as lawmakers get down to the wire on the new state budget due June 30, there are opportunities for them to do right by kids.

“We should be supporting our schools and we should be investing in jobs and not dismantling our public education system.”

Gov. Corbett has said of his latest funding proposals that they will encourage taxpayers and school district officials to seek solutions other than having the state send more money. Authors of the new survey say it paints a grim picture for public schools in the state, especially when rapidly depleting fund balances run out.

See the full report at www.pasa-net.org.

Article posted at http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/26670-1.

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