PIAA baseball: Pennsbury athlete’s brother is his biggest fan
Pennsbury’s Jake Schilling will play both football and baseball in college. His brother, David, has been his biggest supporter throughout his career.
Nur B. Adam, Bucks County Courier Times
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed $8.1 billion education budget is a 21% increase compared to last year’s spending plan.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that 21% increase — roughly $1.3 billion — is not nearly enough to cover the estimated $4.1 billion necessary to properly fund public education, said Dan O’Brien, the Bucks County education coordinator for Public Citizens for Children and youth, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality health care, child care, public education and family stability.
“We support Gov. Wolf’s proposed investment in education that would be a game changer for the quality of education that kids across Pennsylvania receive,” O’Brien said. “Despite it still being short of the additional $4.6 billion that is needed to adequately fund all schools across PA, Wolf’s proposal would go a long way to ensure we are on the right track to build great schools for all of Pennsylvania’s kids, including right here in Bucks County.”
PCCY pins much of the funding gap on the education department’s “hold harmless” methodology, which PCCY notes fails to account for the massive shift in district enrollment, resulting in an education funding system that it argues is among the most inequitable in the nation.
These details are laid out in PCCY’s research report, “Hold Harmless: A Quarter Century of Inequity at the Heart of Pennsylvania’s School System.”
“The state’s ‘hold harmless’ funding approach is to blame. Implemented in 1992, hold harmless is the policy that school districts cannot receive less funding than they did the year prior,” read a portion of the report’s findings. “For the next quarter century, the state gave each district small annual increases with little regard for changing enrollment levels.
“Though the state implemented a funding formula in 2016, it applies only to new funding. That means 89 percent of state basic education funding is still distributed through the hold harmless-based method.”
Fixing the state’s education funding woes won’t be easy.
Via its report, PCCY states the first step must be maintaining the funding approach that began in 2016 in which new funds are distributed through a dynamic funding formula in accordance with enrollment levels and student and district needs.
Secondly, the state should eliminate the gaps between districts’ current levels of funding and levels that are adequate for providing a quality education by calculating adequacy targets; providing supplemental funding to districts that have the least funds relative to their student needs; and perhaps hardest of all, increase state public education funding by $4.6 billion.
“The best approach is to figure out how we can help children, advocate for children, and ensure access to high-quality education, particularly in the early years,” said United Way of Bucks County CEO Marissa Christie. “It is important to remember the rationale for this investment is return on investment. Longitudinal studies show that when we invest in youth in early years, those youths are unlikely to have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or a special place in school, and less likely to repeat a grade.
“We want to see those things go down; and want to see an increased graduation rate and that taxpayer funds are dedicated to those most at risk and in the most need.”
O’Brien did say the other way to quickly close that gap would be to use funds from the Pennsylvania’s share of the federal CARES Act, which is is roughly $4 billion. PCCY also supports educational reform legislation.
“Great states have great schools,” O’Brien said. “Pennsylvania has been underfunding our schools for decades, which has placed an unnecessary financial burden on local property taxpayers. We’ve waited long enough. The time is now.”
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