READING, Pa., April 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today during a "Schools That Teach" tour stop, Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera met with officials from the Reading School District to talk about the need for a robust state investment for Pennsylvania's 500 school districts and other educational institutions.
"Districts around the commonwealth need the state to be a strong financial partner in order continue to offer the quality education our students deserve," Rivera said. "Many districts like Reading are still recovering from reductions in funding in previous years and the negative impacts those cuts had on staffing, programming, and student support."
Monday's visit to Reading School District is the most recent stop on the Schools That Teach tour. Rivera has also made stops at Career and Technical Centers (CTCs) and colleges to discuss the 2016-17 budget proposal that Governor Tom Wolf unveiled in February.
The 2016-17 budget plan includes a $200 million increase to basic education funding (BEF) that would be distributed using the Fair Funding Formula created and unanimously adopted by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in June 2015.
The new proposal would also add $50 million for Special Education, $60 million to expand Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Programs, as well as investments to modernize Career and Technical Education programs, and bolster funding to the state higher education institutions to lessen the reliance on tuition hikes and fee increases.
During the visit, Rivera heard from school administrators, teachers, students, and school board members, who each shared their perspective on how an increase in state education funding would bolster the educational programming at Reading schools.
"I'm humbled Secretary Rivera visited Reading High School. This illustrates the momentum we have in the Reading School District," said Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, Superintendent of Reading School District. "Pennsylvania dignitaries are recognizing our successes, as well as understanding our challenges and finding ways to address those. It was encouraging to hear Secretary Rivera discuss equitable funding, career and college pathways and the sustainability of programming and resources. His discussion points align closely with Reading School District's strategic plan, which includes five areas of focus: academics, safe schools, fiscal responsibility/organizational effectiveness, communication and partnerships. Moreover, he explained the governor's focus on equitable funding. This is extremely important in cities like Reading, where the socioeconomic status in reliance on state funding is critical to address the needs of students from diverse backgrounds, including English language learners and special education, as well as underserved populations."
Following the school visit, Rivera addressed a group at the 150th Anniversary Celebration of Allentown City School District at the Liberty Bell Museum. He joined state Representative Pete Schweyer and other local officials, teachers and administrators from the school district, and local community leaders to discuss the department's ongoing initiatives to improve education for every student in Pennsylvania.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education