On "Schools that Teach" Tour, Secretary Rivera Discusses the Future of Pennsylvania's Education System

Feb 26, 2016, 14:29 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today during a "Schools That Teach" tour stop, Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera met with officials from the Steelton-Highspire School District to discuss the two paths we have for the future of Pennsylvania schools.

Rivera stated, "Pennsylvania has a choice to make: we can invest in our schools and students, and eliminate the deficit to put Pennsylvania back on track or we can continue on the same path that has led to deficits, insufficient education funding, and increased property taxes. It's time to give our children an education that they deserve and will prepare them for the 21st century workforce."

"Pennsylvania students and teachers have done their best despite dwindling state dollars," Rivera added. "Over the past five years Pennsylvania endured tens of thousands of educator layoffs, program cuts, and overcrowded classrooms, now we must choose the path that restores education funding and creates a system built on equity so that students at Steelton-Highspire, and in districts across the state, are given the best possible opportunities to learn."

Earlier this month, Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $200 million increase to basic education funding as part of his 2016-17 budget proposal. The investment, which represents a 3.3 percent increase, is in addition to the $377 million increase contained within the 2015-2016 bipartisan budget compromise. The agreement was supported by bipartisan majorities in both chambers before Republican House leaders failed to hold a final vote. The new funding 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 the district's acting Superintendent Travis Waters, teachers, and administrators, who shared challenges the district has encountered as a result of the reductions in funding beginning in 2011.

"When I think of some of the things we are doing here at Steelton-Highspire, I believe we're still doing an outstanding job despite the challenges we are facing," said Acting Superintendent Travis Waters. "When we talk about education funding, it's so important to fight for schools to be funded equitably. And yet despite the current lack of funding sources, we're doing a lot of positive things, and we are eager to see how appropriate education funding and a fair funding formula can help our district succeed."

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman, 717-783-9802.            


SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education