HARRISBURG, Pa., May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 92 percent of Pennsylvania school districts across the commonwealth submitted funding impact plans to the state Department of Education, outlining how the $400 million basic education funding increase proposed in his 2015-2016 budget will be invested directly in classrooms. The governor's budget provides a $1 billion investment in education at all levels through a severance tax on natural gas.
"I have traveled across Pennsylvania and listened to educators and administrators detail their plans to ensure additional education funding is invested in the classroom to benefit our children," said Governor Wolf. "Through a commonsense severance tax on natural gas, my budget invests $1 billion in education at all levels, including an additional $400 million in basic education funding. In turn, my administration asked school districts to submit plans that are tied to proven strategies for learning and will enable districts to maintain full-day kindergarten, bring back valuable programs, reduce class sizes, and hire back educators."
- 197 school districts in Pennsylvania will use the funding to maintain or expand high-quality early childhood education or pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs.
- 98 school districts will apply the funding toward reducing class sizes in elementary school classes.
- 87 school districts will restore programs and personnel that districts were forced to eliminate as a result of massive cuts over the past four years. Districts will bring back guidance counselors and librarians and restore extra-curricular programs designed to enhance learning outside the classroom.
Governor Wolf's proposal, called the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act, is expected to generate over a billion dollars by 2017 by enacting a reasonable severance tax on natural gas extraction.
"As a result of four years of massive cuts, school districts were forced to eliminate programs and personnel, as well as increase class sizes," Governor Wolf continued. "My proposed budget offers an important opportunity for districts to do a comprehensive review of their needs and focus on education as a foundation for long-term economic growth."
The governor's budget restores cuts to K through 12 education made since the 2010-2011 school year, and invests an additional $400 million in basic education and $100 million in special education.
Each school district's share of the $400 million basic education increase will be directed to one or more of the 14 evidence-based strategies outlined in Acting Secretary Pedro Rivera's March 17 letter to superintendents.
"This flexibility was critical to allow superintendents to invest in the programs that would make the most difference in their districts," Rivera said. "I am delighted with the overwhelming support from school districts and the appreciation of Governor Wolf's proposal to secure the much-needed funding for our schools."
In addition to ensuring resources are invested in the classroom, Governor Wolf's budget proposal requires clear benchmarks for student performance and progress.
The Department of Education is in the process of reviewing each funding impact plan for accuracy in funding calculations and has already approved 400 plans. All feedback will be provided to districts by June 15.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sheridan - 717.783.1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor