Pennsylvania Secretary Rivera Continues "Schools That Teach" Tour in Big Spring School District

Stresses need for increased basic education funding in the 2015-16 state budget

Aug 14, 2015, 10:33 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

NEWVILLE, Pa., Aug. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera continued his "Schools That Teach" tour yesterday in Cumberland County, where he sat down for a discussion with administrators in the Big Spring School District to discuss the need for the increased school funding generated through Governor Tom Wolf's proposed severance tax on gas drilling.

"Like many of the districts that I have had the opportunity to visit over the past seven months, Big Spring School District has felt the devastating effects of reductions in state support going directly to the classroom, coupled with an increase of requirements and expectations placed on schools by the state and federal government," Rivera said. "The struggles facing Pennsylvania schools is the reason why Governor Wolf continues to advocate for additional funding for education in the 2015-16 budget and convey the message that funding for education is not a cost; it is an investment in Pennsylvania's future."  

During the roundtable discussion, Secretary Rivera heard from administrators about how the district plans to invest in professional development opportunities for staff, institute personalized learning supports for struggling students, and invest in innovative learning options through the additional $817,002 in basic and special education funding proposed for the Big Spring School District in Governor Wolf's 2015-2016 budget.

"It is reassuring to know that the Secretary and this administration is quite aware of the challenges facing Pennsylvania schools and are working collaboratively with all parties involved to create the best system possible for every student in the Commonwealth," Big Spring School District Superintendent Richard Fry said. "That coupled with the proposed increase in classroom funding within Governor Wolf's current budget proposal, which equates to $452,077 for the Big Spring School District, illustrates the commitment of this administration to public school students throughout the state. In the case of Big Spring, that funding would help offset cuts made since 2011 and restore much of the state funding for our full-day kindergarten program."

Investing in professional development for educators and administrators, setting up supports for struggling students and invest in innovative learning opportunities were among the options provided in a letter Rivera sent to the superintendents of all 500 districts in March to ensure the education funding proposed in Wolf's 2015-2016 budget is spent directly on students in the classrooms, while providing administrators flexibility to invest in programs most needed in their schools.

In the letter, Rivera called on districts to submit plans to ensure this new investment reaches the classroom and to measure results for Pennsylvania's students. Ninety-six percent of Pennsylvania school districts across the commonwealth submitted funding impact plans to the state Department of Education, outlining how the governor's proposed $400 million basic education funding increase will be invested directly in classrooms.

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


SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education