SHARON, Pa., April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera today traveled to Mercer County to meet with teachers, administrators, and officials at Sharon High School and discuss ways increased education funding and equity can help schools across the commonwealth achieve their goals.
"For the past several years, many schools have found themselves in the unique situation of having to do more with less, and many of those schools have overcome the challenges they faced despite those funding difficulties," Rivera said. "It is my aim to put those challenges in the past and ensure that schools in Pennsylvania do not have to make those tough decisions again. Moving forward, we must continue to make a fair and appropriate investment in our schools, so that they can focus on educating students rather than worry about dwindling resources."
During the visit, Rivera heard from participants about Sharon High School's priorities, achievements and challenges. Also present was state Representative Mark Longietti (D-Mercer), who represents the school district and agrees with the need for robust and comprehensive education funding.
"Governor Wolf and Secretary Rivera are committed to restoring critical funding for our school children, which was cut under the Corbett Administration," Longietti said. "Sharon schools lost more than $1,000 per student, one of the largest cuts in the state. Restoring that funding not only means smaller class sizes, which improves learning, but it also reduces the burden on local property tax payers."
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.
Michael J. Calla, Superintendent of Sharon City School District, specified just how a comprehensive investment in the commonwealth's schools could help the district better serve its students and teachers.
"The Sharon City School District is honored to have hosted Secretary Pedro Rivera's visit to the Sharon Middle/High School campus. The Sharon schools have a proud tradition of providing high quality educational experiences to each of our children and we are pleased to be able to share our successes and our challenges with the Secretary," Mr. Calla said. "Mr. Rivera's visit provided a wonderful opportunity for the members of the Board of Education, the Administrative team and the Instructional staff to discuss the Governor's focus on fair and equitable funding, the commonwealth's vision for career and college readiness and the needs of urban and socioeconomically distressed districts such as Sharon City. The Secretary's experiences as an educational leader in both the Lancaster and City of Philadelphia School Districts provide him with a unique background to speak to the current state of urban education across the commonwealth."
Today's visit to Sharon City 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.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman, 717-783-9802.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education