PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — School children, their parents and taxpayers are in for more pain, according to a report issued by the Pa. Association of School Administrators and the Pa. Association of School Business Officials on the financial health of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts.
“As they head into another new school year next fall, they’ll continue to struggle, continue to cut programs, continue to cut staff, and not provide students with all they should be receiving,” PASA executive director Jim Buckheit told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
A survey of districts found that one in seven planned to furlough teachers next year — on top of 23,000 teachers and staff already furloughed between 2010 and 2012.
Many more districts plan to cut academic programs and extracurricular programs, including sports.
“We have a very serious problem with education funding,” says former South Fayette superintendent and Allegheny Intermediate Unit Executive Director Linda Hippert.
Hippert says Harrisburg has no long-term funding plan for schools.
With the state no longer funding 50 percent of school district costs, notes Hippert, “every single superintendent, every school district, every board is struggling every year.”
What’s even more disturbing about this report is the conclusion that three-quarters of school districts will have to raise property taxes next year to deal with Harrisburg’s failure to confront this funding issue.
And that includes districts thought better off, says Upper St. Clair Superintendent Patrick O’Toole.
O’Toole: “We are going to have to make cuts into programs that we value here and that are really good for kids.”
Delano: “And you may have to raise taxes higher?”
O’Toole: “And we may have to raise taxes higher, and that’s something we don’t want to do because we’ve had to do it in the past.”