BURGETTSTOWN (KDKA) — As the state budget stalemate drags on, at least one area school district superintendent fears emergency money from the state won’t last long, and school districts could end up right back in limbo.
“As he indicated, it’s emergency funding, and we are certainly in a state of emergency here,” said Burgettstown School District Superintendent Dr. James Walsh.
Even with the emergency funding from Gov. Tom Wolf, the crisis is far from over.
But at least for now, Burgettstown schools will not borrow $4 million from PNC Bank nor will it close school for 1,160 students and 155 teachers and staff.
“We’ll be back to school on Jan. 4,” said Dr. Walsh. “Ideally, we’ll have state money come in to the district to continue to pay our bills, pay our teachers and run our buses, and we will keep a close eye on legislators as they get back to work and see where they will go from here.”
This Christmas holiday was filled with concern from parents and students alike.
“I think it’s really good that we at least have funding so the school doesn’t have to shut down,” said Eric Coudriet, a student. “I think it’s bad that we have to have emergency funding for it though, but at least we have the funding to stay open.”
“I’m glad that they did put it through so the kids can go back to school,” said Michelle Dzuba, a parent. “They were worried about not going back to school.”
But Dr. Walsh says the emergency funding leaves him with a lot of questions.
“What does emergency funding mean? How much is that to be? Is that going to be enough? And how long will that last will it sustain us?” he says.
After a little research, Dr. Walsh figures the money will only sustain the district for a few months.
“If you run out of money in a few months, and there is no budget, we are right back where we left off,” he said.
So until word comes down from Harrisburg that a budget has been passed, Burgettstown, like other school districts that rely heavily on state funding, will continue pinching pennies.