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Estimate: Jobs Bill May Mean Six Thousand Jobs Saved in PA Schools

August 13, 2010

HARRISBURG, Penn. - The state's largest union representing teachers says, thanks to new federal money, a planned state cut to Pennsylvania's education budget won't hurt nearly as much. As part of an effort to bridge Pennsylvania's $280 million budget gap, Gov. Rendell is proposing a $50-million cut to basic education funding. But, $380 million in federal funds coming to the state from the jobs bill passed this week will instead help save thousands of teaching and support staff positions in schools.

Jim Testerman, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says, even without that $50 million from the state, about two-thirds of school jobs that might otherwise be targeted for cuts, can now be spared.

"With these additional resources, we can figure out how to make sure that the children in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania have the class sizes, the programs and the resources they need to be successful."

Testerman says congressional critics of the jobs bill have a short memory.

"The challenge I have for them is that, when it was banks were too big not to not be bailed out, they bailed them out. I think the education system in this country is too big not to be bailed out."

As it stands, Testerman says the jobs bill has the potential to save 5,900 positions in Pennsylvania schools.

"That's good for our schools, it's good for our kids and it's good for our communities."

Many Republicans in Congress have labeled the federal bill a bailout to states and a payoff to teachers' unions. Critics have also said, since the jobs bill money is a one-time-only deal, it could ultimately leave a big question as to how school districts will make up the difference next year and beyond.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA