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PSEA: New School Year Brings New Funding Challenges

Students heading back to school in PA are facing even bigger class sizes and fewer programs.
Students heading back to school in PA are facing even bigger class sizes and fewer programs.
August 20, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. - As summer draws to a close, roughly 1.7 million kids in Pennsylvania are getting ready to head back to school. What they're likely to find when they get there are bigger class sizes, fewer teachers and not as many programs as they used to have.

At issue is what the Pennsylvania State Education Association says is a fiscal crisis facing schools. PSEA President Mike Crossey traced the problem to the education cuts pushed by Governor Tom Corbett since he took office.

"That's three years that they're short almost a billion dollars every year," the teachers' union leader said. "If you look at that cumulatively, they're several billion dollars in the hole. You know, then he turns around and he says schools are failing."

Corbett has blamed a $4 billion budget deficit for the need to slash education funding.

Crossey declared that the Corbett deficit defense falls short when it comes to corporate tax breaks.

"While this governor cut a billion dollars from our school districts, he turned around and he's given out, since he's been in, new tax cuts to corporations of $1.3 billion."

Crossey said Corbett also has eliminated a school funding formula, used before he took office, designed to make school funding equitable based on need. According to Crossey, the new math doesn't add up.

"The Wyomissing School District, which is a pretty wealthy school district, their cut per student was about $115 per student under this Governor's budget. (In) Reading, the poorest city in America, (in) the school district there, the students were cut $1138 per student. "

A recent report by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators shows that three out of four school districts plan to reduce instructional programming in the upcoming school year, half plan to increase class sizes and more districts have either already cut or are likely to cut elective courses, full-day kindergarten, tutoring and summer school programs.

See the full report mentioned in this story at pasa-net.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA