Budget Theme: Schools that Teach
As he has in previous years, Governor Wolf highlighted the need for “schools that teach” in his 2017-2018 budget address. Today during his budget address, Governor Wolf stated his belief that “there should be no greater priority for our government than education our children.”
There is an ever-present need to deliver high quality education to schools across our Commonwealth, and the 2017-2018 budget proposed by Gov. Wolf provides a continued increase in education investments throughout the state. For our youngsters, he proposes a $75 million increase in high-quality early childhood education, which will allow more than 8,400 additional children to enroll in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts (44.1%) and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (2.3%).
For our school-aged children, the Governor is proposing a $100 million (1.7%) increase in Basic Education, which will be distributed throughout the new Basic Education Funding Formula, enacted just last year, and a $25 million increase in Special Education, allocated through the formula adopted by the Special Education Funding Commission.
The Governor is also proposing $2 million in new funding for students in our poorest school districts. A combination of funds from state and federal government, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, will subsidize school improvements efforts at three districts serving 15 persistently low-achieving schools.
Finally, in order to compete in a 21st century economy, we need a well-educated workforce. To that end, the Governor is proposing an $8.9 million increase for the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, to be used to develop individual college plans that address performance, affordability and accountability while partnering with employers to create structured career pathways.
Beyond funding, Governor Wolf is proposing some initiatives that will directly impact our students.
The cost of fuel and the number of students transported are in decline, while the number of buses and state subsidies for pupil transportation are on the rise. A new proposal to update and modernize the formula could yield $50 million in savings. Additionally, school districts will be encouraged to competitively bid pupil transportation contracts.
And since it’s the most important meal of the day, the 2017-2018 budget provides for $2 million in state funds to leverage and maximize up to $20 million in federal funding to enhance current school breakfast programs. Competitive grants will prioritize efforts to encourage schools to adopt alternative breakfast delivery models. Funds will be targeted to those schools with student populations with more than 60 percent of children receiving subsidized meals.