What's a school district to do?
The state's 500 school districts are getting mixed messages from Harrisburg.
If you're looking for a sense of how things are going in Harrisburg between the new Democratic Wolf administration and the Republican Legislature all you need to do is read the mail of any school superintendent in the state.
First, right after Wolf proposed new big spending for public education, GOP leaders fired off a missive to school districts essentially saying, yeah, well, don't count your chickens.
And Philly, as you know, is hoping for lots more chickens.
The letter, signed by Senate Republican leadership, including Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, notes Wolf's proposed $400 million increase in the multi-billion-dollar basic education subsidy and other new spending hinges on hikes in taxes "unsupported throughout the General Assembly."
Message: as you're making up your budgets (which are due before the Legislature finalizes its budget in July or whenever) don't figure on figuring in what Wolf wants to give you.
Team Wolf labeled the letter as "really disappointing" political posturing.
Ah, but now comes a letter from the Wolfites asking districts to say how exactly they plan to spend all their new largess -- a message exactly opposite the GOP's.
Signed by Wolf's nominee for education secretary, Pedro Rivera, it essentially says get ready to party and notes that "no Legislature has ever reduced a governor's basic education funding proposal."
Well, for starters, appropriations folks in the GOP House tell the Harrisburg Patriot-News that in 2006, the Legislature did reduce a governor's basic education funding proposal, knocking $300 million off a request by then-Gov. Rendell.
So, what's a district to do? I'd say rely on history and the state's penchant for partisan politics. In other words, don't believe either side, wait for a final budget cut and, you know, hope for the best while preparing for less.