WE AGREE with John Baer (
"School Spending: Let's Get Sensible"
). School districts, like state government, must be smart and judicious when it comes to spending taxpayer funds.
But the column ignores the fact that the state has actually reduced its own funding of the primary state support for schools the last two years and has used federal funds to cover the cuts and provide increases. In order to make up for that reduction, the state would have to increase its spending on basic education significantly merely to restore each district to 2008-09 levels. How is funding reduced to levels before the federal stimulus not a cut?
But the state is also responsible for funding more than just the basic-education subsidy. What isn't accounted for in Baer's argument are the devastating cuts in state funding for Accountability Block Grants, charter-school reimbursement and other programs, like tutoring. These cuts exceed $500 million and are sure to have a negative effect on all of our students, particularly the youngest.
Baer also failed to quote some of the other data in our report, which indicates that many districts across Pennsylvania will be forced to make deep cuts in core programs in order to close these huge budget gaps, a situation exacerbated by the governor's proposed reduction in state aid to education of more than $1 billion.
* 71 percent expect to cut
instructional programs in the 2011-12 school year.
* 86 percent expect to
increase class sizes due to
cuts in instructional staff.
* Electives will be cut in 71 percent of the responding districts, 64 percent will eliminate or reduce tutoring and 51 percent plan to drop summer school.
* And 31 percent plan on
cutting full-day kindergarten, most by reducing it to half-day.
What's most troubling is that these cuts will have ripple effects for years. This is not a sensible course of action.
Jay Himes, Pa. Assn.
of School Business Officials
Jim Buckheit, Pa. Assn.