FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chief Communications Officer
717.506.2450 ext. 3315
Tuesday, February 4,2020 [Mechanicsburg, PA] - On behalf of the 4500 locally elected officials it represents, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) responds to Governor Wolf’s proposed 2020-21 state budget on particular key issues that will impact our public schools.
“PSBA appreciates Governor Wolf’s increase of $100M to the Basic Education Funding (BEF) subsidy. This investment continues to drive the future of Pennsylvania by investing in our students. The Governor has also targeted a $25M increase into much needed special education services of which the student need grows every year. Additionally, we are highly pleased that he has given his attention and consideration to the charter funding equation that is presently in a state of dire imbalance,” stated PSBA Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Mains.
On the topic of charter funding reform; we are glad the Governor is pushing to address the special education tuition formula that currently results in overpayments to charter schools. Although the General Assembly revised the special education funding formula in 2014 to more accurately target special education resources for students identified with high, medium and low needs, this formula was applied only to school districts and not to charter schools. This system overpaid charter schools more than $100 million in 2014-15 and this creates an incentive for charter schools to over–identify children for special education services.
The Governor is also proposing charter school tuition formula changes that address the illogical payments to be more aligned with student costs. Public funds have been paid to charter schools in a manner that does not represent the actual cost it takes to run these programs. We commend the Governor for pushing for charter change and to address the overwhelming concerns of school districts. PSBA now calls on the General Assembly to go to work with the Governor to achieve these reforms and to find solutions that support schools where they need it the most.
On the need for school maintenance and construction investment; The Governor proposed an initiative intended to assist school districts in identifying and remediating lead and asbestos in schools – a crisis that is affecting both rural and urban schools alike.
“Schools have been struggling with maintenance and facility upgrades for years, leading to the current crisis we find ourselves in. PSBA is encouraged that the Governor and many legislators are focusing on this issue. This effort must be a priority as we move forward – our students and families are counting on us to address this crisis,” Mains said.
In the recent 2020 State of Education Survey 50% of school districts reported that they have postponed building renovations or maintenance due to the lack of a state reimbursement program for school construction projects. Further, 37% of school districts said that they would use a significant increase in Basic Education Funding from the state to help pay for building maintenance/renovation projects. These results help illustrate the desperate need for infrastructure investments in our public schools. PSBA looks forward to supporting and demonstrating the need for this investment in the state’s Plan Con program over the coming months.
On the minimum teacher salary increase; school boards recognize their responsibility to adequately compensate teaching professionals for their invaluable contributions to educating the community’s youth. However, school boards are justifiably concerned that the proposal to legislate an increase in the minimum teacher salary will result in increased salary costs for all teachers. This proposal will create a pay compression. Compression occurs when there are only small differences in pay for employees regardless of experience, skills, level, or seniority. The accepted solution to pay compression is to increase the salaries of other employees to return to a state where adequate space exists between employees on different steps of a salary schedule. Though only the minimum salary would be increased under this proposal, that increase would ripple throughout the salary schedule at the next collective bargaining negotiation as salaries at higher levels of the salary schedule are raised to avoid a compression. The financial impact will be felt by the schools, not just in the cost of the salaries, but also in increased pension and charter school tuition costs. In addition, the new salary amount translates differently across the state with costs-of-living ranging widely from region-to-region. To adequately compensate a teacher in one area or town translates into a different number in another area of the state.
PSBA is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the commonwealth. Founded in 1895, PSBA in its 125th year of continuous operation, was the first school boards association established in the United States.