Harrisburg–Fund our Schools! Rally in Shippensburg

Wednesday, June 3 at the King Street Gazebo in Shippensburg. Gather at 6:00, rally at 6:30. Fund Our Schools Flyer

Fund Our Schools FlyerFor the fifth year in a row, the Shippensburg Area School District and school districts  throughout PA are faced with making deep cuts in our schools because of a broken state funding system that is based on politics rather than on what it actually costs to educate children.

Join us to tell lawmakers to take politics out of school funding, invest additional resources in public education, and reject the status quo of higher local taxes and deep cuts in our schools. We need our lawmakers to support a budget that invests in education and supports our children and our communities.

Speakers include, who will each speak for 1 minute, include:

  • Bruce Hockersmith, Shippensburg Mayor
  • Jim Hertzler, Cumberland County Commissioner
  • Elaine “Betsy” Haller, former librarian and current board member of the Shippensburg Public Library
  • Ray Staver, Shippensburg Area High School physical education teacher
  • Tom Horst, Shippensburg Area School District athletic trainer
  • Clarence Cornman, retired SASD custodian
  • Jill Hollar, SASD parent and Cumberland Valley SD guidance counselor
  • Jen Yaukey, SASD parent
  • Alan Tolbert, Shippensburg Area High School junior
  • Francesca Yaukey, SASD graduating senior

Because of years of inadequate state funding, SASD faces more than a $1 million deficit in the 2015-2016 budget. Our school board is raising taxes to the maximum amount allowed by law,  taking more than $400K  from the school district’s savings, and cutting $300K in programs and services from our schools. SASD cuts since 2011 have been deep. Without additional state funding this year, in 2016-2017, SASD will face a $1.5 million deficit and can expect to be bankrupt within 3-4 years. We need our state lawmakers to support our our children, our schools and our communities in this state budget.

Can’t come to the rally? Give your state lawmaker a call:

Senator Richard Alloway (all of SASD except Hopewell Township and Newburg Boro) (717) 264-6100

Senator John Eichelberger (Hopewell Township and Newburg Boro) (717)  787-5490

Representative Mark Keller (SASD in Cumberland County) (717) 477-0905

Representative Rob Kauffman (SASD in Franklin County) 717-264-3943

 

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Do you want to stop the cuts in the Shippensburg Area School District?  Contact your state lawmakers today.

Do you want to stop the cuts in the Shippensburg Area School District? Contact your state lawmakers today.

State lawmakers will determine how much state funding SASD will receive in the budget this year and only they (our lawmakers are Senator Richard Alloway and Representatives Mark Keller and Rob Kauffman) have the power to stop the cuts in SASD. Our school board must balance the budget with the funding it receives from the state.  When there is not enough state funding, the board must raise taxes, take money from savings and cut programs and services.

For the fifth year in a row, SASD is faced with making deep cuts in our schools because of a broken state funding system that is based on politics rather than on what it actually costs to educate children. We need our lawmakers to fix this broken system this year—our children cannot afford to lose more from their schools. (click SASD cuts since 2011 to see the astonishing amount SASD has already cut from our schools as a result of our state’s broken and inadequate state funding system).

At the school board meeting on Wednesday, May 13th at 7:00 in the SAMS cafeteria,  our school administration will share options for how to cut $300K from the district budget for 2015-2016 in order to balance the budget.

No decisions about have been made about specific cuts. However, after making deep cuts for 4 years in a row, any additional cuts will be very painful. No administrator or school board member wants to make anymore cuts. However, when state funding is inadequate, they have no choice.

This year the 4th and 5th grade strings program is on the list of items that could be eliminated in addition to other very valuable programs and services and employees. Mrs. Bender is working side by side with music department, collaboratively as a team, to rearrange schedules, looking at which teachers are available where to see if the program can be saved. However, without additional state funding, our school board must make $300K in cuts to balance the budget and the 4th and 5th grade strings program is on the list.

Now is the time to support our children and our schools. If we want to stop the cuts in SASD, we need to come together as a community and tell our state lawmakers that we expect them to support of fair, adequate state funding for our schools THIS YEAR.

You can help stop these cuts by simply by taking the following actions:

  1. Sign and share this petition urging our school board to keep our music program whole and urging our state lawmakers to vote for a budget that will invest additional resources in public education and to send these resources to school districts using a funding formula that takes politics out of the equation.
  1. Find your legislators’ phone numbers HERE and call them right now and ask them to:
    • invest additional resources in public education in this year’s budget and
    • enact a formula that will allocate state taxpayer dollars to school districts based on what it costs to educate children, not based on politics and deals that are cut behind closed doors in Harrisburg.
  1. Come to the school board meeting on Wednesday, May 13 at 7:00 in the SAMS cafeteria to show your support for our children and for SASD. If you have children in the strings program, have them bring their instruments.

If our state lawmakers support a state budget that invests additional money in public education, SASD will not need to make any cuts this year and instead will be able to begin to RESTORE what has been cut in recent years. Click HERE to see Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for SASD. 

What happens with SASD will depend on the state budget that is passed in Harrisburg. We need Senator Richard Alloway, Representative Mark Keller and Representative Rob Kauffman to go to Harrisburg to fight for our children and vote for a budget that will support our schools. Our school board must balance the budget with the funding it receives. Without additional state funding this year, they will need to cut $300K in programs, services, and people from our children’s schools.

Why We Support the Lawsuit Against the State

Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley wholeheartedly supports the lawsuit filed by Education Law Center-PA and Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia on behalf of parents, school districts and statewide organizations. This lawsuit makes the complaint that current state school funding is unconstitutional and violates PA law.

Our state government has created academic standards that are part of the PSSA and Keystone Exam systems and set the expectation that ALL students will meet these standards. At the same time, our state government has failed to ensure that many students in Pennsylvania have access to the basic educational opportunities that they need in order to meet these standards.

Hundreds of thousands of students in Pennsylvania go to schools where their libraries have been closed, they are using out-of-date textbooks and materials, they are sitting in crowded classrooms and lack guidance counselors, school nurses and programs that offer extra help to struggling students.

As a result of these conditions, many of these students cannot achieve basic proficiency on PSSA exams and they will be unprepared to pass the Keystone exams, which will soon be graduation requirement.

Because of our state’s broken system,per pupil spending in PA school districts ranges from $9,800 to $28,400. Wealthy communities with high property values are able to provide students with a high-quality education while poor communities struggle to give students the opportunities they need to meet state standards.

Pennsylvania lawmakers should not spend millions of taxpayer dollars defending a school funding system that clearly broken.

Instead, our lawmakers must do the hard work of governing and do what is right for the Pennsylvania’s public school children. Our state lawmakers must make fair and adequate funding for Pennsylvania’s public schools their top priority this year. They must work with Tom Wolf and do whatever it takes to make sure that when our children return to school next year, they have access to the resources they will need to meet state standards and graduate from high school college or career ready.

To learn more about the lawsuit, please visit http://edfundinglawsuit.wordpress.com/

A new school year and new opportunities to support public schools

Seeing my daughters head off to school this morning, excited to meet their new teachers and to start a new year, I was grateful for their public schools.

Unfortunately, the budget that Governor Corbett and our area legislators passed in June was not good for our public schools. The strong efforts of parents and public education advocates kept at bay additional cuts in state funding. However, state funding for public schools in PA is still  $580 million below 2010-11 classroom funding levels. For the 4th year in a row, many children in our region will be heading back to schools to sit in crowded classrooms, where they will receive fewer learning opportunities than their brothers and sisters who came before them.

As political races heat up, you may see ads claiming, “PA sends more on basic education than any other time in our state’s history.” Please know that this statement is based on fuzzy Harrisburg math. Political candidates who make this claim are including the state’s mandated payments into the pension system as funding for public schools. While pension payments are definitely part of the education budget, it is misleading at best and desperate at worst for elected officials to suggest to voters that more money than ever before is being spent in our children’s classrooms.  This simply is not true and we know it.

As we look forward to the upcoming school year, parents and public education advocates have unprecedented opportunities to support our public schools.

A Basic Education Funding Commission made up of state legislators will study how PA funds its schools and make recommendations to improve the funding system. This is a big deal and has the potential to bring real change and fairness to PA’s broken system of funding schools. Parents and advocates will have many opportunities to be involved in this conversation and to influence the decisions the commission makes. I will be sending out periodic updates and include tips on how we can advocate together for better funding for ALL of Pennsylvania’s schools.

In addition, please plan to vote on November 4th for candidates who will support our public schools. Our governor, our state representatives, and our state senators decide how much state money is spent on public education and how it will be allocated to school districts.  We need to use our power as voters to elect the candidates who will make fair and adequate state funding for our public schools their top priority.

As PA’s children head back to school to take advantage of learning opportunities to develop their potential, I look forward to working together to take advantage opportunities to support their schools!

PA House passes “No New Taxes for Drillers, Lots of New Taxes for Home Owners and More Cuts for Schools” Budget

Republican members of the PA House passed a budget that will protect the profits of natural gas drillers at the expense of the taxpayers and children they were elected to represent. Rather than tax the drillers, House Republicans are choosing to cut funding from our schools.

The House budget eliminates the $241 million increase in state funding for proposed Ready to Learn Block grants and replaces this with a paltry $70 million increase in Basic Education Funding.  This is a 70% cut in the proposed increase in funding Governor Corbett’s budget and eliminates funds school districts were counting on  to balance their budgets this year.

The impact of this budget will be felt immediately in communities throughout PA. In Shippensburg, the school board this week raised taxes to the maximum allowed by law after learning that the school district would not be able to depend on state funding for 4 kindergarten teachers.

Click here to make a phone call to Corbett and your state senator and representative to tell them to restore the increase in funding Governor Corbett proposed.

This is approximately what our area school districts will lose if the House budget becomes law (*legislators dole out school funding increases as they please, often based on deals they cut behind closed doors, so we can’t be sure how they will choose to distribute the $70 million).

School District Proposed Ready to Learn Grant Funding House GOP proposal, which cuts 70% of the increase Loss of state funding for K-12 education in House GOP proposal compared to Corbett’s proposed budget
Big Spring SD $359,097 $107,729 -$251,367
Camp Hill SD $126,880 $38,064 -$88,816
Carlisle Area SD $597,844 $179,353 -$418,490
Cumberland Valley SD $550,658 $164,197 -$385,460
East Pennsboro Area SD $332,606 $99,781 -$232,824
Mechanicsburg Area SD $385,115 $115,534 $269,580
Shippensburg Area SD $481,245 $114,373 -$336,871
South Middleton SD $206,359 $61,907 -$144,451
Chambersburg Area SD $1,128,542 $338,562 -$789,979
Fannett-Metal SD $70,803 $21,241 -$49,562
Greencastle-Antrim SD $378,211 $113,463 -$264,747
Tuscarora SD $345,643 $103,692 -$241,950
Waynesboro Area SD $611,406 $183,421 -$427,984

Budget negotiations are just beginning. While the budget is still fluid and negotiations are taking place, advocates to speak out loudly and often in support of responsible funding for public schools.

Click here to make a phone call to Corbett and your state senator and representative. They need to hear from people TODAY.

Ask them to:

  • Restore the $241 million in Basic Education Funding line that was in Corbett’s proposed budget.
  • Support the adoption of a shale tax, cigarette tax and any reasonable  measure to raise revenue and close tax loopholes.
  • Support and advocate for state funding for charter school reimbursement to be restored.

If we don’t speak loudly and with one voice this budget season, our public schools will get little more than scraps in this budget and shale drillers will continue to make record profits on the backs of home owners and children in public schools. Please call today.

Interested in joining a sit-in for full funding for PA’s public schools at Corbett’s office? Send me an email at educationmattersinthecv@gmail.com and I will share details.

 

Join us in Harrisburg and Speak Up for Public Schools!

Governor Corbett and our state legislators are facing a grim budget for next year. If they don’t raise revenue, they will need to make more than $1.2 billion in cuts to Governor Corbett’s proposed budget.

Lobbyists will be swarming the Capitol in June making sure legislators know the priorities of special interest groups. We need to be there, too.

Join Education Voters PA and parents and community members from throughout Pennsylvania as we go to Harrisburg to stand up for public schools. We will  send a loud and clear message that after three years of balancing the state budget on the backs of Pennsylvania’s public school children, it is time for our state government to stop standing up for gas drillers and special interests and finally stand up for our children.

Sign up here to join us.

Who: Parents, community members, school board members, public education advocates

  • Come on your own, with a friend, or with a group

 What: Citizen Presence in Harrisburg to Speak Up for Fair and Adequate Funding for Public   Education

  • We will be meeting with our legislators. Call and set up a meeting with your legislators in their Capitol office for the date that you will be coming to Harrisburg.

 When:  Wednesday, June 18, Monday, June 23, and Monday, June 30

  • Pick the date and time that work best for you. Education Voters will have a table with information from 9:30-3:30 all three days. You can plan to make a quick trip to talk to your legislators or plan to spend the day in the Capitol halls making sure lawmakers know Pennsylvanians care about public schools in PA.

 Where: Find Education Voters at a table in the Main Rotunda

  • We will have information and talking points to help you make the most of your time.

 Why: Legislators will be deciding what they will fund and what they will cut in this year’s budget

  • We need to send a message that properly funding public education should be their top priority.

Please email us at educationmattersinthecv@gmail.com with any questions.

Don’t Derail Fair Funding for Special Education Students in PA

This is a big deal. Please take a minute and read this action alert from our friends at Education Voters of PA.  Then take action and contact your state senator and representative TODAY!

A bi-partisan group of PA lawmakers recognized that the way Pennsylvania pays for special education services is broken and unfair. A commission was convened and members spent months traveling throughout the commonwealth to meet with parents of children with special needs and other stakeholders. The result of their hard work is a new, thoroughly-planned and fair system for funding special education in Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, all of the work to develop this common sense legislation could unravel. Because Pennsylvania doesn’t have a fair formula, right now some of the money that should go to pay for special education services is being used for general funding in some charter schools.

This needs to change.

With scarce resources, all special education funding must be delivered fairly and used carefully, for special education services.

Now is the time for Pennsylvanians to come together to support children with special needs and fair funding for all of Pennsylvania’s public schools.  

Please take a few minutes and send an email to your state senator and state representative TODAY!

Click here to send an email to your state senator and representative.

This is what our senators and representatives need to hear:

Please support Senate Bill 1316/House Bill 2138, the special education funding and accountability reform bill.

The current system of funding special education is broken and unfair. It does not provide enough resources for the services children need and it does not ensure that all special education dollars are spent on special education services. 

State special education funding should be distributed to both school systems and charter schools based on the level of services that students need. Allocating taxpayer dollars differently to school districts and charter schools doesn’t make sense. All of our public schools should receive funding distributed by the same allocation formula.

State special education funding should be spent ONLY on providing students with services. Any excess special education funding should be returned to the state and allocated to help other children get the services they need. If some schools receive and keep more special education dollars than they are spending on services for children, these schools are reaping a financial advantage at the expense of children with special needs in Pennsylvania. 

If the legislature chooses to freeze special education funding at current levels for charter schools, no additional money should accrue to charter schools based on the old, flawed system for funding special education. Any new special education funding for charter schools must be based on the new law and fair to ALL of Pennsylvania’s special needs children.

Click here to send an email to your state senator and representative.

Thank you for taking the time to support Pennsylvania’s children with special needs.

Regards,

Susan Gobreski
Executive Director
Education Voters PA