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Survey of Pennsylvania District Leaders Finds Plans for More Cuts

A survey of 281 of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts found that many of the respondents plan to increase class sizes, reduce elective class offerings and delay purchase of new textbooks in the 2012-13 school year.

The survey, conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, points the finger at flat local tax revenues, increased costs, and Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, who has proposed a $100 million reduction in block grant funding for early education and all-day kindergarten. The state's districts are also coping with the loss of extra funds that came via the federal stimulus package.

From the report, which was released late last month:

  • School districts anticipate they will cut instructional programs as follows:
  • Sixty-one percent will increase class size.
  • Fifty-eight percent will reduce elective course offerings that are not required for graduation, such as those in foreign languages, arts, music, technology, and even courses in math, science, English and the social studies.
  • Forty-nine percent will delay purchases of new textbooks.
  • Thirty-seven percent will reduce tutoring and extended learning opportunities that provide extra help for struggling students.
  • Thirty-four percent will eliminate summer school programs that provide students the opportunity to make up academic credit that will allow them to graduate on time.
  • Forty-six percent will reduce or eliminate student field trips.

Many of the districts that responded to the survey said they would have to use reserves to balance their budgets. The organizations say that one potential money saver could come in the reduction or elimination of some state mandates. But, the report added, "while there has been lots of talk about mandate relief and several legislative efforts to address mandates, there have been no significant results to date. Charter school funding reforms, changes to prevailing wage requirements and permitting districts to furlough staff for economic reasons could provide significant savings to school districts and taxpayers."

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