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Hearing on Impact of School Budget Cuts

Pennsylvania's House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today (Friday) in Greentree to consider the impact education budget cuts are having on communities in Western Pennsylvania.

Representative Matt Smith, a co-chair with Chelsa Wagner and Dan Deasy, said education is an area that shouldn't have been cut and Governor Tom Corbett could have avoided doing so by using the $800 million surplus from the previous year and by enacting a reasonable Marcellus Shale severance tax.

Nancy Aloi Rose, Acting Superintendent in Bethel Park, wanted legislators to understand not only the impact of budget cuts but also that proposed vouchers would "decimate public school systems". She added, "When a student receives a voucher to go to a private or parochial school that doesn't have to abide by the same rules, the same performance standards, the same funding standards—that isn't a free education. It comes on the backs of the children who remain behind in the public schools."

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Vice President William Hileman says there's a question as to whether state funding is equitable because affluent districts in the region had lower per student funding cuts than the Pittsburgh Public Schools, e.g., a few hundred dollars per student vs. a thousand.