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Education Groups Say Governor’s Budget Still Leaves Districts with Tough Choices

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Governor Tom Corbett isn't proposing any slashes in K-12 education funding in the $27.14 billion budget he laid out for lawmakers Tuesday. But he's changing things a bit, increasing the use of block grants to school districts. Corbett said there is actually a slight increase in state funding to basic education. But education groups aren't so sure.

"When you get behind the curtain and add up the amount of the line items of the previous budget that the governor is now rolling into one, it comes out as $94 million less in state funding that would go to help educate students in public school classrooms," said Wythe Keever, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Keever said it's unclear how the new block grant structure would affect school districts, a sentiment echoed by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. The group said the governor's proposals hinges on legislative actions that must be taken outside of the budget process.

"The budget is based upon eliminating many state mandates, and even if the governor gets what he asks for, many of those mandated programs and services will continue, so the built-in costs that school districts must deal with are not going to decrease significantly under this budget," said PASA Executive Director, Jim Buckheit.

Both groups said the governor's budget proposal moves K-12 education backwards rather than forward, and added that more teacher layoffs, program, and service cuts could come if the budget is passes as is.