Perkiomen Valley School District's Dr. Rogers responds to budget address

Governor Tom Corbett proposes deep cuts to education spending, changes to policy.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's long-awaited budget address this morning contained some tough proposals for school districts in the Commonwealth. As part of what he called the budget’s four core principles—“fiscal discipline, limited government, free enterprise and reform”—Corbett’s budget would cut about $550 million from basic education spending.

Perkiomen Valley School District’s own 2011-12 proposed budget——is still a work in progress. Corbett’s decision on education funding has been an omnipresent question mark during budget presentations thus far. Superintendent Dr. Clifford Rogers released this statement regarding the governor’s budget address:

“While we are all very aware of the realities of our current economy, I am still disappointed that the Governor chose to ignore the findings of the costing-out study conducted by the state legislature which determined that the state was underfunding education, as today he proposed rolling the basic education subsidies back to 2008-2009 levels.

“Even with the mandate concessions recommended in today’s speech, this places an unfair burden back on local taxpayers to meet the state and federal requirements and makes the local work of providing an outstanding education for all students more difficult. 

“In practice, PVSD will respond within the resources available to provide the best balance between opportunities for students and prudent fiscal responsibility. In fact, responding to a prediction of these rollbacks, in our preliminary proposed budget, we have recognized cutbacks in state subsidies that closely match what was announced today.  As actual figures are provided to PV from the state, we will continue to refine our budget for the 2011-2012 school year.”

Corbett further said he believed taxpayers should vote on any property tax increases that were more than the rate of inflation.

“When you’re spending someone else’s money, it’s easier to say yes than no,” he said. “If school boards can’t say no, maybe the taxpayers will.”

In his speech, the governor also advocated for school choice and a one-year salary freeze for public school employees.

“Our calculations show (freezes) could save school districts $400 million,” Corbett said.

A press release also noted, “education reform means cutting bureaucratic strings to empower local school districts to impose economic furloughs, increase bid size limits, alter advertising requirements and eliminate support for master’s degree salary ‘bumps.’”

joe March 08, 2011 at 11:49 PM
I can think of a lot more areas where the budget could be cut, before cutting education funding. Yes, cost cutting needs to be done at the local level, and school districts need to be accountable to the residents, but cutting state funding to education to this extent is just wrong.
concerned taxpayer March 14, 2011 at 04:07 PM
I don't understand why the public always seem to give public school education limitless funds. Being a mother and now a grandmother, I do know that we have always been emotion driven when it came to our children. But, do we really know where the money is going and what they are doing with it. I have been through all genres of schooling with my children. I have had issues with bussing through to education. My only credentials in accounting is having run a household of 4 children and 2 adults. But I know that the school system wastes more money than any organization is entitled to. During times like these, when everyone has to tighten their belts, the public schools must do the same. Teachers have to be paid well, but they have to realize that for these times, when their neighbors in the corporate world are out of work, or living under the threat of losing their jobs, when their neighbors in the corporate world are contributing at least a quarter of their medical benefits, have no pensions, (and I could go on) they are being doing extremely well. There are so many areas, not teachers' salaries) that can be drastically cut, if not done away with. If the public knew where all of our tax money was going, they might think twice about giving the department of education a free ride.
Benjy March 17, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Sam Dillon, writing in Wednesday's New York Times, notes that the average salary of veteran elementary teachers in the US was, according to Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development data, "$44,172 in 2008, higher than the average of $39,426 across all O.E.C.D countries (the figures were converted to compare the purchasing power of each currency)." "But that salary level was 40 percent below the average salary of other American college graduates. In Finland, by comparison, the veteran teacher’s salary was 13 percent less than that of the average college graduate’s. "The point [is] . . . American schools spend disproportionately on other areas [than teacher salaries], like bus transportation and sports facilities. The upshot here is that teacher's salaries are not the place to cut, unless we want to continue to drive the best and brightest prospects into other fields where their wages will be, on average, even greater than the 40% difference recorded in 2008. And for the record, the PSEA, the state teachers' association, has urged its local associations currently bargaining to agree to a 1 year wage freeze. The Perkiomen Valley teachers settled a contract that did just that. So Janis is right, there are other places to cut/sacrifice. but let's not propagate the myth that the public doesn't know where their tax money goes. That information is available from the district, and PV budget presentations are among the most lucid around.


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