ShareThis Page

Basic education subsidies to increase locally under Corbett's proposed budget

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 4:12 a.m.

Area school districts would get an increased basic education subsidy under Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget.

However, it would come in a “student-focused supplement” that would be added to an amount otherwise unchanged from the current school year.

McKeesport Area would get an increase of $304,246, raising its 2013-14 subsidy from $22,978,794 to $23,283,040.

The area's next largest subsidy would go to Norwin, which now gets $15,056,768 but would go to $15,330,035 under the governor's proposal.

Statewide it is a hike of $90 million on top of basic subsidies that total $5.5 billion.

“The $90 million ... will be driven out based on a school district's average daily membership and its aid ratio,” Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said.

Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, sees the governor changing his stance of the past two years.

“I believe this renewed commitment is a healthy sign that he now recognizes that his previous two budgets shortchanged schools by $900 million and spurred steep property tax hikes across the state,” Brewster said.

Duquesne City School District would see an increase from $8,501,863 to $8,563,881.

Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, said Corbett is “ignoring the state's broken school funding formula that puts poorer school districts like Duquesne at a disadvantage.”

But Duquesne will get a continued $2.5 million supplement that also was included in the state's 2012-13 budget.

“There is a line item in the budget, Basic Education Enhancement, that is funded at $2.5 million for 2013-14,” Eller said. “The plan is for that to be provided to Duquesne.”

“(Acting superintendent) Paul Rach and I are studying the numbers,” said Paul B. Long, the state-appointed chief recovery officer who is working on a long-range plan for Duquesne, one of two districts statewide regarded as being in “severe financial recovery.”

“We'll be expressing the outlook as soon as we are able,” Long said. He has until Monday to announce his plan.

Also proposed are hikes for:

• Clairton City to $6,827,474 from $6,752,810.

• East Allegheny to $6,101,591 from $5,965,181.

• Elizabeth Forward to $8,944,310 from $8,783,647.

• South Allegheny to $9,319,950 from $9,198,036.

• Steel Valley to $8,563,999 from $8,437,948.

• West Jefferson Hills to $5,294,060 from $5,155,044.

• West Mifflin Area to $6,516,659 from $6,340,318.

There also is an adjustment in special education funding. Duquesne, for instance, would see a decrease from $617,037 to $613,952.

Other proposed special ed grants include $995,846 for Clairton City, $1,093,423 for East Allegheny, $1,643,587 for Elizabeth Forward, $2,906,401 for McKeesport Area, $2,498,539 for Norwin, $1,051,096 for South Allegheny, $1,263,918 for Steel Valley, $1,678,093 for West Jefferson Hills and $1,832,038 for West Mifflin Area.

Statewide special ed money is down from just under $1.027 billion to 942.8 million.

Accountability grants are proposed for such programs as full-day kindergarten in some districts. All area districts would get in 2013-14 what they're receiving for this school year:

Clairton City, $101,362; Duquesne City, $110,911; East Allegheny, $161,135; Elizabeth Forward, $199,623; McKeesport Area, $404,611; Norwin, $222,586; South Allegheny, $132,847; Steel Valley, $163,215; West Jefferson Hills, $105,529; and West Mifflin Area, $194,523.

Brewster and other area Democratic lawmakers oppose the governor's tie of education funding to privatization of the lottery and liquor stores.

Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, said the governor should “focus on making education investment ... without making it contingent on anything else.”

Smith suggested there were loopholes to be closed, urged enactment of a Marcellus shale severance tax, and said the state is not enforcing online sales tax collections.

Other issues raised by local lawmakers include transportation.

“It's hard to believe that after a year and a half of delay, the transportation plan is only half of what the administration's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended,” Sen. Timothy Solobay, D-Canonsburg, said.

“We need at least $3.5 billion to fix our crumbling roads, bridges and mass transit,” Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, said.

Smith applauded Corbett for committing $200,000 toward base closure and realignment support for communities in danger of losing the 911th Airlift Wing, in the western end of his 37th District.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.