Mon Valley school officials glad governor didn't cut funding
State funding for education has been so troublesome in recent years that a proposal that doesn't cut funding was cause for celebration among local school administrators.
“I'm happy (Gov. Tom Corbett's) maintaining, and we're not going to look at another year of cuts,” said Dr. Karen Polkabla, Ringgold School District superintendent.
Modest increases in funding for the 2013-14 school year proposed by Corbett this week have left area school officials wanting more.
Polkabla noted that the Education Assistance Program, last included in the 2011-12 state budget, is missing in the proposed budget. She said Ringgold used money from that program for an after-school tutoring program.
Basic education subsidy levels for this year and next for local districts is as follows:
• Belle Vernon Area – 2012-13, $9,161,937; 2013-14, $9,326,126.
•Bentworth – $6,005,323; $6,088,614.
• California Area – $5,607,648; $5,671,649.
• Charleroi Area – $7,279,526; $7,402,714.
• Elizabeth Forward – $8,783,647; $8,944,310.
• Frazier – $6,581,004; $6,662,366.
•Monessen – $5,852,682; $5,923,556.
•Ringgold – $12,098,545; $12,287,150.
• Yough – $9,285,446; $9,427,300.
While basic education funding rose by about 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent per district, funding for special education and transportation declined for most districts.
“We'd receive about the same as last year, which is downright awful,” Monessen School District Superintendent Linda Marcolini said.
“He cut us about $3,000 in special education funding. We need a lot more money than that.”
Marcolini said the governor's proposed budget “leaves us scraping, just like we've been doing.”
“We're going to do the best job we can do, like we always do,” Marcolini said.
Charleroi Area Superintendent Dr. Brad Ferko said he was excited by the increase – which is comparable to the revenue generated by 2 mills in real estate tax.
Ferko said he was pleased to see the Accountability Block Grant retained, even though funding for it did not increase.
“I'm disappointed that special education was level funded,” Ferko said. “I wish it would have been an increase, based on some of the new programs we've added.”
He also questioned new evaluation programs for staff members, such as the teacher effectiveness, principal leadership effectiveness, and educator specialists effectiveness testing.
“I'm all for accountability for our staff,” Ferko said. “But there's way too many questions out there regarding these programs. I think it's a mixed bag budget for me.
“I'm glad there are some improvements in funding and some increases, but I still think the state has not lived up to its obligation for special education.”
Elizabeth Forward Superintendent Dr. Bart Rocco noted that while the district would realize a modest increase in overall funding, much of it is tied to pension costs.
“I have a lot of questions about proposed programs,” Rocco said. “ I have concerns that some of these things – these block grants – are tied to the sale of the liquor stores. It's a four-year block grant, but that's all dependant on whether or not the sale of the liquor stores occurs.”
Belle Vernon Area Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson summed up the budget proposal by stating, “No problems were solved.”
“We're still pretty much in the same situation,” Wilkinson said. “We just have to count every paper clip and every pencil we have – and support the kids – for the next year.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Belle Vernon Reality Tour offers close look at ‘nightmare’ of drug abuse
- ‘Color Run’ planned for Mon Valley
- Cops nab 4 in Monessen drug hangout
- Namath performed in contest at, not against, Monessen
- Assistant band director drums up support to save Monessen building
- Belle Vernon Area, teachers reach deal early Tuesday, avoid strike
- Belle Vernon Area thaw began at meeting
- Brownsville native draws from life experience in series of books
- CNG refueling site opens in Bentleyville
- Mother, son share musical talent with Elizabeth Forward band students
- North Belle Vernon council settles dispute with borough couple