State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham is determined to see the state pass its budget.
But she needs help from the community.
On Thursday afternoon, Goreham, members of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, and other local educators held a news conference at Schlow Centre Region Library to urge lawmakers to take action on a budget that could increase basic education funding by about $410 million.
To get the state’s attention, Goreham and EVP Advocacy Coordinator Susan Spicka said the public must contact their local political leaders.
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“We must strongly urge state lawmakers to go back to Harrisburg now to work together with their colleagues and our governor to pass and restore (millions) in state funding to schools this year,” Spicka said. “Communities are doing everything they can to ensure that children receive the educational opportunity they need. Now it is time for lawmakers to step up their game and make sure that the state does its part.”
Most Centre County school districts can make it a few months without benefits from the state until they would have to tap into reserve funds, administrators have said.
But Travis Lee, principal at Williamsburg Community School District in Blair County, said his district has been “underfunded” causing the district to fail in its mission to provide a “thorough and efficient public school system.”
“In my district, this has meant that, despite everyone’s best intentions, we have not been able to sustain programs,” he said. “We have had a reduction in staff that has resulted in fewer electives and academic course offerings at the secondary level.”
To help make up for a lack of budget, Lee said, the best way to provide school funding other than tax dollars is through outreach to community members to help fund booster clubs, school foundations and capital campaigns.
“It is increasingly difficult to meet the needs of our students without the adequate and equitable resources needed to do so,” Lee said.
The state deadline to pass its budget was June 30.