Before you blame the school board for this latest tax increase, think about whether it would have been necessary had the legislature done its part.
According to the state constitution, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the commonwealth.” In political terms, the level discussed is 50 percent of the agreed upon costs to educate students.
Our legislature is preparing once again to fall woefully far below that standard. The Public Interest Law Center reports another $3.2 billion is the minimum appropriation necessary to bring the legislature up to its half.
School districts face huge numbers of mandates that leave them very little fat to trim. Districts weren’t reimbursed for borrowing costs to cover last year’s unconscionable delay in passing the state budget. The Hazleton Area School District just voted to reduce its school week to four days through the winter months, which leaves them still $2.6 million short. Many other districts are under extreme stress. Local taxpayers have to make up the difference between what the legislature appropriates and the actual costs school districts incur.
Please contact your legislators and urge them to fund education appropriately. Shifting their responsibilities to local districts is deeply unfair and unequal, given the vast disparities in districts’ abilities to raise tax dollars. Tell your legislators that education funding is a voting issue for you. If they will not support proper funding, perhaps their opponents will.
Dianne Gregg, Centre Hall