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Urban schools urge lawmakers to increase funding

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jun 13, 2013 4:00 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Budget season is in full swing at the state Capitol, and urban school districts are making the case for additional education dollars in the new fiscal year.

Leaders of the Harrisburg, York and Reading school districts say budget cuts in the last few years are still affecting students. They joined other members of the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools at a news conference on Wednesday.

"The district has been forced to cut over 300-staff positions, increase class sizes, shutter schools and eliminate many valuable programs," explained Harrisburg City Schools Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney. "Chief among these programs was the loss of the preschool program for three and four-year-old children."

The superintendents say the funding cuts are especially painful for urban districts because they rely more heavily on state dollars.

In York, the school board recently approved a recovery plan that Assistant Superintendent Tamara Willis says will result in additional program and personnel cuts.

"We have to make sure that none of our students are left behind, and in our urban districts -- unfortunately, because of the funding -- many of our students are on the verge of being left behind," Willis said.

Governor Corbett's spending plan calls for a $90-million increase in basic education funding next year, and the House proposal would add $10-million more.

An Education Department spokesman points out 41-cents of every state taxpayer dollar is spent on the public education system.

Published in Harrisburg, News, York

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