News

Lancaster schools head says it needs state money by October 31st

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 31, 2015 4:23 AM
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FILE PHOTO

(Lancaster) -- Superintendents at midstate schools are watching the state budget crisis, as it nears the second month, and a newcomer to the region says she's prepared for whatever might happen.

Damaris Rau is taking over as superintendent at the School District of Lancaster, after Governor Tom Wolf tapped Pedro Rivera to be state Education Secretary.

Rau was most recently executive director of New Haven, Connecticut's school district.

She says she's accustomed to state budget delays, and notes Lancaster's chief financial officer has already filled her in on what might be ahead.

"And if we get additional money we know exactly what needs to happen with that money to continue again, to support student growth. But Matt did not wait for that state budget to help the board develop a really accurate and effective budget that supports the needs of students," she says.

Rau says the district needs every dollar it can get. Lancaster says it can make it to October 31st without any state money.

Much of the budget debate has centered on school funding.

Republicans argue an overhaul of school employees' pension system is needed, while Democrats prefer to focus on increasing funding to classrooms through higher taxes.

The state Department of Education says 84 percent of Lancaster school students lived in low-income households in 2012.

Rau says her goal as superintendent will be to serve all.

"There are certainly intervention plans and programs that we want to pickup to support students both at the lower-level and students who are functioning at the highest of levels, because our goal is that every child grows," she adds.

Meanwhile, Rau is the first Latina superintendent in the district's history, and was the first member of her family to attend college.

She says she hopes to use her background to inspire students in Lancaster.

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