Wolf’s education plans in line with WCSD’s goals

Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan involves a number of pieces that would address concerns in Warren County School District.

At the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools conference Thursday in Boalsburg, Wolf spoke about the need for STEM and career education, the need for broadband access for rural communities, better communication between the business community and schools, and the negative impact of charter schools on public schools.

Wolf also announced that he would propose a $200 million increase to the statewide basic education subsidy and a $50 million increase in special education.

“My proposals will help schools to keep great teachers, increase access to broadband in rural communities, and create the skilled and highly qualified workforce that will attract industry and jobs,” he said.

Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart, who attended the conference, was encouraged by the governor’s presentation, but said there is a long way to go.

“He addressed the need for STEM education and career education,” Stewart said. “Both are in alignment with our goals.”

The district has a STEM program working at Warren Area Elementary Center with plans to expand to other buildings and other grade levels.

“He stated schools and businesses need to do a better job of connecting on the needs of the workplace,” she said.

Warren County Career Center’s general advisory council just held its spring meeting and discussed ways to improve that communication.

“He acknowledged the negative impact of charter schools on public schools and encouraged (superintendents) to continue to voice our concerns,” she said.

The district of residence of students enrolled in charter schools has to pay the charter school based on a funding formula, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

County leaders have long expressed concerns about the difficulty of bringing high-speed internet to every corner of the county. Wolf addressed that concern.

“He is advocating for greater access to broadband,” Stewart said. “This would have a significant impact on the county.”

“Lack of qualify internet access means our children miss out on learning opportunities and their parents lack easy access to important school information,” Wolf said. “Our students, parents, and our teachers deserve better, and we can provide that through Restore Pennsylvania.”

“Rural school students would benefit from Restore Pennsylvania, a $4.5 billion investment over the next four years to expand high-speed internet access and other high-impact infrastructure projects throughout Pennsylvania,” according to a release from Wolf’s office. “Restore Pennsylvania would be funded by a commonsense severance tax and help bridge the digital divide making Pennsylvania a better place to work, do business, and live.”

“It is a positive to see the district goals in alignment with the direction of the state,” Stewart said. “The governor is working on improving funding, but Pennsylvania’s funding of their public schools ranks 46th out of 50.”

“This puts pressures on the local taxpayers to fill the void, thus the reason the district has had to raise taxes in recent years,” she said. “The state needs to do more to help districts provide quality educational programs.”

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