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WCSD opposes Gov. Wolf’s budget plan

Warren County School District is pleading its case to the general assembly.

“Northwestern Pennsylvania school districts would be devastated” if Gov. Tom Wolf’s Basic Education Funding proposal were to be approved without a tax increase proposed to make sure districts don’t lose funding, according to school board Finance Committee Chair Arthur Stewart. “The numbers were radical. It’s critical that we get this down to Harrisburg right now.”

Committee member Joe Colosimo said the general summary of the governor’s proposal is “not so bad,” but “it’s a little bomb that they hid in there. Among all the lighthearted stuff, there’s this disaster.”

Superintendent Amy Stewart said a “couple” of other districts have offered to join in reaching out to senators and representatives regarding the proposal.

“Even if it were us going by ourselves, it would be compelling,” Arthur Stewart said.

Board member Marcy Morgan approved of the letter. “It’s short and sweet and to the point,” she said. “You’ve made a compelling argument. You’ve offered evidence of your point. They can’t not understand what we’re going to go through.”

According to the letter: “Gov. Wolf’s proposal immediately re-allocates BEF (Basic Education Funding) to the detriment of nearly every district in northwestern Pennsylvania; Gov. Wolf’s proposal relies upon new/increased state taxes. Only through his proposed new/increased taxes does Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal keep our districts’ state funding the same. If some or all of those new/increased taxes are rejected by the legislature, the remaining portion of Gov. Wolf’s proposal would strip away an enormous portion of the BEF funding our districts receive.”

The committee passed a motion – an unusual step for the committees – in favor of sending the proposed district letter and accompanying spreadsheet detailing how much certain districts would stand to lose as well as a dollars-per-student comparison of numerous districts to the members of the education, agriculture, and appropriations committees; reaching out personally to committee members known to the board; and reaching out to other legislators who may not be on those committees, but represent rural Pennsylvania.

Arthur Stewart said he checked his data with the director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS). “We asked… ‘Is our spreadsheet on solid ground?’ He said, ‘No sir, it’s on concrete.’ I have confidence that we’re not telling a skewed story.”

“They’re so busy down there covering literally a thousand different subjects if we don’t bring it to them it’ll be lost,” he said.

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