Our opinion: State can’t be too generous
Pennsylvania has approved guidelines for nearly $100 million in Public School Facility Improvement grants for districts and area career and technical schools that are eligible. While that sounds like a good idea, the state needs to go through these requests with a stringent eye.
Applications are being accepted by the Department of Community and Economic Development for the program from March 1 through May 31. Eligible improvement projects include but are not limited to: roof repairs and roof replacement; installation of HVAC equipment; installation of boilers; safety projects including lead and asbestos abatement; accessibility projects; and window repairs/replacement.
“Governor (Josh) Shapiro knows Pennsylvania students cannot receive an adequate education if their classrooms aren’t safe and healthy to learn in and for teachers to work in. It’s the Shapiro Administration’s top priority to ensure students have a safe, healthy, accessible learning environment in school, and this program will provide funding to help make that happen,” said DCED Secretary Rick Siger. “I urge the Commonwealth’s public schools and area career and technical schools with eligible improvement projects to apply for this funding when the program opens March 1.”
Some schools are likely in desperate need of upgrades, but others may not be deserving. For instance, if a smaller school can be merged with another, there is no reason to invest in a building that is serving fewer students.
Local boards don’t often like making those tough and unpopular decisions, which is why it is important for Pennsylvania to not be as giving. This program, while worthwhile for some, could be too generous.