The state’s Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget includes $15 million in additional state funding for the Erie School District, a boost requested by Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie), according to Senate Republican Leadership.
The school district will receive $14 million in Educational Access Program Funding. Erie’s Basic Education Funding is estimated to increase from $63,209,894 to $64,266,400, an increase of $1,056,506, or 1.7 percent and its Special Education Funding is estimated to increase from $10,215,969 to $10,512,697, an increase of $296,718, or 2.9 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said the Senate recognized the need to provide financial help for the Erie School District and lauded Senator Laughlin for his hard work on behalf of his constituents.
“Dan has been steadfast in his advocacy for and dedication to finding money to help Erie schools. He came to us with his request, made a compelling case and reviewed the budget line by line to find efficiencies,” Senator Corman said. “In his short time in the Senate, Dan has proven himself to be a dedicated public servant with an eye for making government and our schools work smarter.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), a leader in the efforts to promote equitable school funding, agreed that the Erie School District and Senator Laughlin made a compelling case for increased state support.
“It is vital that the state provides the necessary resources to school districts, especially those in challenged areas like Erie, to ensure all Pennsylvania students have access to a quality education,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne said. “Since taking office, Senator Laughlin has worked tirelessly on behalf of the students and citizens of Erie fighting to provide this increased financial support to the Erie School District for the betterment of the community and for the future of its young people. I know all too well the challenges of having a struggling school district and I applaud Senator Laughlin for his dedication to and support of the education of Erie School District students.”
Senator Laughlin thanked his colleagues and the Governor for recognizing Erie’s financial crisis and stepping up to provide needed funding to ensure the district’s students receive the quality education they deserve.
“Today is an historic day for the City of Erie and, in a larger context, the entire region,” Senator Laughlin said. “Today our state government functioned as it should, in a bipartisan, bicameral effort with the Governor to respond in a magnificent way to our local needs. Senators Corman and Browne took our cause to heart and truly were our champions in the budget negotiations. I sat down the other night and did the math, it would have taken about a 35 percent increase in property taxes in order for the school district to raise the money it needs. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen and now, thankfully, we don’t have to consider the alternatives.”
Senator Laughlin also thanked Senator Scott Wagner, who “lit a fire under this issue,” and Senate Education Committee Chairman Senator John Eichelberger, who brought his committee to Erie in May for a public hearing on the school district’s financial crisis.
He also credited outgoing Superintendent Jay Badams, incoming Superintendent Brian Polito, Erie School Board President Frank Petrungar Jr., school board members, school district staff and administrators as well as students and their families.
“They did a great job. Obviously, there was – and still is – a real sense of urgency. But this financial crisis galvanized the community and you could just see there was never a willingness to just give up. I am truly proud to have worked with all these people, here and in Harrisburg, to see the state make this commitment to Erie’s children and our future,” Senator Laughlin said.
Erie School District welcomed the news of the additional state funding.
“Our students deserve the highest level of educational resources and opportunities and we appreciate the commitment of our state legislators to this important work,” said Petrunger. “We are also extremely grateful to Senator Laughlin for his efforts on our behalf. These additional funds will help close our budget deficit for the current year and assist with our massive school reorganization plan that will be fully implemented this fall.”
“As we begin a new chapter in the history of Erie’s Public Schools, this funding increase will provide the immediate support we need to continue our comprehensive school reorganization plan,” said Polito. “Our entire district is focused on this plan as we work to chart a course toward financial health and stability. We know that we still have a long road ahead of us, but the addition of state aid this year will significantly improve our ability to support our students during the 2017-18 school year. We are grateful for the work of our state legislators and our local community who continue to advocate on our behalf.”
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Moyer – Senator Browne (717) 787-1349 or email@example.com
Matt Azeles – Senator Laughlin (717) 787-8927 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Daria Devlin – Erie School District (814) 460-5387 or email@example.com