Calling the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) rejection of the Erie School District’s proposed financial recovery plan “a setback,” Senator Dan Laughlin reaffirmed his commitment to work with district officials to address the current budget crisis.
After working for two months on a financial crisis that has been years in the making, Senator Laughlin urged patience and hoped that citizens and district officials take the PDE’s rejection as a challenge that can be overcome with persistence and pragmatism.
“There is no issue higher on my agenda than bringing the Erie School District back to a stable financial foundation. It is the main reason that I ran for this office in the first place,” Senator Laughlin said. “Even though the recovery plan was never our only option to achieve financial solvency for the Erie School District, the response from PDE is nevertheless disappointing. The process is far from over and one takeaway is the universal agreement that no one – the Governor, PDE, the Legislature, or I — want to see the Erie School District fail.”
The Erie School District would see modest increases in state funding under the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget that is currently under early review by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
PDE figures show the Erie School District is in line for a $1.57 million increase in Basic Education Funding (to $64.4 million) and a $287,568 increase in Special Education Funding (to nearly $10.5 million). The District would also receive a $2.6 million Ready to Learn Block Grant in FY 2017-18.
“We must trust the process and understand that there are going to be setbacks before it is all over. We must also accept the fact that there are tough decisions to be made and I believe the Erie School Board is appropriately moving in that direction,” Senator Laughlin said.
“The proposed increases in basic education and special education funding in the 2017-18 budget are certainly welcome, but I know the state can and should do more to help Erie stabilize and move forward in the future to provide the quality education that our children deserve,” Senator Laughlin continued. “I am committed to working with Senate leaders to find additional funding for the Erie School District as part of budget negotiations.”
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