As Mark Price blogged Tuesday, school districts across the commonwealth are feeling the pressure of state budget cuts and declining local revenues. Mark's post was based on a new survey of 281 of the state's 500 school districts conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).
The survey offers a glimpse into the tough decisions that many districts are being forced to make as funding disappears. It's not pretty.
Class sizes will increase in about 60% of the districts surveyed. Art, music, physical education, advanced placement courses and other electives will be scaled back. Nearly half of the districts plan to cut back or elimianate field trips and extracurriculars, including sports. A little more than a third of the districts are cutting tutoring and just as many are eliminating summer school. Sadly, one in five districts surveyed said they would reduce or eliminate proven early childhood education programs, like full-day kindergarten.
More districts are draining their fund balances to stay afloat, and three-quarters say they will lay off personnel or leave vacancies unfilled in 2012-13.
With the state budget season headed into its final weeks, lawmakers should take steps to close tax loopholes and end special tax breaks in order to restore more of the proposed cuts to schools and other services. This new survey tells us just what's at stake for our next generation.