News on the State Education Budget

News broke this weekend about an agreement over the state budget, which has been the source of a legislative stalemate for months. School funding has been a big part of the debate about the overall budget, and it’s clear that students will feel the effects of whatever Harrisburg rolls out for this year’s budget.

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook Blog explains the current situation:

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Dan Hardy writes Saturday that with the proposed Harrisburg budget agreement, the Philadelphia school district will fall at least $144 million short in state aid this year compared to what was in the budget plan of Gov. Rendell. The governor is still threatening to veto the proposed agreement. According to today’s story, the massive $144 million gap would result from a decision to scale back the increase in the state basic education subsidy ($300 million statewide instead of $418 million) and more significantly, a redirection of federal stimulus (“fiscal stabilization”) dollars that Rendell had planned to send directly to school districts. The $144 million blow to Philadelphia could grow even larger if the state cuts other funding streams such as Accountability Block Grants, HeadStart, or Pre-K Counts.

And what will this likely mean for schools here in Philly? It’s not totally clear yet…

The District budget for 2009-10 incorporated the projected revenue increases in the Rendell budget plan, which were expected to boost School District revenues by an unprecedented $307 million, or 11 percent. These anticipated funds were to be entirely devoted to a variety of new and recurring expense items in the current school year, and some have already been spent on items like summer school, class size reduction, and new counselors. Privately, District officials have been discussing for weeks the possibility of a budget shortfall in the range of $150 million, according to District sources. That would be the approximate result if Republicans and the Rendell administration resolved their deadlock on education aid by meeting each other halfway. Publicly, Superintendent Ackerman has stated only that the District has been holding off on some spending until the deadlock is resolved.

Read the full post (and see comments) over at the Notebook Blog.

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