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CFEF Letter to Legislators: A Budget Agreement that Puts Students First

To the Governor and Members of the General Assembly:

We, the undersigned organizations and community leaders from across Pennsylvania, urge you to keep the needs of Pennsylvania’s school students at the forefront by promptly coming to a budget agreement that enacts the funding formula adopted by the state Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and invests significant new dollars in our public schools.

Since the budget impasse began more than 100 days ago, the state has missed three significant payments to our public schools, with another large payment due in just eight days. The state will be behind by more than $3 billion by then, and school districts already have been forced to borrow funds, delay payments to vendors, or suspend tuition payments to charter schools in order to meet payroll and keep the doors open.

As we go further into the school year without a state budget, their cash flow problems will only intensify, forcing even more drastic measures that will undermine the academic progress of our children.

While it is important for all sides to reach agreement right away to avert such actions, our children and our communities deserve a state budget that invests fairly and fully in public education.

We recognize that many important issues must be resolved to reach agreement on a budget, but failure to sufficiently fund our public schools and to correct the glaring disparities in the way public education is funded will shortchange our children and continue to hold back our state’s economy.

Our organizations, which include the membership of the nonpartisan Campaign for Fair Education Funding, are as diverse as the constituents you and your colleagues represent, yet we have come together in agreement that all of Pennsylvania’s students – no matter where they live – deserve an opportunity to meet state academic standards and to be prepared for success in college or a career. That can only be achieved through sufficient, sustainable, predictable, and long-term investment in our public schools.

Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts of any state in the country. We are one of only three states without a school funding formula. With your leadership, Pennsylvania can shift from being a case study in unpredictable and inequitable public school funding to setting the standard for delivering fair funding that meets the needs of every child.

In June, the BEFC, unanimously and in a bipartisan way, developed a new funding formula to help Pennsylvania make the transition to fair and predictable funding. We urge you to act in a similar bipartisan fashion to enact that formula with a final budget package. We further urge that you pass a budget that increases basic education funding by at least $410 million to help schools recover from the impact of lower revenues in recent years and to begin implementing the formula. Failure to do so will only continue the cycle of program cuts and staff reductions that have occurred at many schools in recent years.

We know that you and all Pennsylvania lawmakers want the brightest future possible for every child in the state. Please move quickly to resolve your differences and make our children a top priority in any agreement so that this long-delayed budget is worth the wait for them.

Sincerely,

 

Carey Harris, Executive Director
A+ Schools

 

Craig Robbins, Executive Director
Action United

 

Rick Bloomingdale, President
AFL-CIO of PA

Patrick Dowd, Executive Director
Allies for Children

 

Dot McLane, President
American Association of University
Women – PA

 

Candy Lerner, Executive Director
American Federation of Teachers – PA

 

Linda Croushore, Executive Director
Consortium for Public Education

Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director
Education Law Center

 

Susan Spicka, Co-Founder
Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley

 

Ron Cowell, President
Education Policy and Leadership Center

 

Susan Gobreski, Executive Director
Education Voters – PA

 

George Stern, Executive Director
Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN)

 

Lawrence Feinberg, Coalition Co-Chair/Blogger
Keystone State Education Coalition

 

Steve Herzenberg, Executive Director
Keystone Research Center

 

Susan Carty, President
League of Women Voters of PA

 

Dr. Marianne Bartley, Member
Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools (PLUS)

 

The Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Director
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA

 

Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair
PA NAACP

 

Andrea Kline Glickman, Executive Director
National Council of Jewish Women

 

Misty Whelan, President
PA Association for College Admissions Counseling

 

Paul Healey, Executive Director
PA Association of Elementary & Secondary School Principals

 

Tom Gluck, Executive Director
PA Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU)

 

Joe Bard, Executive Director
PA Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)

 

Jim Buckheit, Executive Director
PA Association of School Administrators (PASA)

 

Jay Himes, Executive Director
PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)

 

Judy Morgitan, President
PA Association of School Nurses and Practitioners

 

Jeff Garis, Outreach and Engagement Director
PA Budget and Policy Center

 

David Patti, President and CEO
PA Business Council

 

Robert Fayfich, Executive Director
PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools

 

Janet A. Gulick, Interim Executive Director
PA Council of Churches

 

Sundrop Carter, Executive Director
PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)

 

Lois Campbell, Executive Director
PA Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN)

 

Rick Schuettler, Executive Director
PA Municipal League

 

Joan Benso, President and CEO
PA Partnerships for Children

 

Debbie Munson, President
PA PTA

 

Laura Saccente, Director
PA Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network

 

Nathan G. Mains, Executive Director
Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)

 

Debra Kachel, MLS
PA School Librarians Association

 

James Vaughan, Executive Director
PA State Education Association (PSEA)

 

Jonathan Cetel, Executive Director
PennCAN

 

Pat Eiding, President
Philadelphia AFL-CIO

 

Ron Whitehorne
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools

 

Darren Spielman, President and CEO
Philadelphia Education Fund

 

Jerry Jordan, President
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

 

Dwayne Royster, Executive Director
Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (POWER)

 

Jude-Laure Dennis, Executive Director
P.O.W.E.R Northeast

 

Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President
Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers

 

Donna Cooper, Executive Director
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)

 

Jennifer R. Clarke, Executive Director
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia

 

Ashley DeMauro, State Director
StudentsFirst in PA

 

Bettie McClairen, Michelle Shields, Joan Duvall-Flynn, Executive Team
Trauma Informed Education Coalition

 

Rosalyn J. McPherson, President and CEO
Urban League of Philadelphia

 

Esther L. Bush, President
Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh

 

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