PCCY, Shapiro call for greater pub­lic school fund­ing

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Jenny DeHuff

Call­ing state bud­get cuts in pub­lic school fund­ing handed down “dra­co­nian,” rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Pub­lic Cit­i­zens for Chil­dren and Youth as­sem­bled on the Mont­gomery County Court­house steps Oct. 31 to push IRU D nHw IRUPuOD IRU finDnFing county school dis­tricts.

Joined by Mont­gomery County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­man Josh Shapiro, Donna Cooper, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of PCCY, said tKDt finGLnJV Ln D nHw 3CCY re­port re­vealed that ap­prox­i­mately 15,700 Mont­gomery County stu­dents are not read­ing, writ­ing or do­ing math­e­mat­ics at grade level.

“In the last four years, this county has seen dra- matic growth in the num­ber of chil­dren who are com­ing into the schools who have more needs than the school dis­tricts are used to meet­ing,” Cooper said. “The poverty rate in the county for chil­dren in K-12 schools has grown by 45 per­cent in only four years. Ev­ery school dis­trict in Mont­gomery County has seen the num­ber of low­in­come chil­dren rise, and that means the school dis­tricts need to ad­dress how they teach in new ways.”

PCCY, a Philadel­phi­aEDVHG nRnSUR­fit RUJDnLzD­tion, ad­vo­cates for im­prove­ments in the lives and life chances of chil­dren in the Delaware Val­ley. Cooper and Shapiro stood with about a dozen or more par­ents from area school dis­tricts to tout the ini­tia­tive.

Ac­cord­ing to some of the finGLnJV Ln tKH UHSRUt, tLtOHG “The Bot­tom Line is Chil­dren: Pub­lic Ed­u­ca­tion in Mont­gomery County,” a lit­tle more than half the county’s chil­dren have the op­tion to at­tend full-day kinder­garten and there is a short­fall of $142,000 per class­room be­tween the high­est- and low­est-spend­ing dis­tricts. The re­port states that $34 mil­lion in state fund­ing is needed to have “ad­e­quate re­sources to sup­port the needs of ev­ery stu­dent.”

“Let me make it very clear that the state of our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem in Mont­gomery County is strong,” Shapiro said, adding that the county has the high­est grad­u­a­tion rate in all of south­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. “But what is clear from this PCCY re­port is that we have a lot more work to do to sus­tain that strength in the com­ing years. First and fore­most, we need a pre­dictable fund­ing for­mula for Mont­gomery County and for Penn­syl­va­nia. About 12 cents for ev­ery dol­lar in­vested in a stu­dent comes from the state and about a cent and a half or two cents comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, leav­ing 86 cents to be funded by prop­erty taxes. That’s not a sus­tain­able fund­ing for­mula.

“So whether it’s the tax­pay­ers or our stu­dents suf­fer­ing be­cause we don’t have a pre­dictable, con­sis­tent, eq­ui­table fund­ing for­mula, it’s an is­sue that ab­so­lutely needs to be ad­dressed, and ad­dressed now, at the state level.”

Ul­ti­mately, the re­port rec­om­mends the county to have the op­tion to of­fer full­day kinder­garten for ev­ery FKLOG, LnFUHDVH tKH finDnFLDO re­sources to close aca­demic gaps in the county’s need­i­est dis­tricts — Nor­ris­town and Pottstown — and for lo­cal lead­ers to es­tab­lish a coun­ty­wide coali­tion fo­cused on boost­ing mone­tary in­vest­ment in lo­cal school dis­tricts at the com­mon­wealth level.

Photo by GENE WALSH

Whitemarsh res­i­dent Anne Gem­mell speaks on the need for more ed­u­ca­tional fund­ing dur­ing a Pub­lic Cit­i­zens for Chil­dren and Youth press con­fer­ence in Nor­ris­town Oct. 31.

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