PCCY, Shapiro call for greater public school funding
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.
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.