The Governor has previewed one of his education proposals for the upcoming 2014-15 state budget. Governor Corbett intends to ask the Legislature to include $1 million in the budget for the Governor’s Expanding Excellence Program. The program would provide competitive funding to schools that have attained a 90 or higher on the School Performance Profile and are willing to analyze and share best practices that have proven to raise student achievement. Grant recipients will be responsible for supporting schools across the state that strive to replicate these strategies and techniques.
In addition, on January 30, Governor Corbett previewed his plan to increase the PA Pre-K Counts program by $10 million which would afford approximately 1,670 additional Pennsylvania pre-school children access high-quality early learning. The additional $10 million would bring total increased investment in Pre-K Counts under the Corbett Administration to $13.6 million, or 16.3 percent. The Pre-K Counts program is designed for children who are between age 3 and the entry age for kindergarten; are at risk of school failure due to considerations such as English language learning or special needs; and are living in families earning up to 300 percent of the federal income poverty level, such as a family of two, earning $46,530. The proposed funding will help supplement a $51.7 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant awarded to Pennsylvania in December 2013. In response to Governor Corbett, Representative Louise Williams Bishop, Democratic chairwoman of the House Children and Youth Committee, introduced legislation that would begin the effort of restoring Corbett’s budget cuts.
House Resolution 605 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the financial impact of the Corbett cuts on Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts – as well as the impact of those cuts on school property taxes. It would also initiate a comprehensive review and analysis of what it would take to reinstate a basic education funding formula based on the public education Costing-Out Study. The Costing-Out Study was a legislative initiative that was finalized in 2007 and was in effect for three consecutive budget years, but was abandoned by Corbett in his first year in office.