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Governor Corbett Calls For Four-Year, $1 Billion Investment In Schools

2013-14 Education Budget Increases Funding $338 Million; Invests in Rigorous, Student-Focused Initiatives

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today unveiled his 2013-14 state budget that invests an additional $338.1 million into education and ensures that schools provide student-focused educational programs.

In total, $11.7 billion, or 41 percent, of the state's General Fund budget is slated for early, basic and higher education and public libraries.

"Governor Corbett has proposed to invest a historic level of funding into public education to ensure that students are offered high-quality academic programs," Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said.

"Since education is the foundation of the state's economy, Pennsylvania's students deserve to have access to quality programs that will ensure their success in the future. The appropriate skills and academic credentials will afford our students the opportunity to remain competitive in a global economy."

Corbett's 2013-14 state budget would increase the Basic Education Funding line item by $90 million, or 1.7 percent, to $5.5 billion – the highest investment in state history. This increase will be allocated through a student-focused supplement, which will be based on a school district's average daily membership and state aid ratio.

The governor also renewed his call to privatize the state's wine and spirit stores and investing the proceeds, estimated at $1 billion, into K-12 education.

These funds would be directed into a four-year Passport for Learning Block Grant.

Pennsylvania's school districts would share the grant funds to invest in four, student-focused, initiatives including: school safety, "Ready by 3," individualized learning programs, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
  • School safety is a key component to student success in school. In January, Corbett met with school superintendents, teachers and security personnel to listen to their thoughts about and suggestions for improving school safety. With a variety of needs across the state, Corbett believes that each district should determine where investments should be made. Funds could be used for school safety and security efforts, including training for employees, enhanced security measures and partnerships with local law enforcement.
  • "Ready by 3" is an initiative the governor believes is critical to a solid academic foundation early in a student's education. The focus is to ensure that students are performing at grade level by third grade, based on the Pennsylvania Common Core Academic Standards.  Schools could invest in quality kindergarten programs and enrichment programs that promote academic achievement in elementary reading and math.
  • Recognizing that students learn differently and at their own pace, Corbett's proposal includes an initiative for a self-paced, customized learning plan that would be based on a student's proficiency in academic standards.  Schools could use grant funds to finance start-up costs to implement Competency-Based Education programs that move away from seat-time requirements to a model that is based on a student's mastery of specific course content.
  • Enhancing access to STEM course work and programs is critical to preparing today's students for the jobs of tomorrow. Public schools could invest in programs that support STEM in grades 6-12, including career exploration activities, opportunities for technical skill attainment and partnerships with postsecondary education and training programs.

The budget also calls for a mandate waiver program to provide the ability for school districts to apply to the Department of Education for a waiver from certain provisions of the Public School Code.

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