Governor Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf Discuss the Impact of Education Funding Increases in Philadelphia during “Schools that Teach” Roundtable and Tour

May 29, 2015

Philadelphia, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf today continued their “Schools That Teach” tour in Philadelphia, where they heard from teachers and administrators in the Philadelphia School District about the district’s plans to ensure that education funding from the governor’s 2015-16 budget goes directly into the classroom.

“Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom in the country in state funding for K through 12 education and my proposed budget makes historic investments at all levels – early childhood education through higher education,” said Governor Wolf. “After years of funding cuts that resulted in the loss of educators, increased class sizes, and cuts to valuable programs, I want to ensure that the new funding in my budget reaches the classroom and directly impacts student achievement. Focusing on education will allow us to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth.”

Governor Wolf’s budget proposal restores massive cuts made over the last four years, with a commitment to increase school funding by $2 billion over four years by instituting a commonsense severance tax on oil and natural gas. Governor Wolf’s proposal, called the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act, is expected to generate over a billion dollars by 2017 by enacting a reasonable 5% severance tax plus 4.7 cents per thousand feet of volume on natural gas extraction.

In a roundtable discussion at William H. Hunter Elementary School, the governor and first lady heard from school leaders and stakeholders about their plans to offer advanced courses and STEM-focused programs to prepare students for higher education, as well as to provide assistance through professional development, college and career counseling, and technical education to ensure smooth transitions into the workforce. The district also hopes to provide personalized help and community partnerships to assist struggling students and their families, as well as restore enrichment programs like music, arts, world languages, and library services.

“This is an important opportunity for districts to have comprehensive conversations about how to invest this funding on proven resources and programs that will improve student learning,” Governor Wolf said. “What is being proposed here in Philadelphia is a prime example of a plan that will ensure this historic education investment reaches the classroom while providing clear benchmarks to measure the results of student achievement.”

“You can see what happens when children have access to opportunities. We need Governor Wolf’s funding to open up those opportunities in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite. “Here in our district, we are asking each school to tell us how they’d use the additional funding in the governor’s budget to their unique needs. We look forward to working with the governor to deliver resources that Philadelphia desperately needs.”

In March, Department of Education Acting Secretary Pedro Rivera sent a letter to superintendents in all 500 districts detailing accountability measures to ensure the education funding proposed in Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 budget is spent directly on students in the classroom to allow them to compete in a modern economy. In the letter, Acting Secretary Rivera called on districts to submit plans to ensure this new investment reaches the classroom and to measure results for Pennsylvania’s students. As of yesterday, 92 percent of Pennsylvania school districts across the commonwealth submitted funding impact plans to the state Department of Education, outlining how the governor’s proposed $400 million basic education funding increase will be invested directly in classrooms.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sheridan – 717.783.1116

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