Schools Face Grim Reality With Education Cuts

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Schools Face Grim Reality With Education Cuts

Post  HopefulInPh on Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:28 am

Protests Over Education Cuts Flood Pa. Capitol
POSTED: 5:49 pm EDT April 5, 2011
UPDATED: 8:35 pm EDT April 5, 2011


HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Capitol is flooded with students and education advocates from around Pennsylvania protesting Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed funding cuts for public schools and universities.

Rallies on Tuesday included separate events by supporters of Philadelphia public schools, Penn State, Pitt and community colleges on a session day for lawmakers. One Penn State-Hazleton student, sophomore Aziza Sumler, said she won't be able to finish her degree there if tuition goes up.

McKeesport School District officials have warned that about 80 teachers could be laid off.

After-school programs, tutoring and all-day kindergarten also be on the chopping block.

The district said it will lose $4.4 million under Corbett's proposed budget.

Family of students at the district's George Washington Elementary school told Team 4's Paul Van Osdol the cuts have them worried.

"That's ridiculous. We don't have enough good teachers in this district to begin with, and the ones, the really good ones we have, those are the ones they'll probably get rid of," said grandparent Joy Stipkovits.

But the cuts aren't just affecting McKeesport. Every district is taking a hit.

Pittsburgh will take a 20 percent cut of $37 million. Penn Hills faces a 21 percent cut of $3.9 million, while Woodland Hills could lose $4.4 million, or 24 percent.

"There's only one way to make up that funding -- either you cut programs or raise taxes, and that's a dilemma I don't think any board wants to face," said Butch Santicola, of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Parent Jesse Walton said he'd be willing to pay more taxes if it meant getting his daughter a good education.

"We've already got enough problems with kids not wanting to learn. Now you're not going to have enough teachers for them to learn, so the ones that do want to learn are going to be suffering even more," he said.

Duquesne Elementary School teacher, coach and athletic director Stan Whiteman told Van Osdol that the grim outlook isn't stopping the faculty from doing its primary job.

"We're not letting it slow down our work ethic. We're showing up every day and doing everything in the best interests of students," said Whiteman.

A budget proposal by Duquesne's superintendent proposes the elimination of 35 of the 94 district jobs and freezing all other salaries.

Also, eliminating all extracurricular activities, sports, field trips and tutoring will still leave the district with a $2.9 million deficit.

"Duquesne will not be able to absorb that hit," said Santicola.

The district lost its high school four years ago and could be dismantled altogether.

"The community lives in this school district. The district is open for many community events. There are a lot of events. It would be completely devastating to the community," said Whiteman.

Republicans who control the Legislature said they expect their counterproposal to Corbett will ease some of the universities' pain.

However, Corbett and his fellow Republicans are trying to address a multibillion-dollar deficit without raising taxes, and it's not clear where they'll find additional money.

Corbett's proposed cuts include a 50 percent reduction for state-supported universities.

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