Sara Satullo has a very good article on Tom Corbett’s cuts to the BASD, but she is forgetting something very important:
Educators shared the ramifications of Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget cuts with Lehigh Valley state Reps. Steve Samuelson and Joe Brennan Friday during a roundtable talk at the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley.
“It begins to tax the system to the point where we say, ‘How much more can the system take?’” said George White, the executive director of Lehigh University’sCenter for Developing Urban Educational Leaders. “This community is doing 110 percent and it can’t do much more.”Corbett’s first budget decimated state Accountability Block Grant funding, axed charter school reimbursements and cut districts’ state subsidy, Samuelson said.
“Cutting education funding is so short sighted,” he said, noting neither he nor Brennan voted for the budget.Corbett has previously said that his first budget was “reality based” and the cuts were necessary to ensure the state wasn’t spending money it didn’t have.
It led the Bethlehem Area School District to cut 8 percent of its work force – including the ousting of 12 of 16 family development specialists, eliminating team teaching in middle schools and scaling back its pre-k program to 80 students from 300, Superintendent Joseph Roy said.
The district is now relying heavily on volunteers, grants and donations to maintain after-school programs, tutoring and bring social services to families.
Roy said he can’t make any more cuts without seriously driving up class size or making drastic changes like eliminating transportation. Bethlehem’s 2012-13 budget is expected to be extremely painful.
I never see journalists mention this, but Corbett and the Republicans also reversed Ed Rendell’s changes to the formula for allocating state aid, which gave more assistance to economically disadvantaged school districts. He could easily have kept the same distribution formula and then made the $1.1 billion in cuts. But he didn’t. He deliberately chose to cut aid in a more regressive way than he had to.
I really think this needs to be a part of any story about budget cuts in urban school districts.