Schools Call on State for Funding, Fixes

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SCRANTON -- School administrators from Lackawanna, Wayne, and Susquehanna Counties met Wednesday to release a report on the financial health of Pennsylvania's public schools.

Those administrators also chimed in on how Governor Wolf's proposed natural gas tax could help, or hinder, the public school system.

Those school administrators met at Scranton High School to go over the findings of a survey that asked more than 300 school districts about their financial health. The administrators there say the survey calls for not only more state funding for public education, but also recommends some fixes to the system.

The school administrators and board members come from districts of different sizes and varied communities. But, they say, they all have similar financial problems outlined in a lengthy survey put together by school administrators from across the state.

The report shows that a few things have hurt schools financially over the past decade: pension obligations, funding for charter and cyber schools, and limits on property tax hikes.

"So, what we hope to gain is that Harrisburg takes a look at this and sees that we need help. We've struggled, we have put a huge burden on our local taxpayers with property tax because that's the only point that we can make, the only control that we have in our funding is property taxes," said Rose Emmett, Western Wayne School District business administrator.

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf announced a potentially major infusion of money into the state's schools from a tax on natural gas production that would be distributed evenly among public schools.

But the administrators here say that severance tax would likely go toward funding teacher pensions, only solving one of their financial problems.

"Of course, my stand is that we need to critically look at the pension system to change it, because currently it is unsustainable," said Abington Heights School Board president Cathy Hardaway.

Of course, these school officials support any state money they can get. Taking away the pension burden would free up other funds. Hardaway says it doesn't fix the root of the problem.

"It is definitely the time to look at changes to the pension system. Currently, Governor Wolf's position is to have an infusion of money into the system as opposed to change it."

The school officials we talked to said on top of the proposed severance tax, they are also hoping Harrisburg can give them more money and the freedom to spend it how they think best.


  • wayne

    reread this and the only conclusion to make is the word more-more—more———–in every area those in public education always want and take-more more and more—they have become a money pit and a millstone around the necks of our citizens who don’t have their guaranteed fixed pensions–few actually have fixed pensions anymore in the private sector actually just as very very few have seen their incomes rise anywhere near what our public school teachers have received over the past several decades now——-net effect ?property owners in this state have become considerably poorer to make the members of these teachers unions considerably more well doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this can not go on just as anyone can easily see state government in part has forced a lot of this onto its citizens while doing their part less and less-after all–its easy for our state representatives to pass this problem right into the laps of our local officials rather than giving more financial help as is done in so many other states

  • J

    According to Cabot’s advertisements, the teachers are already getting money from the gas industry! Bob said it best!
    Shoveling money into a bucket without a bottom will not fix the problem.
    and Overpaid is right. If you teachers think you’re “underpaid” MOVE ON! There’s plenty more to take your place.

  • Frustrated

    Not paid that well? Really? Let’s see…..fully paid for pension (by the taxpayers), summer’s off (paid), a long winter break, home for every school delay (paid), paid for 2 hour delays, etc…….I think a major change in needed. The taxpayers cannot bear any more burden….

  • Gimmee More

    Payback by Wolf to the state teacher’s union for their financial support in the election. You could see this one coming a mile away.

  • Fed Up

    I would like to state that the biggest issue the Districts are facing is one they brought on themselves. Just before the 2008 crash the Districts got the bright idea to petition the state to allow them to NOT pay their share into the teachers pension fund as contracted. They said the market was good and they wanted to invest the money to make money and would pay later. Well the crash happened and they lost so now they want to blame the teachers who continued to pay in all along. The Districts had an obligation to pay this money and made an extremely poor decision based on greed. Now they want to blame the teachers and they , the teachers are not to blame. Teachers DO NOT make that much money, they take care of , teach, socialize, and basically raise the majority of their students as parents do less and less. When there is any problem who does everyone turn to? The schools. Instead of teaching we are now raising everyone’s kids and this is the thanks we get. Please try to remember you are entrusting these people with your children and as the saying goes you get what you pay for so think about it before passing judgement on teachers. Besides I love to see how many of the complainers could actually do the job teachers do without loosing their minds. Most adults don’t spend any more time with kids then they have to and then its only a few not 25 and 30 in a classroom. Next time you want to complain stop and think, yes there are always bad apples in the basket but the majority are hard working and care a great deal about your kids so think about it and maybe a thank you would be in order.

    • Overpaid and underworked

      A THANK YOU WOULD BE IN ORDER??? I think you have it backwards, a nice little twist you put on it, nice try. You see, when someone is paying you for your services, YOU ARE THE ONE THAT SAYS THANK YOU. And you are being paid for your services, if the work you feel you are performing is not compensated enough, then move on. And as far as your quote, “you get what you pay for” that’s true, AND SOMETIMES YOU GET LESS THAN YOU PAY FOR TOO. As we have been getting less productivity from the schools over the past 20 years. And as far as those teachers that say they have to buy the supplies, out of their pocket. I have 3 words for you, PUT UP CAMERAS, because someone is stealing them from the supply closets.

      • slowryder

        Could you please cite your research with schools being less productive over the past 20 years? Did you ever thank any of your teachers for giving you the ability to read the article? Probably not. Do teachers come to your place of work and complain that you are not working hard enough? Guess what….If you are my boss and you pay my salary, then I guess when we visit stores, movies, restaurants we should be rude and obnoxious because we are everyone’s boss. Such arrogance, jealousy, and unfounded facts.

    • Jude

      Just look at the thumbs up and thumbs down on this thread. You teachers have lost public ( you employer’s) support and must face economic reality sooner or later.

      • slowryder

        OK….let’s pay the teachers babysitter pay because, let’s be honest, that’s what you think of them…. $8 an hour? Sign me up! The way I see it:
        30 students
        7 hours per day…..
        that’s $1,680/day….or..
        $8,400/week. Not bad money huh? Let’s get something straight….you are not, and never will be intelligent enough to be their boss. Great job teachers! Please keep up the good fight and forget about the people who trat you like thieves befause you need a living wage. Those 10 years of college and counting do not come cheap! Yep….10 years for many who hold multiple masters degrees and continuing ed credits. Would you pay a lawyer $41K/year?

      • I thank the ones who teach

        Hey Slowryder save the story for your students, 10 YEARS? That might be true if you are going for your masters right out of the gate, and you took semesters off or had to take a few classes over. But most teachers get it done in 4 years, with a bachelors, and long as they get that education degree, they can teach. Then when they get hired, they go back to school to further their education on the school districts dime. So the district pays for the them to go back to school, then when they have another degree, they receive another pay raise, usually for the same job. I went to school for 8 years, and received my Doctorate. No spring breaks in Cancun, no summers off, strictly school. I do not usually engage in these comment forums. But the remark you made to a person, in regards to their intelligence, and something about a French fry machine, kind of took me back. Reminded me of a grade school teacher I had, who would openly tell students, who were not getting, algebra, or geometry, that they could get a job at Burger King. I never forgot those statements, and thought he should have been reprimanded, or suspended for talking to young students in that manner. There is good and bad in all fields, and you, I am guessing, go in, punch your card, get paid, and go home. Just my opinion, from your comments made, I could be wrong.

      • never enough for some

        Slowryder…Not bad money huh? Let’s get something straight….you are not, and never will be intelligent enough to be their boss……Typical remark from a typical teacher, who thinks they are above everyone else in the room. Sucking off the school districts purse. It’s all about the kids, until you have to make a $5 dollar co-pay for a prescription, then you go on strike. It’s not all about the kids when you hits your pocket a little, is it?? But there are some good teachers, and by reading your comments, you are not one of them

      • slowryder

        Soooooo. Those who can do and those who can’t teach is acceptable? I never went to Cancun. Taught special education for 10 years and mental health Professio al for 5. I have a bachelors and 2 masters degrees which I paid for from my own pocket. You should get a refund on that degree….they forgot to teach you the important things….I do my job because I love it. Stereotypes are dangerous….My thoughts are that you have no real world experience…..a career student? Just my opinion (stereotypes hurt right?) I am guessing you never thanked a teacer so your screen name is misleading.

    • they work 180 days a year

      HEY FED UP…..WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT HERE???? NOT THAT MUCH MONEY??? The Districts had an obligation to pay this money and made an extremely poor decision based on greed. Now they want to blame the teachers and they , the teachers are not to blame. Teachers DO NOT make that much money, they take care of , teach, socialize, and basically raise the majority of their students as parents do less and less.
      The average teacher salary in Western Wayne School District is $48,116.
      Pre-school $27,360 $20,180 $22,880 $26,360 $29,910 $33,330
      Kindergarten $55,140 $35,990 $42,880 $56,770 $67,290 $75,360
      Elementary $54,230 $35,450 $41,780 $53,040 $66,540 $78,530
      Middle school $48,800 $32,370 $37,710 $47,170 $59,830 $70,790
      High school $55,050 $37,320 $45,550 $55,650 $65,830 $74,330

  • just sayin

    The School Officials want Harrisburg to give them money and let them spend it how they think best! Yeh, let’s use it for salary increases and benefit packages and for pension increases! While the rest of the tax paying community has their health benefits and pensions reduced let’s use the money to shore up their benefits. Sounds like this will increase the quality of education!

      • slowryder

        You really should have paid attention in school because your sentence structure is terrible. You really do not have to YELL either. I just have one question……Is there an exact amount of salt you have to put on the fries at Mcdonalds? Oh wait…..fry machine is too advanced for you.
        Really nice attitude for those teaching the future…..bitter I guess! It’s OK, there can’t be smart people without people like you for comparison.

      • I'm a teacher, I'm smart, just ask me,I'll tell you I am smart!!

        Yes, that is pretty close to the reply I was expecting, from a self centered, egotistical, self-absorbed person. Who gets fulfilled by feeling in charge, of children.

      • slowryder

        And…..there it is.
        save the witty responses….I am done. I guess I cannot defend myself…self centered is not accepting anyone else or their choices (sound familiar) you have no idea how wrong you are about me.

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