Study shows Pa. schools continue to face tight money

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The financial condition of school districts continues to worsen, according to a survey done for the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

The organizations' fourth-annual survey, which was released Thursday, cited reduced levels of state and federal contributions to total school costs, steeply rising pension costs and other increased costs, saying they have led to "unprecedented reductions in programs and school staff."

In a news release, Jim Buckheit, executive director of PASA, said, "Unfortunately, this year's survey results show that the landscape has not changed and the financial condition of school districts across the Commonwealth continues to deteriorate.

"These financial challenges continue to create significant obstacles in maintaining the high-quality educational programs provided to students."

The survey was answered by 56 percent of the state's school districts, serving 63 percent of the state's K-12 enrollment.

The survey was taken between April 14 and May 1 by Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based independent research firm with a focus on education. A grant from the William Penn Foundation paid for the survey.

Based on the responding districts, the findings include:

  • More than three-fourths plan to increase property taxes next year, the largest number in five years.
  • Nearly 60 percent have laid off staff since 2010-11. Teachers account for more than 40 percent of these furloughs.
  • About 70 percent haven't filled some positions after retirements and resignations.
  • More than a fourth have put hiring freezes into effect.
  • In the coming year, about one in seven are planning to lay off teachers.
  • Class sizes have increased in 64 percent since 2010-11.
  • Since 2010-11, 783 academic programs have been cut, with another 370 expected to be reduced or eliminated in the coming school year.
  • One-third are expecting to reduce, eliminate or charge a fee for some extracurricular activities.

The results can be found at

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955. First Published June 5, 2014 9:35 AM

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