A second year of stagnant or reduced funding for public education has resulted in more layoffs, larger class sizes and reduced fund balances, according to a survey released today by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
The electronic survey, which was taken in August, was answered by 264 of the state's 500 school districts. Public school funding was reduced by more than $900 million in 2011-12, largely as a result of the end of the federal economic stimulus. That money was not restored in the 2012-13 state budget.
Extrapolating the results to cover the whole state, the survey estimates the second year of tight funding resulted in nearly 4,200 positions eliminated or left vacant in 2012-13, following the loss of 14,590 positions in 2011-12.
Of those who responded, 30 percent furloughed employees this school year, with nearly half of the furloughs affecting teachers. Nearly a quarter had a wage freeze in place this year.
Other findings from the respondents include:
• Eight school districts reduced or eliminated pre-kindergarten and six reduced or eliminated full-day kindergarten in 2012-13.
• 43 percent reduced elective course offerings.
• 40 percent delayed buying textbooks.
• 32 percent reduced or eliminated programs providing tutoring or extra help.
• 72 percent dipped into reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget. Combined with the prior year's survey, 52 percent responding to both used the reserves both years.
• 43 percent reduced or eliminated student field trips and 30 percent reduced or eliminated extracurricular activities.
Education writer Eleanor Chute: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955.