Democratic officials criticize education funding cuts

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In large part because of state budget cuts, some class sizes in the Gateway School District have risen from a maximum of 25 to a ceiling of 30 or above. The district has also furloughed 18 teachers and cut some elective classes.

"We've had to cut athletic programs, which did not go over well," said Jan Rawson, a member of the Gateway school board. "We had no choice... we're doing the best we can."

Ms. Rawson and other educators and politicans spoke Downtown at a "back to school" press conference this afternoon organized by the state and local Democratic party to decry cuts in education funding.

Under Gov. Tom Corbett, state funding for higher education has been reduced by about $800 million -- primarily federal stimulus money that the state did not replace.

"They were expecting the state to make up that difference in funding but taxpayers are already putting nearly $11 billion into basic education this year," said Tim Eller, press secretary for the state department of education.

The Gateway School District, which educates about 3,800 students in Monroeville and Pitcairn, has seen its budget reduced by $2 million from funding cuts and $2 million from a stagnant economy, said Steve O'Donnell, vice president of the school board.

In addition to overall funding cuts, state legislator Eugene DePasquale, D-York, criticized the governor for the elimination of the charter school reimbursement, as well as the lack of a tax on the shale gas industry.

"If Governor Corbett said, 'We're going to put an extraction tax on shale and put it into education,' two-thirds of the legislature would vote for it in a heartbeat," he said.

education - breaking - electionspa

Anya Sostek: asostek@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1308. First Published August 16, 2012 4:45 PM


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