FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Sturla
Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee
Democratic Policy Committee studies impact
of education funding cuts
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 21 – The House Democratic Policy Committee heard from several western Pennsylvania education experts and school officials at a public hearing in Pittsburgh today to determine the impact the 2011 state budget has had on schools and to better assess what needs to be addressed in next year’s budget.
State Reps. Matt Smith, Dan Deasy and Chelsa Wagner, all D-Allegheny, served as its co-chairmen.
"I voted against the state budget because education investment is necessary to provide children and young adults with the tools necessary to compete in an ever-changing global economy," Smith said. "I predicted then, that the slashes to early childhood education, K-12 education, and higher education funding would have detrimental effects on our students and directly result in a generation of less-prepared, less-educated Pennsylvanians."
Smith continued, "Today we had the opportunity to hear directly from administrators and parents from local school districts, providers of support services and organizations that monitor education or study the effects on various populations in our region. Unfortunately, they confirmed my fears and it is clear that the draconian cuts are being felt in many ways."
"My vote against the budget was an attempt to prevent the problems that western Pennsylvania is currently facing. Just a few short months after the budget passed, we are already seeing the negative effects this budget is having on early childhood, K-12 and higher education, " Deasy said. "Today’s hearing provided an opportunity to hear from those affected by the drastic cuts to education and allows us to work on evaluating how we can better serve the needs of our children by adequately funding education in next year's budget."
"I opposed last year’s state budget because I believed it would be harmful to our schools and students. This hearing gave us the opportunity to hear from educators, parents and advocates experiencing firsthand how larger class sizes, less tutoring and fewer afterschool activities are truly affecting our children," Wagner said.
Those testifying at the hearing included Carey Harris, executive director, A+ Schools; William Hileman, executive board member-at-large and staff representative, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Martha Isler, public policy director, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Channing Martin, government relations associate, Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania; Dr. Timothy Steinhauer, superintendent of schools, Mt. Lebanon School District; Nancy Aloi Rose, acting superintendent, Bethel Park School District; Dr. Reggie Bonfield, superintendent, Northgate School District; April Weitzel, parent, Carlynton School District; Brigitte Jackson, parent, Northgate School District; James Brophy, director of operations, Outreach Teen and Family Services Inc.; Jennifer Beagan, senior program director, Allegheny Intermediate Unit; and Patrick Sable, chief financial officer, Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.