Pledging to Relieve School Districts of Financial Burdens

WEST CHESTER (March 22) – Recognizing the budgetary constraints and challenges facing Pennsylvania’s school districts, Senators Andy Dinniman and Jeff Piccola, the chairs of the Senate Education Committee, unveiled today a comprehensive legislative package intended to relieve schools of costly state mandates.

[custom_frame_right][/custom_frame_right] The 2011-2012 spending plan proposed by Governor Corbett requires substantial reductions to the state education budget to address a $4 billion deficit. In an effort to provide the Commonwealth’s schools with flexibility to balance their budgets and reduce costs, members have introduced a bipartisan package of 18 bills designed to relieve what lawmakers call ‘onerous’ mandates outlined in the Pennsylvania School Code.

Some of the measures being proposed include allowing districts to forgo filing non-essential reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in years when state education aid declines, waiving continuing education requirements for school districts that are succeeding and increasing the monetary threshold for bidding on contracts.

During a press conference with their colleagues in the Senate, Dinniman and Piccola emphasized that relieving school districts of expensive mandates and giving them the flexibility to meet the educational needs of children is the intent of their legislation.

“It is imperative that we take steps to reduce the amount of onerous, outdated and unnecessary restrictions that bog down our school districts and take the focus away from learning. Many of these mandates are decades-old and don’t have anything to do with education,” Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the committee, said. “These efforts are a step in the right direction to eliminate red tape, reduce costs and allow schools to concentrate on their most important task – preparing students for the future.”

“Our goal is to reduce the numerous restrictions and directives currently hamstringing school districts so that learning environments can be improved for all students. Together, we believe that by eliminating these bureaucratic hoops for school districts teachers can focus on teaching and administrators can have greater control in leading their schools, and ultimately a quality educational opportunity for our kids can be provided at a reasonable cost,” said Piccola, majority chair of the committee.

Recognizing that the state’s economic future is closely tied to a strong education system, Dinniman and Piccola underscored the need for this legislative package and the importance of relieving school districts of significant cost drivers.

Dinniman sponsored three bills as part of the package. They are as follows:

  • Senate Bill 329 – Legislation that calls for suspending nonessential reports not involving budget, financial, or safety information from school districts to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in years which state education funding decreases.
  • Senate Bill 202 – Legislation that would create a residency teaching certificate, which is an alternative pathway to permit skilled professionals in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (as well as other fields where there are teacher shortages) to bring their real world knowledge and experience to the classroom.
  • Senate Bill 844 – Legislation that would waive annual administrative training requirements from school districts that succeed in making annual yearly progress or show growth in student progress assessments.

For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s District Office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail acirucci@pasenate.com.

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