State of the States
Rendell: Stronger Schools for Stronger Workforce
• Gov. Edward G. Rendell
The governor of Pennsylvania has proposed increasing precollegiate education spending as a part of his bid to strengthen the state’s competitiveness.
SPENDING HIKE: In his fourth budget address since becoming governor, the Democrat asked state lawmakers to approve a $25.4 billion spending plan. He sought support for making “major new investments” in the Keystone State’s workforce by boosting precollegiate education spending to $8.6 billion in fiscal 2007, a 6.4 percent increase over fiscal 2006.
If approved, that budget would represent a 5 percent hike in the basic education subsidy to the state’s 501 school districts.
HIGH SCHOOL: The proposed education spending includes $200 million to put laptop computers on the desks of all high school students in core courses by 2009, and $3 million to bolster college and career counseling. Funding for the state’s Project 720, which seeks to add rigor to the high school curriculum, would increase from $4.3 million to $9 million and expand the program from 75 to 105 schools.
The proposed budget would also increase the amount available under the state’s accountability block grants from $200 million to $250 million. Districts can use that money for such actions as reducing class size or offering full-day kindergarten or prekindergarten programs. Another $10 million would be set aside for expanding a pilot science curriculum to 150 elementary schools.
Gov. Rendell’s spending plan would also raise foundation funding from $22.3 million to $64 million. He added that aid to Pennsylvania’s budget last year. It is intended to narrow spending gaps between districts by funneling more money to low-income, heavily taxed districts.
Vol. 25, Issue 23, Page 20