State of the States
Gov. Rendell Places High Schools in Spotlight
In his education priorities for fiscal year 2006, Gov. Edward G. Rendell is paying special attention to early childhood programs, tutoring for struggling students, and improving high schools.
The Democratic governor’s $23.8 billion state spending plan, unveiled in his budget address Feb. 10, boosts overall state spending by 1.9 percent over last year. But precollegiate education gets a bigger increase—2.7 percent, up to $7.9 billion.
As part of his new initiative to ensure Pennsylvanians are well trained for the workplace, Gov. Rendell proposed spending $5 million to create “dual enrollment” programs that would help high school students earn college credit. Another $4.7 million would be channeled to creating academically challenging high schools, with personalized learning environments and strong career and guidance counseling.
The budget proposal doubles to $76 million spending on an existing tutoring program that serves 35,000 students.
Gov. Rendell proposed doubling the state’s contribution to the federal Head Start preschool program, from $15 million to $30 million, a move that could enable an additional 2,500 children to participate.
His plan would hold level the current $200 million annual spending on block grants that districts can use for approved programs to improve achievement. A recent report on that program showed the money is most often used for preschool, full-day kindergarten, and class-size reduction in the early grades.
In an attempt to ease funding inequities between school districts, Gov. Rendell proposed for the first time using $23 million of the basic-education subsidy as a “foundation supplement” for 22 districts that spend less than $8,500 per student.
Vol. 24, Issue 23, Page 31