On February 7th, Governor Corbett presented his first draft of the 2012-2013 budget. The Governor touted increased education funding for K-12 by 3.7%, legislature decried cuts in basic education subsidy. What does the data substantiate for our District?
Beginning this fiscal year, 2012-13, the Governor combined funding for basic education, school employees social security and transportation for public, nonpublic, charter and IU students into one line item entitled, “Student Achievement Education Block Grant”, (SAEBG) to provide school districts with more flexibility in their operations.
The budgetary data for WCASD is summarized below:
SAEBG $ 14,516,461 $ 14,678,343
Special Ed $ 5,028,002 $ 5,028,002
PSERs $ 3,834,909 $ 6,026,432
Total $23,379,372 $25,732,777
A quick calculation using the Governor’s formula indicates SAEBG funding increased by 1% from last year and our PSERs funding increased 57%, the State’s mandatory contribution, with special education flat funded. However, the data does not include the loss of an accountability block grant of $126,662 nor does it return funding eliminated in 2011-2012 for charter school reimbursements of $1,478,000. Taking the loss of $126,662 into account, the adjusted increase in state funding is $35,220 or a 0.15% increase year over year. The governor has shifted all funding for charter schools to the local level. WCASD anticipates $7.7 million for charter schools expense in 2012-2013. The long-term impact of block grant funding raises concerns that state funding will not keep pace with actual expenditures. The Governor is effectively shifting more responsibility to the local districts for public education funding. This could be problematic for WCASD in the long term if our current Board maintains we can continue to balance the budget through expense cuts and non-property tax revenues. The goal of WCASD should be to continue the work of a strong district without weakening it through cuts in staff and programs.