Update on Erie’s Public Schools Situation

The financial outlook for the Erie School District remains bleak. The current approach is to try to get financial assistance to them for the 16-17 school year to allow time for what would hopefully be a longer term solution. A longer term solution could involve reigning in costs of charter schools (Erie currently spends 23 million per year on charters) and working with the state to find a way to more fairly fund Erie and other districts who have diverse populations.

Senate Bill 1304, sponsored by Senator Wiley, uses a formula to identify districts in serious financial trouble at this time. It would pump 150 million dollars into 12 districts that are in the deepest financial trouble. Another bill by Wiley, SB 1308, seeks to reign in Cyber Charter costs by requiring the appointment of cyber schools to serve a region based on lowest bid. Companies who wish to provide service via a charter school, would bid to provide the service (like we do everything else in government) and the cost would likely go down due to competition. Both these bills need support from the electorate to gain traction.

In the house, Flo Fabrizio has sponsored House Bill 2124. It would provide Erie temporary funding relief that would help with the present crisis as well.

The leadership of the House and Senate needs to hear that there is support for these bills. There is no need to contact local legislators as they are all on board. The legislators will be in Harrisburg beginning Monday, June 20 for the rest of the month, presumably to adopt a state budget. You can voice your support to the leadership by emailing and phoning their Harrisburg office. If you call, you will not speak to the legislator directly but their staffers will keep track of supporters for the bills.

Name House Position Capitol Office E-mail
Jay Costa Senate Minority Leader 717-787-7683 E-mail
Patrick Browne Senate Appropriations Chair 717-772-3458 E-mail
David Reed House House Majority Leader 717-705-7173 E-mail
Mike Turzai House Speaker of the House 717-772-9943 E-mail
Jake Corman Senate Senate Majority Leader 717-787-1377 E-mail
William Adolph House Majority Appropriations Chair 717-787-1248 E-mail