2011-2012 School District Budget Report Update
When Governor Tom Corbett announced that $1.18 billion, or 15% of Pennsylvania’s total education spending, would be cut from Pre-K-12 education in the 2011-2012 state budget, the AEC began looking for a way to accurately learn how local school districts were responding to changes in state funding levels. It has since chosen to monitor district budgets by compiling and analyzing school board minutes from Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties.
- The arts were not specifically targeted in school districts in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties when the 2011-2012 state budget cuts were implemented. When districts cut arts programming or staff, they also made cuts in other mandated content areas.
- Arts programming was maintained in districts where there was strong community support for the arts.
- STEAM grants were mentioned frequently in board minutes and may have played a part in the maintenance of arts education in the four counties.
- School districts in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties are still not singling out the arts for cuts. Staffing cuts appear to be the most commonly suggested change for the upcoming year, but many districts are looking at multifaceted strategies to reduce budget gaps. With these strategies, districts are considering a variety of tactics to reduce costs and generate revenues.
- There are no districts that are immune to the constraints of the tough economy. Even the most affluent schools are quickly learning how to be creative with their given budgets.
- School districts are engaging in advocacy for public education. During the past year, many districts have passed resolutions speaking out against reduced government funding for public schools (e.g., state funding for tuition vouchers, cyber charters). Other districts have contacted legislators to share their views on pending state and federal education legislation. Several districts have also begun marketing public schools to citizens in their communities.
- There is a general lull in activity between budget seasons. As we are in the middle of the budget season, anything can happen or not happen in the next few months!
by Braden Pontoli, AEC summer intern