WILKES-BARRE — In his budget proposal this week, Gov. Tom Wolf will reaffirm his commitment to increasing funding for public education at all levels.
Since the governor took office, Pennsylvania has made sustained investments in education, including restoring the cuts made under the previous administration, increasing the number of children able to attend pre-kindergarten by nearly 50 percent, and enacting a fair funding formula.
“As a business owner, I know that companies only want to locate and grow in a state that has strong schools and makes the commitment to ensuring our workforce has 21st century skills,” Wolf said in an emailed news release. “Building on the progress of the last three years, my budget will further invest in public education at all levels, from Pre-K to higher education.”
Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal for education will include:
• $100 million increase in basic education.
• $40 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
• $20 million increase for special education.
• $15 million increase for the State System of Higher Education.
• $10 million for career and technical education.
Since taking office, Wolf said he has made modernizing and improving Pennsylvania’s education system a priority. And he believes under his leadership, Pennsylvania has seen real results, including:
• Fully restoring the $1 billion education cut made in the previous administration that led to teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and program cuts.
• Enacting a fair funding formula that provides equitable, fair funding for all school districts.
• Increasing the number of children able to attend pre-kindergarten by nearly 50 percent.
• Increasing the high school graduation rate to 86.1 percent, placing Pennsylvania above the national average.
• Establishing standards for computer science education in all Pennsylvania schools, joining fewer than a dozen states to endorse such standards.
• Increasing the number of career and technical education (CTE) students earning industry-recognized credentials by 32.2 percent and increasing the number of credentials earned by students enrolled in CTE programs by 28.4 percent.
• Advancing Pennsylvania to third in the nation in the number of nationally recognized STEM ecosystems and making the commonwealth the fifth-largest producer of STEM graduates.
• Expanding enrollment in AP courses by 10 percent.
• Reducing the length of PSSA tests by 20 percent, condensing the exam time-frame from three weeks to two weeks and shifting it to later in the school year for students in grades three through eight.
Deadline is extended for
campus sex-assault grants
The deadline has been extended for schools to apply for grants to address sexual assault on campus, Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera announced this week.
The “It’s On Us PA” grant applications, which are available on the department’s website, are due by 11:59 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9.
Last year, 36 post-secondary institutions in Pennsylvania were awarded nearly $1 million in grants to address campus sexual assault. The grants of up to $30,000 each are awarded to post-secondary institutions across the state — including community colleges, and independent and public two-year and four-year colleges and universities — to implement strategies on their campuses to address goals of the campaign, which include:
• Improve awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems regarding sexual violence in schools, colleges and universities to better serve all students.
• Remove/reduce barriers that prevent survivors of sexual violence from reporting and/or accessing vital resources by creating a more consistent, empowering reporting process for student survivors of gender-based violence.
• Demonstrate significant, proactive, and sustainable leadership to change campus culture by challenging Pennsylvania’s education leaders — including college and university presidents — as well as students, teachers, faculty, staff, families, and communities.
Programs or activities considered for funding include campus-wide training for students, faculty and staff; institutional campaigns to raise awareness and understanding of the reporting process; programs that enhance awareness of available resources and students’ rights; and efforts to improve capacity to collect federal- or state-required data.
More than 500K Pa. vets
choose ID designation
The number of Pennsylvania veterans who have added a veterans designation to their driver’s license or ID card has topped more than half a million and has grown every day since the program began in 2014.
The designation — an American flag with the word “VETERAN” beneath it — is a patriotic way for veterans to show their pride and convey to others that they served in the United States military.
The veterans designation does not entitle a veteran to any special consideration or discount, but rather identifies the bearer as a veteran. Any other recognition, such as a discount, complementary meal or other token of appreciation is completely and solely determined by the organization, business or entity providing a service.
Qualified applicants for a veterans designation must have served in the United States Armed Forces and/or the reserve component, and have been discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
There is no fee for the veterans designation, however regular renewal or duplicate fees still apply. Forms for driver’s license or ID renewals and duplicates have a box for applicants to certify that they are a veteran, and to have the designation added. Once the veterans designation has been added to a driver’s license or identification card, it will automatically appear each time it is renewed.
Pa. is seeking sponsors
for summer meal program
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is encouraging organizations across the state to help provide nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through the department’s Summer Food Service Program.
Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said that during the summer of 2017, 306 organizations participated in the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,600 locations throughout the state. However, to reach more children and narrow the hunger gap that summer may bring, more organizations and meal sites are needed throughout the state, especially in rural areas, says Rivera.
The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. People over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also able to receive free meals at program sites.
Participating organizations are reimbursed for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.
More than 169 million meals were served to free and reduced-price eligible children in Pennsylvania during the 2016-17 school year under the National School Lunch Program. However, only 19 out of every 100 students receiving free and reduced-price meals during the school year accessed nutritious summer meals.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.