EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

    Governor Rendell's Proposed 2007-2008 State Budget

    Gov. Ed Rendell delivered his 2007-2008 State Budget proposal to a Joint Session of the General Assembly earlier today. The $27.3 billion state spending plan increases basic education funding by 3.5% ($166.7 million) to $4.951 billion, special education funding by 3.0% ($29.4 million) to $1.010 billion, and Career and Technical Education funding by 3.0% ($1.834 million) to $62.961 million.

    Within the basic education appropriation, $58 million is earmarked for Foundation Funding - designed to help 169 school districts that currently spend less than $9,337 per pupil move toward that target funding level. The Foundation supplement was introduced two years ago with target per pupil funding set at $8,500; that figure has been adjusted for inflation in each of the following years. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education currently is overseeing a statewide education costing-out study that may be used to eventually establish a research-based foundation level.

    The budget also increases funding for Accountability Block Grants by $100 million (up to $350 million) and targets $75 million of the new funds to expand pre-K programs and $25 million of the new funds to expand full-day kindergarten programs. Other current programs marked for funding boosts include: Science: It's Elementary, which enhances elementary level science curriculum, would receive an additional $5 million (to $15 million); Classrooms for the Future would provide 250 more high schools with laptop computers in core academic classrooms with $70 million in new program funding (to $90 million); the Project 720 high school reform program would increase by $3 million (to $11 million) to expand to as many as 30 more schools; Dual Enrollment, which allows high school students to take credit-bearing college level courses, would increase by $2 million (to $10 million); and 500 more teachers could earn National Board Certification with a $1.2 million investment in this professional development program.

    A new Child Wellness initiative would invest $6.5 million to increase the state's reimbursement for school lunch and breakfast programs and create a financial incentive for districts to meet the state's nutritional standards. Rendell also wants to significantly expand school breakfast programs to all schools where at least 20 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Additionally, the Governor proposed $1 million for the new Common Cents program which would provide voluntary expert advice to school district consortiums about developing shared services and programs.

    For higher education, Rendell proposed $2 million to establish two new Technical College Programs to provide underserved areas of the Commonwealth with certificate and associate degree-granting programs for high-skill technical occupations. The Governor envisions creating up to 10 such programs in coming years. Community Colleges would receive a $6.680 (3%) increase for operating costs under the proposed budget, plus an additional $2.5 million increase for capital expenses. A 3.5% increase is proposed for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and a 2% increase is proposed for state-related universities.

    To read the Governor's Budget Address, see www.governor.state.pa.us/governor/cwp/view.asp?a=1101&q=451342.

    For more information about the proposed 2007-08 education budget, including a copy of the budget and informational materials from PDE, see EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse_2007-2008budget.html.

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