At JES tonight: Panel talks public school funding

Category:  BloggERy
Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 4:51 AM
At JES tonight: Panel talks public school funding by Ryan Smith

When it comes to the politics behind creating more adequate and equitable funding for the region’s public schools and the kids they teach, well, there shouldn’t be any politics.

What there should be, though, is open, honest discussion - the kind that can continue leading to real, positive action.

That’s a kind of talk worth listening to, and worth asking questions of. And some of it’s coming up tonight in Erie.

This evening (May 28), regional school district leaders will sit down together for a public chat about matters related to school funding - or, in some cases, the lack thereof - during a public forum at Erie’s Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State St.

Representatives from 17 school districts in the region - along with those districts’ students, those students’ parents, and everyone else who’s interested in the topic - have been invited to attend the forum, set to feature a panel discussion with leaders from area districts including Conneaut, Corry, Fort LeBoeuf, Harborcreek, Millcreek, and Wattsburg.

Organizers say together, that group - comprised of some school superintendents, a few board presidents, and a director of finance - will talk, among related matters, about how state educational funding issues impact area communities and local children’s learning opportunities.

The panel’s keynote speaker is Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. As part of his executive-directing duties, Himes leads the organization’s legislative efforts, according to organizers, and he’s testified twice in the past year before the state Basic Education Funding Commission in Harrisburg.

“We cannot continue the failed strategy of cutting our way to success,” Himes said to the General Assembly in a joint statement issued by several advocacy groups earlier this year in support of Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2015-2016 state education budget proposal. “Schools need additional state resources to address the rising cost of mandated pensions, special education and charter school tuitions,” Himes said, and “PASBO is extremely pleased that [Wolf’s] budget provides additional funding to help prevent more cuts in programs and personnel.”

Organizers encourage everyone who’s interested in the topic to attend the forum, where members of the audience will also have opportunities to ask questions about state funding-related matters.

The forum, which runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will be moderated by Dr. Pam Lenz, current circuit rider for the state Campaign for Fair Education Funding and a former administrator for Erie County’s Northwestern and Iroquois school districts.

Along with CFEF, the event is sponsored by Education Voters PA. For more information, visit fairfunding@pa.org.

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