School districts in York County will get, on average, an additional $500,000 to $1 million in education funding compared to the past school year, according to a new round of proposed budget figures released by Rep. Stan Saylor.
That hike is after Gov. Tom Corbett proposed flat-funding basic education and not funding a key Accountability Block Grant.
Does that mean more teachers will be hired, programs will get restored or budgets will be re-opened to lower taxes?
Saylor, R-Windsor Twp., said that's the point and why he and other Republican leadership pushed to increase education dollars. The education funding proposal he released is a result of that push.
"We wanted to get more funding into the school districts this year," Saylor said. Districts "would all like more money. Well, they didn't lose any money."
Leadership in the House and Senate and Corbett's office are all on board with the proposal, with Saturday looming as the budget deadline. Saylor said Corbett should be credited with being willing to realize Pennsylvania's revenue situation is better than when he proposed his budget in February and that he should pour that money into schools. "A lot of people were very critical of him, and I understand that. The budget outlook was pretty bad-looking," Saylor said.
Really a boost? Business managers are much more skeptical about what the extra money can do.
While details of the budget figures are still unclear, several York County school district business managers said it appears most of the increase is coming from the state contributing more toward pension costs.
But that money doesn't directly help districts, since the contributions only funnel through the districts right back into the pension fund, business managers said. Dallastown business manager Donna Devlin said that after taking out the pension contribution increase, Dallastown's $1 million funding increase compared to last year likely is more like a couple hundred thousand dollars.
State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, agreed. Basic education funding, what most districts rely on, didn't get touched for most districts.
"The actual dollars going to the classroom is the exact same," he said.
What can help is more money for classroom-related expenses, and there is some help there. Lawmakers put $100 million for Accountability Block Grant funding, the same as this past year, back into the budget after Corbett's version removed it. The grant is used for full-day kindergarten and related early childhood expenses.
It may be enough in the York City School District's case to help restore full-day kindergarten, said Superintendent Deborah Wortham. The board just approved a budget last week that cut it back to half-day.
The board is holding a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the administration building to discuss reopening the budget, she said.
"My first goal is to restore full-day kindergarten, and then to adjust class sizes," Wortham said. "It's absolutely great news."
York City stands to get $7 million more from the state than in the past year, although Wortham, like other school officials, said it's not clear yet just how that money breaks down, which matters a lot in terms of how they can use it.
School and state officials said they weren't certain yet whether about $50 million lawmakers added for financially distressed schools would be immediately available or held until the state figures out whether it will take over York City and three other distressed school districts.
Other areas: It is clear special-education funding will again remain flat, which drew criticism from school officials because special education costs constantly are increasing.
And the expected increase in state funding only will have a major impact on school budgets that assumed Corbett's budget would remain intact.
At Red Lion, business manager Terry Robinson said he expected a small increase over what Corbett said, so Red Lion's budget won't be far off if the latest funding levels are approved.
And all it takes is a few more cyber school students or a few special-education students with extreme needs moving into the district, and the extra money is gone.
"One or two or three of those will eat that up," Robinson said.
Still, there was some optimism from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. President Jay Himes said the increase wasn't dramatic, but it should help districts in some way.
He said PASBO was particularly pleased Accountability Block Grants were restored.
The figures:The office of House Majority Whip Stan Saylor released the latest proposed figures for education funding totals for York County school districts. Saylor said the House, Senate and governor's office have all agreed on the numbers, with the budget due Saturday.
The totals below include all aspects of education funding, and are compared to the 2011-12 totals:
* Central York School District - $11,653,323, an increase of $992,917
* Dallastown Area School District - $14,478,837, an increase of $1,318,241
* Dover Area School District - $14,279,702, an increase of $566,098
* Eastern York School District - $10,307,209, an increase of $517,127
* Hanover Public School District - $3,513,952, an increase of $189,773
* Northeastern York School District - $14,762,123, an increase of $884,225
* Northern York County School District - $10,182,081, an increase of $497,664
* Red Lion Area School District - $20,582,935, an increase of $1,016,963
* South Eastern School District - $12,265,602, an increase of $629,613
* South Western School District - $13,343,076, an increase of $778,437
* Southern York County School District - $10,606,740, an increase of $660,712
* Spring Grove Area School District - $14,818,890, an increase of $715,448
* West Shore School District - $19,473,921, an increase of $1,482,206
* West York Area School District - $8,069,070, an increase of $587,219
* York City School District - $59,762,258, an increase of $7,033,353
* York Suburban School District - $4,772,663, an increase of $674,405.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org