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Bucks Co, PA: "More children needing special services"; additional $236.5M for SPED

June 4, 2023, 'Crisis in education' requires more PA state funding, Bucks County school advocates say

Schools are facing a funding and personnel crisis. Pennsylvania needs to step up and do more to insure each child receives the same access to a quality education, and that already overburdened communities can receive some relief from ever-rising education costs.

A group of Bucks County school superintendents and other officials wanted to make that message known Thursday as they are asking Gov. Josh Shapiro and the state legislature to provide $1.236 billion from the state's $12 billion surplus to increase funding for education in the 2023-24 budget now being devised. The announcement was made during a press conference at William Tennent High School in Warminster organized by the advocacy coalition Children First.

In his budget proposal, Shapiro wants to increase basic education funding for kindergarten through 12th grade schools by $567.37 million. But Children First is asking for $700 million, and another $300 million for the 100 lowest wealth districts, as well as an additional $236.5 million for special education, said Priyanka Reyes-Kaura, the group's policy director for K-12 education….

Why have education costs gone up for Bucks County schools?

The superintendents said a combination of factors including more children needing special services and fewer teachers, counselors, aides and bus drivers available since the pandemic started, are affecting educational programs in schools and have raised staffing costs.

Coupled with inflation increasing the price of educational supplies and building materials, these expenses have left districts searching for new ways to fund their budgets without property tax increases each year….

"We're facing a crisis in education," Munroe said a constituent who visited his office told him recently.

The man specifically wanted to know what efforts were being taken to boost educational and good nutritional development starting in pre-kindergarten, so that children would have a good start in school, both academically and physically….

While the New Hope-Solebury School District is located in one of Bucks County wealthiest communities, it has seen its costs "deeply exasperated by the pandemic, said Superintendent Charles Lentz, including a rise in special education needs which account for one-eighth of its $48.3 million in expected expenditures for the 2023-24 school year….


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