State lawmakers discuss Erie School District’s financial crisis

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State lawmakers discuss Erie School District-s financial cri_53937399-159532

State lawmakers from Erie County met one-on-one with the Erie School District trying to identify possible solutions to the district’s financial crisis.

Cameras were not allowed in, but Action News was able speak with legislators afterward.

Every Erie County legislator was either at the meeting or represented Thursday at the Washington Educational Center, 148 W. 21st St.

It was not official, but more of a work session to share ideas and talk openly about the Erie School District’s financial issue.

The theme for Thursday’s roundtable discussion: Proper funding for school districts is not just an Erie problem, but a Pennsylvania problem.

The group Thursday shared ideas on how to repair Erie’s schools.

Rep. Flo Fabrizio is set to introduce legislation allocating $5 million for the district to offset a $4.3 million budget shortfall.

Also on the table was Sen. Sean Wiley’s two bills, with one addressing cyber charter school issues.

Rep. Pat Harkins said the meeting was productive and the discussion was meaningful.

The group addressed funding streams and alternative ways to fund Pennsylvania’s schools.      

Also in attendance Thursday were numerous superintendents from area school districts who offered support and shared their input for Erie’s Public Schools.  

The group does plan to meet and continue the dialogue again in the coming weeks. 

Bill information from Thursday’s interview with Sen. Sean Wiley:

Bill 1304 amends the school code to provide an emergency supplemental payment for basic education subsidies to eligible school districts. 

Eligibility criteria is based upon average daily membership, average cost spent per pupil and other multipliers, which translates into about 13 school districts across Pennsylvania. 

Those districts will be allocated a portion of a $150 million appropriation based upon the formula as a one-time emergency supplement. 

Bill 1308 amends the school code to establish a competitive bidding process for cyber-charter providers based upon region.

Providers will bid to be awarded a primary regional cyber charter provider designation and then students within that geographic area will be provided cyber curriculum by said provider.

This proposal is based on free market principles and maintains choice as students are provided an opportunity other than traditional public education. In-house cyber programs found within many public schools are not impacted by this proposal, but can bid to be the primary regional cyber-charter provider should they meet the criteria.

Should a student wish to attend a cyber program outside of the in-house school district program or the primary regional cyber-charter provider, they may do so at their own cost.

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