Proposed State Budget for 2017-18
In February, Governor Wolf unveiled his proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Overall the budget calls for $1 billion in new tax revenues, including a natural gas severance tax of 6.5%, and $2 billion in efficiency savings. These savings come from a number of measures including the consolidation of four state agencies: Human Services; Health; Aging; and Drug and Alcohol. In addition, the Governor is centralizing all executive branch human resource and information technology functions. The budget also includes the closure of one state prison and two state hospitals, and the official elimination of thousands of unfilled state jobs.
The proposal includes some increases and decreases for education. It calls for a 1.7% increase to basic education funding, and a 2.3% increase to special education funding. If this budget would pass, Fleetwood would see an increase of 1.7% for basic education funding and 3.6% for special education funding. However, the budget proposes a 9.1% decrease in the overall state reimbursement for transportation. These funds are distributed to school districts through a state established formula; school districts have not received any specific information as to the amount of money that would be lost from this reduction. It is estimated that the decrease in transportation funds would more than offset the increase in state funds for our school district.
The proposed budget includes a significant increase in funds for early childhood education. The Governor’s goal is to enroll an additional 8,400 children through pre-kindergarten programs and Head Start. Pre-K Counts (a specific pre-kindergarten program) would receive a 44.1% increase in funds ($65 million increase), and Head Start would receive a 20.3% increase ($10 million increase). Services for young children with special needs (ages 3-5) is also slated to receive a 4.6% increase ($11.7 million).
The impact of state mandates continues to be a significant factor in both the state and local school district budgets. The school employees’ retirement system is slated to receive an 11.6% increase ($240 million) in state funds. The increase in the employer share of the state retirement system equates to roughly a $560,000 increase next year for the Fleetwood Area School District. As noted above, the Governor proposed an increase to support special education programs which for Fleetwood would increase our special education subsidy by 3.6%. This however, does not nearly cover the roughly 5.2% in increased special education costs that we are projecting for next year.
As we work on the school district’s budget, we are not counting on the increases proposed by the Governor. Recent reports out of the House Education Committee indicate that the proposed increase in education funding is unlikely to be enacted due to the state budget deficit. The Board of School Directors will work on the district’s preliminary budget in April and May, with final budget approval in June. The district will post budget information on the district website as it is reviewed by the Board.
Upcoming Events in the Fleetwood Area School District
- April 12, 13, 14, 17 – Spring Break, Schools Closed
- April 28, 29, 30 – Middle School Play High School Musical, Jr., MS Auditorium
- The Board of School Directors will hold meetings on April 4th and 18th, both at 7:00 p.m. in the high school board room.