Many people in the 155th District are unaware that Coatesville Area School District affects residents in the 155th. If you live in West Brandywine Township (part of the 155th PA House District) you are painfully aware of how lack of funding to public schools impacts residents year after year. This year, residents are facing an 8.4% property tax increase in order to fund a school system that is suffering from a lack of economic development to boost the tax base, a troubled history of administrative impropriety, and charter schools that are siphoning funds and resources away from the core school system. Couple this with Harrisburg’s recent history since Governor Corbett to fall short on funding public schools and teachers pensions and we have a crisis situation here folks.
I was at the bank just last week and one of the women that I was talking to mentioned that when she worked at a branch in West Brandywine, it was heartbreaking because seniors were coming in to take out home equity loans just to pay their property taxes.
This is criminal. We should not be putting our local school boards in the position to choose between our youngest residents and our eldest residents. Representative, Becky Corbin recently responded publicly to this problem, suggesting that it is on the School Board “to think outside the box and work toward a better solution.”
Local West Brandywine Township Resident, Mom and Public Education Advocate, Beth Brindle responded. I think we all need to hear and understand Beth’s words and make tough decisions about who we are putting in the seat that serves our families’ future, both our children’s education and our parents and grandparents financial security.
– While the state’s level of funding for public education has increased from its low point under Governor Corbett in 2011-2012, funding levels have never recovered. They are still LOWER than they were in 2008-2009, ’09-’10, and ’10-’11. (Source: House appropriations committee)
– Fully 70 percent of school districts in Pennsylvania had to raise property taxes last year, and at least as many districts expect to do the same for next year. (Source: PASBO/PASA)
– Pennsylvania ranks the worst – that’s 50th out of 50 states – in equitably funding its public schools, meaning that our commonwealth has the largest discrepancy between the best-funded and least-funded schools. Fellow voters, if you haven’t heard of the PA school funding lawsuit, please Google it.
– Representative Corbin has been in office since 2013 but has not introduced or supported legislation that would accelerate or fully fund the adoption of a Fair Funding Formula, which Pennsylvania desperately needs to fix the inequitable funding referenced above.
– Pennsylvania provides only 34% of public school funding at the state level. The national average is around 50%. This means that PA residents bear the brunt of school funding at the local level, i.e., property taxes. Representative Corbin has taken no steps to remedy this situation.
– Representative Corbin’s statement suggesting that Coatesville “talk to other districts around the commonwealth” and think outside the box is condescending and shows both a disrespect and disregard for her constituents in Coatesville and a lack of knowledge of the efforts the CASD has put toward both cutting costs and improving the educational offerings of the district.
PA State Rep. Becky Corbin, since 2010, our Charter Tuition, Special Ed, and Pension costs — all state-mandated costs over which we have little to no control — have increased by $31.6 million. Our district-managed costs, on the other hand, have been *cut* by $7.2 million over the same time period. Tell me again: Which one of us needs to “think outside the box and work toward a better solution”?
What should we cut first? Our preschool? Our STEM classes? Our teacher positions? Are CASD students less deserving of these programs because their parents are less wealthy than those in surrounding districts? Are CASD students who remain in the public schools less deserving of these programs than those who choose charters? Is it OK with you that our students are the ones to suffer for our legislature’s deeply flawed charter school funding formula?
Your attempts to take credit for an “increase” to education and to deflect all responsibility for our district’s budget shortfall reflect a lack of leadership and a sheer disdain for your constituents. Why, when faced with the news of this proposed increase, would you not reach out to the district or to your constituents in West Brandywine Township to see how you might help? Why would you not want to work *together* with the district to solve the problem?
Yes, the CASD is facing the prospect of a higher-than-average property tax increase. The CASD also has a unique set of issues that wealthier districts and districts with more robust business revenues do not face. Your role as an elected representative is to help us find solutions to our problems, not to further divide us as you pass the buck. Please do your job and work with your colleagues in the PA House and Senate to fund public education.
We are headed into Pennsylvania’s annual budget season. Will your representative fight for your community? Your power is in your vote.