Budget impasse forces schools to hold off on programs

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Five-hundred schools across the state can remain open after the holiday thanks to emergency funding, but they still have to create their own budgets and it is hard to do that when they don’t know what kind of funding they will get from the state.

“They expect reports from us, they expect our budget on time, they expect us to have things in place but yet they do not follow the same rules,” said William R. Gretton, acting CFO Harrisburg School District. “Unfortunately that puts us in a precarious position where we need to be making assumptions that may be baseless and that is where we do not like to come from.”

Harrisburg School District has about 6,400 students. The State provides half of the district’s budget. The district was hoping to restore several student programs this year that were cut back in 2010.

“The Harrisburg school district does not have librarians. We reduced the number of social workers that support students and we reduced home and school visitors,” said Gretton.

Gretton says the proposed education funding in the republican approved budget will not allow the district to restore those programs. He is hoping the Governor’s plan, which includes a new funding formula based on need, will pass. Until they know for sure it is hard for them to plan ahead.

“We are in the process now of needing a 2016-17 budget in the next few weeks. We have no idea which direction to head. Certainly we are not going to include these programs that we had hoped to include with additional funding. We do not know where we’re headed other than just hoping that something is resolved and we get an indication in January or early February about where funding may be for the future,” said Gretton.

 

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