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Brewster, Gergely Call on Republicans to Honor Duquesne School Agreement
On June 20, 2011
HARRISBURG – June 20 – As Republican lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett continue to adjust the state’s final spending plan behind closed doors, state Sen. Jim Brewster and state Rep. Marc Gergely are pressing that funding for the Duquesne City School District be included in the budget.
The state budget that passed the state House in May slashed funding for Duquesne by 36 percent and eliminated the special $2 million payment that was part of a legislative agreement to keep the school open.
“For too long, the school children and parents in the Duquesne City School District have been left to twist in the wind as they await their fiscal fate,” Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said. “This has become a tremendous strain and has needlessly created anxiety.”
Gergely (D-Allegheny) added, “Republican budget negotiators must meet the needs of Duquesne and provide answers to the students and parents about the future of the school.”
Several years ago, lawmakers crafted a relief plan that closed Duquesne High School in 2007, but retained the district’s elementary and middle school programs. The high school students were disbursed to East Allegheny and West Mifflin School Districts.
The state House passed a Republican budget that would cut $3 million in funding for Duquesne (from $9.86 million to $6.28 million).
“The closing of the high school and the integration of the students into the education programs at East Allegheny and West Mifflin was agreed to as a means to relieve fiscal pressure,” Gergely said.
The district pays $2.6 million in tuition to cover the cost of educating the senior high students. The district is considering laying off 35 of its remaining 94 teachers in an effort to provide a bare-bones education.
“The teacher layoffs combined with a pay freeze, the elimination of sports and extracurricular activities that has been suggested as a way to deal with the deficit doesn’t solve the fiscal problems,” Brewster said. “While we discuss these draconian actions, the state is sitting on a $500 million state revenue surplus that can be used to replenish funds for Duquesne.”
Gergely added, “Duquesne students should not be a pawn in the budget games that Republicans are playing – when there is $500 million plus in revenues that are available.”
Both Brewster and Gergely said they are hopeful they can fashion a long term solution for Duquesne and provide some guidance for the district’s children in future years.
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