Education officials relieved a budget is in place

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HARRISBURG - Education officials statewide say they are breathing a collective sigh of relief after Governor Wolf said he would not veto the budget.

Education funding was one of the things that kept him from approving a budget for 267 days.

But the pain the schools endured during that time became too much to bear.

“This means that schools will stay open through the end of the year,” he said. “But unless Harrisburg changes its ways, they won't have adequate funds for next year.”

Hundreds of school districts that had to trim expenses or take out loans because they weren't getting state money will finally receive that funding.

The end of the impasse means relief for one local senator who gave loans to Thackston charter school in York to help it stay open.

“I would do it again, because it would have meant 520 students being dumped on the street and 75 to 80 teachers and staff not getting paid and having uncertainty,” Sen. Scott Wagner, (R) – York County, said.

School districts statewide will see $200 million in additional funding once the budget takes effect on Monday.

“Money that was desperately needed for school districts that are kind of on the precipice of looking at potentially closing is getting out to those school districts and they're going to be able to keep open their doors for the kids until the end of the year,” John Callahan, the assistant executive director for the Pennsylvania School Board Association said.

The group is already looking toward next year's budget, one where they would like to see a shift toward higher state but lower local revenues and solutions to trim pension and mandated expenses.

“If we're able to shift that balance to a broader range, that helps out significantly,” Callahan said. “It also helps stop the property tax increases that we're used to, but we also have to deal with the other side, the spending side.