The July 25 LNP | LancasterOnline article, “CDC says kids need to be in school,” illustrated how difficult a job local school districts have ahead of them as they finalize reopening plans for the fall, both here in Lancaster County and across the state.
On top of the logistical challenges presented by COVID-19 and changing state and federal guidelines aimed at keeping students safe, districts are also dealing with revenue shortfalls that are forcing them to put important projects on hold, enact pay freezes, leave open positions unfulfilled, cut technology and curriculum budgets, and furlough teachers and staff, among other cuts. With reopening comes unexpected costs for the 2020-21 school year.
Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a budget that protects schools from state funding cuts, but that will not address the local funding shortfall. That’s why Congress needs to step up and do its part, while our schools work to rise to the challenge. Congress needs to provide additional money to local schools in order to help districts deal with lost tax revenue and increased costs in an effort to improve outcomes for students. These are difficult and uncertain times. Especially now, it is critical that we support public school students.
Congress has the power to provide a little more certainty to school districts for next school year by allocating more federal dollars to local districts. The U.S. Senate should follow the lead of the U.S. House by passing another round of COVID-19 relief funding that includes needed aid for state and local governments and public schools.