The Lead

Saylor to schools: Offer in-person classes or forfeit state funding

By: - March 24, 2021 4:56 pm

House Appropriation Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York, speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in February 2021. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

The Pennsylvania House’s top budget-writing official announced Wednesday that the commonwealth’s schools must offer in-person education to receive state funding starting in July.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York, said he expected the in-person learning requirement would apply to school districts, technical schools, community colleges and public universities. 

If those schools do “not open their doors to full-time, in-person instruction,” Saylor said he would push for a budget rider to ensure that schools that do not reopen will not receive state funding

Saylor’s stated funding policy would start next fiscal year, or in July, a spokesperson clarified. State fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30. State education funding for this school year has already been distributed.

Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts received $13.3 billion from the state’s coffers this fiscal year. State budgetary aid accounts for roughly 37 percent of school districts budgets, according to a 2019 study by the Congressional Research Service.

School districts also are funded by local property taxes, and receive some funding directly from the federal government.

The state provides another billion dollars for higher education and technical schools.

Gov. Tom Wolf has allowed schools to exercise local control throughout the pandemic on how to offer classes. Districts have offered in-person learning, completely remote education, and everything in between as a result.

The Wolf administration has also prioritized vaccinating school employees and educators in recent weeks, giving them the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of March 23, the state has vaccinated more than 100,000 educators.

Mass clinics and mobile vaccine sites: How Pa. plans to vaccinate school employees against COVID-19

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter. You can reach him at 845-891-4306.

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