The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 5, 2013

Area school officials skeptical of Corbett's proposal

JOHNSTOWN — Although local school officials would welcome an increase in education funding, many were concerned about Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to tie the money to the sale of liquor licenses for supermarkets.

“My reaction is that education should not be tied to gambling or privatizing the liquor stores,” said Kamal Gella, a Westmont Hilltop school board member.

“Education should be its own budget item, and the state should invest in the future of our children. We can’t go along with changing the budget line item every year or two.”

Gella is on the Westmont board’s legislative and finance committees.

Windber Area Superintendent Rick Huffman stressed that the state must commit to funding education for future graduates to help keep the nation competitive in a world economy

“We are at a crossroads in education,” Huffman said. “If we continue to expect proficiency; if we continue to expect school districts to meet the highest standards, we have to provide funding.

“We are at a place now where we are not supporting our future.”

Richland’s school board president was not ready to condemn the proposed budget, but he acknowledged “something is always tied to something.”

Board President Michael Bodolosky was still waiting for an analysis of the proposed budget from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, but he said he hopes the state can come up with a sustained funding stream.

“It needs to be a permanent fix, not a quick fix,” Bodolosky said.

The PSBA’s analysis and any comment by the association is expected today, a spokesman said.

Bodolosky welcomed a report that funding for the arts would be maintained at its current level. He serves as executive director at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.

“I think it’s great because they whacked it last year,” Bodolosky said. “As long as we don’t go backward, I think we will be OK.”

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