by Kathryn Bock
SC Staff Writer
Last week, Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania, proposed the budget for the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year, which is predicted to help PA distribute money to school districts.
Corbett’s plan attempts to avoid cutting basic education and will keep school district funding at the same level as last year. With the intent to keep funding at the same level, Corbett has discussed some changes.
Instead of obtaining money through various line items, districts will now get almost all of their state tax dollars through a block grant program. The Student Achievement Education Block Grant combines education funding, student transportation, and school Social Security payments into one single budget program.
Corbett’s budget plan is said to cut Higher Education spending by about $240 million as stated by the Upper Saucon Patch.
The proposal will reduce funding for Penn State University, Pittsburgh University, and Temple University by 30 percent. Lincoln University is flat-funded in the new budget plan. These four universities are funded through private support.
As for the 14 state colleges included in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), they will receive a 20 percent budget cut.
Many Universities such as West Chester University are organizing ways for their voices to be heard. Many students, along with the faculty, are not happy with the budget cuts.
East Stroudsburg University is just one of several schools being subjected to the changes proposed by Governor Corbett. What does this budget cut mean for the students here at ESU?
Alone, the cost of higher education will increase—something that many students are not pleased about.
“You have kids that will often times be distracted because they have a responsibility to work and earn money as they are pursuing an education,” said Head Department Chair of Special Education, Dr. Scala. “To do both, full time starts to become conflicting and impacts one way or the other, either work performance is impacted or studies are impacted.”
There are several other aspects that will be affecting both ESU students and students all over PA due to the budget cuts.
Dr. Scala also discussed how health and wellness comes into play when students are balancing school and work in order to keep up with this budget.
“Staying healthy, sleeping well and eating right are impacted as [students] try to balance two very difficult positions: work and school,” said Dr. Scala.
Class sizes are also becoming a concern when discussing budget cuts. As of recently, ESU students have been enrolled in classes with 100+ students. This takes away from the teacher–student relationship that ESU was once known for.
The students majoring in education are affected in the sense that they need time to do a lot of hands on activities in the classroom. They learn not always through quizzes and tests but rather engaging in activities that they can use to become better teachers.
“We’ve seen class sizes rise to numbers that aren’t conducive to good learning especially in the higher level courses,” said Dr. Scala. “Smaller student-teacher ratio is much more beneficial in order to support the modeling that is done in the classroom in order for students to learn to do the various components to be good teachers.”
The 20 percent budget cuts for the 14 PASSHE schools, proposed by Governor Corbett, are affecting students all over Pennsylvania. East Stroudsburg University is a public school that will not be exempt from this.