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$100M for Pa.’s poorest schools redirected

Plus: DuBois fire chief criticizes new City Council on transparency

This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

January 11, 2024
Inside this edition: Pennsylvania’s poorest schools lose out on $100 million in extra funding, transparency concerns in DuBois, and a book club for nature enthusiasts.

Real quick: Pennsylvania’s poorest school districts — roughly half of which are in rural counties — were slated for a funding boost. But lawmakers directed state money to school construction projects instead, Spotlight PA’s Marley Parish reports.

A little more: Pennsylvania’s poorest districts won’t receive $100 million in new money to help fill vacancies and reduce funding deficits after lawmakers diverted those dollars to school construction projects.

Roughly half of the 100 “Level Up” schools serve students in rural counties where populations are shrinking, and taxpayers bear the brunt of rising costs.

After initially agreeing to send hundreds of millions in additional funding to the state’s 100 poorest school districts, state lawmakers decided to reroute that money to fund school construction projects as a compromise when Democrats and Republicans were finalizing the remaining parts of the budget in December.

The decision came after a monthslong budget impasse, partially stemming from the parties’ disagreement over private school vouchers, and about a year after a state Commonwealth Court judge declared Pennsylvania’s current public school funding system unconstitutional. Lawmakers and the governor at that time were ordered to develop a new way to pay for education across the state’s 500 public school districts.

These “Level Up” districts will still receive their share of $225 million earmarked for those in need, but education advocates and participants in a school funding lawsuit were hoping for new dollars to support poor schools.

The full story: Read more here.


“My inclination is financial pressure that may force a member to vote one way or another is probably not a good thing.” 

—State Rep. Perry Warren (D., Bucks) on whether lawmakers forgoing pay during a budget impasse should be official policy or personal choice
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» Pennsylvania provides state money for public defense for the first time

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» School funding, permitting at top of Pa. legislature’s 2024 agenda
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You can find meeting notes at centredocumenters.org. Centre Documenters is also launching a texting service, allowing you to receive key takeaways and a link to meeting notes for a particular municipality or type of meeting. 

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Shoveling snow in Clearfield County via Don H. 

Have a north-central Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Shoveling snow in Clearfield County
» NCPA: Commuter air service returning to Williamsport Regional Airport
» SC: Plan aims to attract, retain business in downtown State College

» CDT: A look at municipal budgets across the Centre Region
» Courier Express: Fire chief questions DuBois City Council on budget
» Mirror: Blair hazardous mitigation panel aims to identify safety issues 
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» Jan. 11: The Pine Creek Nature Book Club meets on the second Thursday of the month at the Jersey Shore Public Library in Lycoming County.

» Jan. 13: Mountain City Beer & Wine Festival takes over the Jaffa Shrine Center in Blair County.

» Jan. 14: Join Centred Outdoors for forest bathing at Rhoneymeade in Centre County.

» Jan. 16: Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien speaks at Penn State in Centre County.

» Jan. 17: Penn State’s Paul Robeson Cultural Center hosts the Peace March to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 
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