Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sen. Rafferty: Hard times ahead

The Owen J. Roberts School Board in suburban Chester County invited state Sen. John Rafferty to a recent meeting to learn more about prospects for additional state funding for education.

Rafferty, a Republican who represents the 44th Senate district in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, offered a sobering assessment of future funding from Harrisburg, warning board members to prepare for rough times ahead.

"It's going to be a tough year," Rafferty cautioned the board, according to an article in The Pottstown Mercury.

In other words, school districts shouldn't be looking to the state for bailouts.

He warned that Pennsylvania's projected budget deficit of $2.3 billion could be even worse than anticipated at $2.6 billion, and rise next year to as much as $5 billion.

He noted that as much as 83 percent of the state's 2009-10 budget is devoted to three key areas: education from pre-kindergarten to college, Medicaid and the Department of Corrections.

Rafferty also said Gov. Rendell's proposal to consolidate the state's 500 school districts is something that won't happen for years, if at all.

"I don't think it's going to happen any time quickly and I don't think it's going to happen here," Rafferty said, adding that smaller districts in western Pennsylvania would most likely benefit from consolidation.

Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

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