On Tuesday, Rose Tree Media School District educators and others opposed a proposal by Doug Mastriano to cut school funding in half.

MEDIA – Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey joined professionals and parents in the Rose Tree Media School District this week to speak out against the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s proposed education funding cuts , Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County.

Mastriano said in a radio interview in March that he would like to reduce per-student funding in the state from about $19,000 to $9,000 or $10,000 and give students more choice in their school setting, whether private, parochial, cyber or home schooling. .

But Askey said at an event outside the Media Elementary School on Tuesday that the PSEA had done the math on this proposal, which would result in a loss of public school funding of $12.75 billion. dollars, the elimination of approximately 118,000 teachers and support professionals, and student-teacher relationships. ratios up 109 percent.

“Can you even imagine what schools would look like with half the teachers, half the staff and half the opportunities for our students?” Askey said. “Shockingly, Senator Mastriano called for these devastating cuts without providing any detail to the students, families and communities who would be affected.”

A spokesperson for Mastriano could not be reached for comment, and his campaign website does not include the proposal in a section titled “The Plan,” although it promotes the elimination of property taxes that fund the public schools and says Mastriano would “fight like hell” for more school choice.

Mastriano, who faces Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Abington in the November general election, will also “immediately ban critical studies of race and gender theory in Pennsylvania schools,” and bar transgender students from use facilities or participate in sports that differ from their assigned genders.

Jeanette Verdeur, president of the Rose Tree Media Education Association and an elementary school music teacher, said the funding proposal was one her district could ill afford and would result in the elimination of many clubs and other extracurricular activities.

“We right here at Rose Tree Media would lose over $56 million in school funding under this plan, and that’s over half of our current budget,” she said. “This dollar amount would result in the loss of up to 465 teachers, counsellors, bus drivers and support staff.”

Ben Danson, an advanced placement history teacher and government teacher at Penn Crest High School, said such a large reduction would double his class size and make one-to-one instruction nearly impossible, not to mention the writing of recommendation letters for students as it currently does.

“I have 24 desks in my class, which means I have to focus on up to 24 students each class period,” Danson said. “My class no longer has room for desks. Even more troubling, if my class sizes explode to cope with the loss of teachers under this radical proposal, how could I provide individualized attention to my students? »

Danson said exploding class sizes would not only make teaching more difficult, but would make the profession itself less attractive at a time when Pennsylvania already faces a critical shortage of teachers.

“It would exponentially worsen an already serious problem,” he said.

Rich Scala, a bus driver for more than 10 years and vice president of the Rose Tree Media Education Support Professionals Association, said the proposal would hurt more than 200 paraprofessionals, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, wardens and district secretaries. . Parents would also see students having to get up earlier for longer bus journeys and may have to drop them off at school themselves.

“Bus drivers are the first face students see in the morning and the last face they see at the end of the day,” Scala said. “Our parents are counting on us. Many schools beyond the Rose Tree Media School District also rely on us. We transport students to all kinds of private parochial and special education schools within and beyond the boundaries of our school district. How would these funding cuts impact our ability to maintain security? »

Kurt Jackson, a longtime resident with two adult children who passed through the district, said he was deeply concerned about the proposal and whether teachers would have the time or ability to provide prospective students with the kind of encouragement that his children received.

Askey said the PSEA had done a detailed analysis of what Commonwealth school districts would look like operating on half their per-student funding and found that more than half of the state’s 500 districts would see revenue cuts. 35% or more.

These results, along with the methodology to achieve them and other information, have been transformed into an interactive state map available at www.psea/mastrianocuts.

Askey encouraged parents to visit the site to determine how their own districts might be affected and paraphrased Maya Angelou in urging parents to keep this information in mind at the polls in November.

“Senator Doug Mastriano called for a $12.75 billion cut to our schools,” he said. “And, you know, he can deny it. He may be trying to be a typical politician and talk twice, but you can hear his words and now you know the impact. Senator Doug Mastriano told you who he was. Please, for the sake of our students, believe it.

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Donnie J. Milburn