Local school districts struggling after loss of Level Up funds could benefit from Shapiro’s budget

The pictures paint a grim story: water filling classrooms when it rains, buckets trying to hold the leaks as the Sto-Rox School buildings are in desperate need.

“Two weeks ago, when superintendents did a two-hour delay, I had to cancel here because I couldn’t get one of my buildings warm enough to have kids in the building. Think about that, that was my reality,” said Megan Van Fossan, the Sto-Rox School District Superintendent.

The district needs $14 million to purchase new roofs and upgrade basic facilities, but that money seems to be in limbo. With no change in the fair funding formula a year later and the loss of $100 million in Level Up Funding, underfunded districts like Sto-Rox are wondering when they will ever see the money.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Some area districts already seeing impact to budget as they await release of Level Up funds

“When your local taxes are down, when your local economy is down, you have to get creative and say ‘something has to go.’ You are talking about important programs that keep students in school and coming to school,” said Dr. Daniel Castagna, the Woodland Hills School District Superintendent.

He’s talking about programs like mental health support and anti-violence groups.

“Bridging that gap between our school and community keeping those lines of communication open,” Castagna said.

In Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal, he hopes to fix those issues with $872 million going to these underfunded schools. But is that enough to help these districts recover? Or will it be another year of a budget fight only to have the money never show up?

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Gov. Shapiro seeks billions for schools, development in budget; proposes legalization of marijuana

“Frustrating, it’s sad, it’s every day I rob Peter to pay Paul and trying to determine my most important need,” Van Fossan said.

Ultimately the governor’s budget is just a proposal. It will need approval to pass both the House and Senate before any money would be distributed.

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