Indiana County area school districts will receive nearly $1.5 million more in basic education subsidies from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 2019-20 school year.
Much of the increase in basic funding comes in what’s called student-weighted distribution.
“It’s the part of the formula that accounts for factors such as a school district’s poverty rate, school size/number of students, students in charter schools, and English Language learners,” said PDE Press Secretary Eric Levis.
Among districts that straddle the Indiana County line Armstrong had the largest increase in student-weighted funding, $428.708.51 to $2,205,878 for 2019-20. Among those within the county line Indiana Area had the largest increase, $209,482.68 to $998,079 for 2019-20.
That’s added to the base subsidy, which was largely unchanged for each area district:
• The largest total subsidy for a district within Indiana County went to Indiana Area, at $9,789,378, or $208,482.71 more than 2018-19.
• Marion Center Area was close behind at $9,651,837, up $112,705.79 from 2018-19.
• Blairsville-Saltsburg, which also includes Blacklick, Burrell and Conemaugh townships in Indiana County and Loyalhanna Township in Westmoreland County, came in at $9,629,244, up $121,649.62 from last year.
• Purchase Line (Green and Montgomery townships and Glen Campbell in Indiana County; Bell Township and four boroughs in Clearfield County) came in at $9,013,145, up $83,094.18 from last year.
• United, in Armagh and four southeastern Indiana County townships, is getting $8,960,577, up $59,189.15 from last year.
• Penns Manor Area (Pine and Cherryhill townships and Clymer) gets $7,445,309, up $44,506.41 from last year.
The largest share of basic subsidy locally went to Armstrong School District, with just over $30.7 million, up from just under $30.3 million for 2018-19. Armstrong covers approximately two-thirds of Armstrong County, but also Smicksburg Borough and West Mahoning Township in Indiana County.
The next largest locally went to Punxsutawney Area School District, with over $15.67 million, up from $15.54 million in 2018-19. Punxsutawney Area covers the southern third of Jefferson County, plus Banks, Canoe and North Mahoning townships in the northern tier of Indiana County.
Also along the borders, Armstrong County’s Apollo-Ridge district (including Young Township, Indiana County) is getting $8,462,315, up $140,607.27 from last year, while Clearfield County’s Harmony Area district (including Cherry Tree, Indiana County) is getting $2,796,454, up $41,342.70 from last year.
There is other funding as well, from a variety of programs such as Pre-K Counts, Head Start and special education.
“This year’s budget provides an increase of $432 million for (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) education, $30 million of which will go toward Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program,” said state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana. “Another $160 million will go toward basic education funding in Pennsylvania’s public schools, and $50 million for special education.”
Struzzi said those programs helped provide an overall increase of $1,719,131 in state funding for public schools in his 62nd Legislative District, which includes all or part of Blairsville-Saltsburg, Homer-Center, Indiana Area, Marion Center Area, Penns Manor Area and United districts.
“The most important thing we can do to ensure a bright future is to prepare our children to make it so,” said Struzzi, a first-term legislator who said early childhood education is a priority.
“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I was very active in advocating for increased funding during committee meetings and during general budget discussions,” Struzzi said.