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For Immediate Release
3/22/11



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Senator Piccola Written Remarks

Education Chairs & Senators Unveil Mandate Relief Package

Pledging to Relieve School Districts of Financial Burdens

HARRISBURG Recognizing the budgetary constraints and challenges facing Pennsylvania's school districts, Senator Jeff Piccola (R-15), Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and members of the Senate Republican Caucus unveiled today a comprehensive legislative package intended to relieve schools of costly state mandates.  Also joining Piccola for this announcement was Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19), Democratic Chairman of the Education Committee.     

The 2011-2012 spending plan proposed by Governor Corbett requires substantial reductions to the state education budget to address a $4 billion deficit.  In an effort to provide the Commonwealth's schools with flexibility to balance their budgets and reduce costs, members have introduced a package of 18 bills designed to relieve what lawmakers call 'onerous' mandates outlined in the Pennsylvania School Code.

Some of the measures being proposed include enabling districts to order teacher furloughs in the name of economic necessity; allowing districts to forgo filing non-essential reports not involving budget, financial, or safety information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in years when state education aid declines; and increasing the monetary threshold for bidding on contracts.

During a press conference with their colleagues in the Senate, Piccola and Dinniman emphasized that relieving school districts of expensive mandates and giving them the flexibility to meet the educational needs of children is the intent of their legislation.

"Our goal is to reduce the numerous restrictions and directives currently hamstringing school districts so that learning environments can be improved for all students.  Together, we believe that by eliminating these bureaucratic hoops for school districts teachers can focus on teaching and administrators can have greater control in leading their schools, and ultimately a quality educational opportunity for our kids can be provided at a reasonable cost," said Piccola.

"It is imperative that we take steps to reduce the amount of onerous, outdated and unnecessary restrictions that bog down our school districts and take the focus away from learning. Many of these mandates are decades-old and don't have anything to do with education," Dinniman said.  "These efforts are a step in the right direction to eliminate red tape, reduce costs and allow schools to concentrate on their most important task preparing students for the future."

Bills in the legislative package specifically authored by Piccola would ease requirements for hiring school nurses by allowing districts to hire a registered nurse with in-service training.  Additionally, Piccola has sponsored a measure that would permit school districts to advertise from a menu of options including the Internet.

In addition to Dinniman, other members who support and have sponsored bills in the package include: Senators Alloway (R-33); Brubaker (R-36); Corman (R-34); Eichelberger (R-30); Folmer (R-48); Rafferty (R-44); Smucker (R-13); and Waugh (R-28).  A similar package has been introduced in the House of Representatives, and Governor Corbett has also called for significant mandate relief.   

Recognizing that the state's economic future is closely tied to a strong education system, Piccola underscored the need for this legislative package and the importance of relieving school districts of significant cost drivers.

"Our colleagues in both chambers of the Legislature need to understand that state and federally-imposed mandates are a tremendous strain on municipal and school budgets, and as a result, taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of the financial burden," he said.  "To shelve or delay tackling this issue during our economic crisis may result in a missed opportunity to rein in the costs that place the largest burden on the local taxpayer."

Holding up the over 2,000 page three-inch thick Public School Code at the press conference, Piccola emphasized, "For mandate relief, the future is now."

CONTACT:   

Colleen Greer (Piccola's Office), 717-787-6801
Adam Cirucci (Dinniman's Office), 610-692-2112

 

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