Will state budget deal bring relief for Upper Darby schools?
It’s a deal in Harrisburg.
But what about Upper Darby?
Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature reached a deal on a $27.65 billion spending plan, but the waiting game goes on in Upper Darby to see if the school can avert some serious cost-cutting that has raised the ire of parents and education activists.
There may be good news on that front as well.
I talked to someone who I think has a pretty good feel for what is going on in Harrisburg, and he told me it appears Upper Darby should get enough money restored to avoid cutting the beloved “special” classes in art and music at the elementary level, and tech and library for middle schoolers.
Here’s how the deal could work.
Negotiators have already replaced $50 million cut from the state education block grant program. This week a matching $50 million was supposed to be replaced.
Upper Darby’s share of that pot would come to about $726,000.
Then you have to look at the special fund that is set up for distressed school districts. There’s a big push to secure $2.5 million of that funding for Upper Darby. That would get them to about $3.2 million, which just happens to be in the neighborhood of what the district is looking to save by cutting the special classes.
No one is ready yet to talk on the record, but there is a big-time effort being done at the state level, which is “committed” to getting the money for local schools.
What isn’t known is if this can all be put in place before the school board takes its final vote on the controversial budget and realignment plan on Tuesday night.
But I know discussions have been held, and there may be a promise that the money is coming, even if it is not there yet.
The school board would then have to show a little faith of its own, rejecting the cuts as they await formal announcement of the funding.
None of this will solve Upper Darby’s ongoing fiscal dilemma. Then again, the rest of the state could say the same thing. And the district is once again going to be behind the 8-ball next year.
But at least for now, there may be a way out of the woods.
We’ll let you know as soon as we hear something official.
If I was a betting man, I’d put the house on these hated cuts somehow going away.