After last year, parents from Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School in Roxborough are trying to get ahead of the state budget.
"This was an amazing school that achieved well academically and anchored our neighborhood. But no school is immune to the cuts we saw with Corbett's budget," parent Rebecca Poyourow said at a town hall meeting Rep. Pamela DeLissio (D-194) led at Roxborough Memorial Hospital Tuesday.
Holding a letter cosigned by 230 parents, Poyourow spoke of the hardships the school has faced coming off Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's first budget.
"We had a safe, well functioning school that was our pride and our neighborhood's pride, but we were slammed by Gov. Corbett's budget," she said.
Poyourow delivered the letter to the Roxborough state rep, who she said, "We know you have our back." She also mailed the letter to state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7) and Corbett.
In 2011, Poyourow and other parents traveled to Harrisburg in protest. In the new letter, parents laid out the impact on Corbett's first budget, including:
- The loss of a Spanish teacher, assistant principal, school police officer, four out of five noontime aides, and half the time of a music teacher.
- A nonexistent supply budget, which causes parents to often donate reams of paper.
- No paid staff to monitor students getting on/off buses.
- A gifted program funded for 35 hours for the entire school year.
DeLissio agreed with the parents' assertion on cuts and also pointed to what she called a fundamental flaw within the education system.
"You can't fund public education off of property taxes—that's what's wrong," DeLissio said, adding later, "We don't deliver a quality education product to all of our students."
Residents unaffiliated with the school also reacted.
"The state is worried about its privatization of liquor stores, but it's our schools where we need to focus," resident Marguerite Byrd said.
A single-mother who has already raised children, Byrd said after the meeting her heart goes out to new parents.
"Education was great when I raised my kids, and it sucks now. I feel bad for the kids in the system now," she said.
Another resident said she was "appalled by the cuts at Cook-Wissahickon" and questioned whether education was equally funded across the state.
Education came up as part of a larger discussion DeLissio led on vouchers. A legislative priority of the governor's, DeLissio maintained her stance against it.
"I've yet to be persuaded that vouchers are the answers. The details aren't there for me," she said.
On the budget, Poyourow and parents closed the letter with a plea to Corbett:
"We have attempted to document their effects on our school in this letter. We hope that, having seen what your state budget cuts have meant, you will restore funding in 2012 for the sake of all the children of Pennsylvania."
To read the letter, click here.