A Democratic state lawmaker is calling for a $30 million dollar infusion into more than a dozen of Pennsylvania's poorest school districts, including the McKeesport, Sto-Rox, Woodland Hills, and Aliquippa areas in the Pittsburgh region.
Yet with state revenues down this year, the governor and lawmakers are expecting another difficult budget process.
Representative Eugene DePasquale (D-York County) suggested two different ways to pay for the targeted education grants. One way was to pay for it with any revenue that comes from the as-yet nonexistent Marcellus Shale impact fee.
The other suggestion would be to cut state money for correctional facilities, which DePasquale said have seen funding increases over the years.
"If you want to talk about what's going to improve Pennsylvania in the future, investing in those kids right now is going to improve Pennsylvania's future," DePasquale said. "Not investing in them right now is going to mean we're building more prisons down the line."
Mike Crossey, a teacher and the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, supports the Priority Assistance Grant for Education, or PAGE.
"Why are these schools struggling? Because they don't have the resources to pay for solutions that work for students," Crossey said. "The PAGE program can help solve that. It will invest in our struggling schools – not cut them. It will promote solutions that work – not eliminate them."
Other cash-strapped school districts, including Chester-Upland and Greater Johnstown, would also be given funding under this new program.