HARRISBURG –The state will be able to drive out critical funding to schools and present a more streamlined approach to school safety under a budget implementation measure approved by the Senate today, said Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
“House Bill 301 will deliver crucial state funding for educational institutions across the commonwealth and make advancements in preparing the next generation of our workforce,” said Bartolotta. “In addition, parents deserve to trust in the safety of their children when they are at school. Passing this bill helps to honor our responsibility to protect students and fund important programs that help to educate them.”
House Bill 301 allocates funding for several critical priorities that were included in the 2023-24 state budget, including:
- $100 million for K-12 mental health programs.
- An additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students through the existing Education Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs.
- $295 million for Ready-to-Learn Block Grants.
- More than $261 million for community colleges.
- More than $76 million in special education funding for intermediate units.
- $10 million to create a new Educator Pipeline Support Grant Program to provide grants to student teachers.
- $46.5 million in reimbursements to school entities that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
- More than $70 million in state aid to public libraries.
- $14.5 million in funding for career and technical schools.
- $7 million to assist distressed schools.
The bill would also ensure greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which currently manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by Senate Republicans in 2018.
The legislation transfers several functions of the Office of Safe Schools – including the Safe Schools Targeted Grants for school safety equipment and programs and school police officers/school resource officers – to PCCD. School districts would also be required to share additional information on the number and type of school police officers and school resource officers, as well as data on powers granted to those entities.
Under the plan, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Homeland Security would provide assistance in developing a safe schools collaborative and providing data on the number requests for assistance from schools.
The bill also removes the requirement for schools to make Social Security payments from their basic education appropriation and provides additional flexibility for schools to fill substitute teaching positions.
House Bill 301 was sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Katrina Hanna, 717-787-1463