Department of Education Highlights Summer Learning Programs, Large State Funding Increase

Summer Learning ProgramsCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — In an effort to highlight summer educational initiatives, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) yesterday visited Lebanon School District to celebrate Summer Learning Week and discuss the importance of summer learning programs, which are being coordinated by schools across the state to meet students where they are and prepare them for the upcoming school year.

“Summer learning programs – like the ones taking place in the Lebanon School District – create opportunities for students to reconnect with teachers, continue to learn, and prepare for a new school year that will begin – for many – next month,” said Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “As an education ecosystem, we’re intentionally and collectively paving paths forward for our students. This state budget – combined with federal funding – creates opportunities to collaboratively and inclusively problem solve, meet students where they are, address disparities, close gaps, open doors, innovate, and generate solutions that best serve students now and far into the future.”

Secretary Ortega also highlighted the $416 million increase in state education funding in the state budget, including the new Level Up initiative that provides $100 million for some of the most underfunded school districts in Pennsylvania. The Lebanon School District will receive a $3.46 million increase in state funding this school year, including $1.25 million in Level Up support.

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“The Lebanon School District was delighted to welcome Secretary Noe Ortega and PDE leadership to Lebanon Middle School,” said Lebanon School District Superintendent Dr. Arthur W.C. Abrom. “We were honored to showcase the utilization of our additional ESSER and Level-Up funding in our expanded Summer School Programs, which were designed to address student learning loss due to the pandemic.”

This spring, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) launched the National Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative, a combination of federal funding ​and state and local leaders working with stakeholders to design evidence-based summer programs to support students through learning loss during the pandemic. The partnership includes the USDE, the Council of Chief State School OfficersNational Governors Association, and other national partners working together to ensure that all children have access to high quality summer learning and enrichment opportunities for this summer and beyond.

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The PDE online resource “Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Support,” ​is a toolkit and a professional learning series for school leaders and educators to help address students’ learning loss caused by the pandemic.

Governor Tom Wolf signed the state budget that includes the largest state funding increase for public school students in Pennsylvania history with a $416 million increase for public education. The budget makes crucial investments to support the needs of schools and students, including a $200 million increase in the Fair Funding Formula, $100 million to support underfunded school districts through the Level Up initiative – of which Lebanon School District is a recipient, $50 million in special education funding, $30 million for early education, $20 million for Ready to Learn, $11 million for preschool Early Intervention and $5 million for community colleges.

The additional resource of $4.9 billion to Pennsylvania in emergency federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) will support the long-term work of education recovery. At least 90 percent, or $4.5 billion, of the ARP ESSER funding will be distributed to eligible public-school districts and charter schools, with each entity receiving an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020. Recognizing the differential effects of the pandemic and related challenges, PDE encourages schools to leverage ARP ESSER funding, as well as earlier rounds of federal emergency aid, to accelerate a return to in-person learning, while also planning for the long-term.

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More information on the Accelerated Learning toolkit and professional learning series is available on PDE’s website: education.pa.gov/AcceleratedLearning.

For a breakdown of education allocations in the state budget, please visit www.education.pa.gov/budget.

More information on ARP ESSER is available on PDE’s website: education.pa.gov/ARPESSER.

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