Schwank Announces Plans to Introduce Bills to Aid School Mergers

Sen SchwankImage via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

READING, PA — Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) announced she plans to introduce two bills that would aid Pennsylvania public school districts seeking a merger.

The first bill would provide funding from the commonwealth to offset increased per-pupil and administrative costs for up to five years following a merger. With this, the funding required would be assessed through a study, paid for by the commonwealth, to determine the estimated costs of merging. The second bill would establish an advisory commission to develop a comprehensive plan for public education along with school district consolidation.

The bills come in response to flooding over the summer that rendered Antietam Middle Senior High School unusable. While school districts should not be forced or incentivized into merging, Schwank said she believes resources at the state level are needed to support mergers in the event local school boards and district administrators decide to pursue that option.

“Both bills provide commonsense support to the school district merger process without taking any decision-making away from local communities,” Schwank said. “Every local school district still retains the right to decide if a merger is the correct decision for its circumstance. However, since a merger is such a big undertaking and comes at considerable costs, I believe the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania needs to be a part of the process and ensure all mergers go over as smoothly as possible.”

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