Area Lawmakers Say Additional State Funding Reimburses County School Districts
10/20/2014
LANCASTER – Two Lancaster County school districts this week received approval for reimbursement of costs associated with completed construction projects as a result of recent actions taken by the General Assembly, said state Reps. Ryan Aument(R-41), Bryan Cutler (R-100), Keith J. Greiner (R-43) and John Lawrence (R-13), who advocated for the additional funding.

Penn Manor School District, represented by Aument, Cutler and Greiner, received approval for a reimbursement of $722,849 for construction completed on Central Manor Elementary School in 2011. Octorara Area School District, represented by Cutler and Lawrence, will receive a reimbursement of $329,907 for work completed on Octorara Senior High School.

“Notification this week that the Central Manor Elementary School renovation/addition project has been approved for state reimbursement is a welcome relief and assures that the district will not need to divert dollars away from classrooms in order to fulfill the district’s remaining financial obligations towards the project, which was completed in 2011 to accommodate a growing population of students in this region,” said Dr. Michael Leichliter, Penn Manor School District superintendent.

The approvals are a direct result of a $10 million increase to the Plan Con process that lawmakers included in the 2014-15 state budget. These additional funds allowed the Pennsylvania Department of Education to distribute funding to a total of 44 school districts awaiting reimbursement for construction projects.

Aument said without additional funding allocated for this purpose some school districts would have been forced to turn to taxpayers to balance their budgets.

“When school districts do not receive reimbursement, they are often forced to turn to taxpayers for help in meeting their debt obligations in the form of property tax increases,” he said. “Reducing backlog in the system was necessary to ensure our schools could continue to provide students with a safe and modern learning environment without asking for additional help from local families.”

While the lawmakers were pleased to see local schools receive long-awaited reimbursements, they believe a comprehensive overhaul of the Plan Con process is still necessary.

“We need to be able to offer school districts a modern approach to reimbursement that saves time and money, and reduces the financial uncertainty that exists when schools begin the complicated 11-step process,” Cutler said.

“These reimbursements indicate the General Assembly’s actions to strengthen Plan Con have been effective, and that is great news for school districts across the state,” Lawrence said. “But, it is clear that many of the existing mechanisms for funding public education, including Plan Con, are overly burdensome and costly and should be streamlined.”

The Plan Con, or Planning and Construction Workbook, is a group of forms school districts must complete to pursue reimbursement for school construction projects. The process is designed to document a local school district’s planning process, provide justification for a project to the public, ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations, and establish the level of state participation in the cost of the project.

Representative Ryan Aument
41st Legislative District
Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Representative Keith J. Greiner
43rd Legislative District
Representative John Lawrence
13th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Abbey Haslam
717.260.6222
ahaslam@pahousegop.com  
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