School officials and some of the people who might decide on the consolidation of school districts will meet Monday at the Montgomery County Community College West Campus in Pottstown.
The House Republican Policy Committee is conducting the hearing at the request of state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist.
The hearing takes place at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.
"Many people are interested in the proposal to consolidate Pennsylvania's school districts, but I have also spoken to those who are alarmed by the plan," Quigley said in written statement.
"School property taxes are a huge burden on people, but I am not convinced that school consolidation is the answer to lowering taxes," Quigley said. "Whatever method we choose to address the issue of school taxes, we must ensure that the priority remains providing the best education to Pennsylvania’s students."
Although the public is allowed into the hearing, it will not be an opportunity for the public to address the committee.
Five speakers have been scheduled to participate: John Armato, director of community relations for Pottstown School District; Reed Lindley, assistant superintendent of the Pottstown School District; Marsha Hurda, superintendent of the Spring-Ford School District; James Testerman, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and Greg White, an education consultant.
Consolidating Pennsylvania's public school districts from 500 to 100 was first proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell during his annual budget address in February. His plan involves creating a commission that would have on year to formulate two consolidation strategies. If the legislature does not approve either plan, Rendell would allow the state board of education to choose the strategy.
The issue of school consolidation was studied in 2006 by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and the study found that districts of less than 3,000 students offer the most cost-effective scenarios for merger, Quigley said.
Based on enrollment figures and geography, the commission only identified 80 districts for possible consolidation.
"Certainly, if consolidation would lower school district operating costs without impacting the quality of education, it deserves examination," Quigley said. "I am looking forward to hearing the testimony of those who are closes to the issue."
Labels: Montgomery County, School spending, Tom Quigley