WCSD would gain from liquor proposal

Liquor privatization, if approved, could bring an additional $3,690,635 over a four-year window to the Warren County School District according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

A Feb. 12 release from the governor’s office details the Passport for Learning Block Grant program. He proposes to use an estimated $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of the state’s liquor system to crease the grant, which will be divided among the Commonwealth’s school districts. The release indicates that this funding is in addition to a $90 million increase in the upcoming for basic education funding.

“Let’s get Pennsylvania out of this outdated system of selling alcohol once and for all, and re-invest the proceeds into Pennyslvania’s future – our children,” Corbett said at a Tuesday conference with legislators, educators and business leaders. “Selling liquor is not a core function of government; education is.”

Currently, legislation has not been introduced that would privatize the state’s liquor sales system but State Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21) said on Wednesday that such legislation is on the way.

“I think they are finalizing the language,” he said. “Over the last couple of weeks, the governor has talked about the basic components of his proposal.” An effort is underway that is “getting them in legal form.”

According to a spreadsheet from the governor’s office, the district would receive a projected $738,127 from the proposed grant in 2014-2015 with the remainder of the funding to come over the next three years.

“I think it sounds very good,” Hutchinson explained. “It’s not ongoing money. It’s a four year enhancement,” explaining that the educators from across the state who took part in Tuesday’s conference “are excited” about the potential for the program.

The funding will offer funds to be used in four initiatives including student safety, early education in an effort to ensure student proficiency by grade three, individualized learning programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

Hutchinson said that in “one or all of those areas, school districts can enhance their program.”

“Government not only needs to provide for an education for our young people, it needs to provide a quality education that gets them ready for the careers of this new century,” Corbett added.

Warren County School District Business Director Jim Grosch said that, with privatization still up in the air, “it would be premature to offer a position/opinion at this time.”

However he did note that, according to the governor’s budget, the district is slated to receive flat funding for the Accountability Block Grant, used to pay for full-day kindergarten program, as well as special education. While the governor’s proposal is not final and is subject to change by the General Assembly, “at this time, the Governor is calling for a $336,322 increase to Basic Education Funding for the WCSD,” said Grosch.