Schweiker, Rendell Join Leaders from Across PA; Call on Legislature to Fund Pre-K
Letter to the Legislature calls for $90 million investment to expand Pre-K to thousands of at-risk kids across PA
Harrisburg, PA (May 24, 2016) – Former Governors Edward G. Rendell and Mark S. Schweiker led a group of influential business, civic, military and law enforcement leaders from across the state today in support of continued investment in pre-k, urging the Pennsylvania legislature and the governor to expand access to thousands of at-risk kids in the final 2016-17 budget.
In a letter to leadership offices of the Pennsylvania legislature, the signers urged leaders in Harrisburg to cement bi-partisan consensus around a multi-year goal for growing access to high-quality pre-k for all of the income eligible children and begin looking at pre-k affordability issues regarding middle class families. Specifically, they called for $90 million in additional funding (as proposed by Governor Tom Wolf) as part of the 2016-17 final state budget.
This proposal builds on the $30 million in new funding already enacted for the second half of the current school year. If realized, $120 million in additional funding over two years for high-quality pre-k will serve an additional 14,000 three- and four-year-olds.
Across Pennsylvania, there are more than 175,000 three- and four-year-olds who are at-risk because they are in lower income households—70 percent of these at-risk young learners – more than 120,000 children statewide – had no access to publicly funded pre-k last year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is the full text of the letter and signatories.
You have heard from many of us on the life altering benefits that high quality pre-kindergarten can provide to our commonwealth’s youngest learners. You have also heard of the limited availability of such programs serving only one out of every six preschool age children in Pennsylvania.
The 2015-16 state budget included $30 million in additional funding for PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs – expanding access to more than 6,000 at-risk children. While this investment was a positive step, the fact remains that more than 120,000 income eligible three- and four-year-olds do not have access each year due to insufficient funding.
We encourage you to work with your colleagues to cement bi-partisan consensus around a multi-year goal for growing access to high quality pre-k for all of the income eligible children and begin looking at pre-k affordability issues regarding middle class families.
Specifically, we ask your support of $90 million in additional funding as part of the 2016-17 final state budget as yet another incremental step towards the above-mentioned goal.
Such an investment will set us on a path to reduce educational, public welfare and incarceration costs and have the most important added benefit of ensuring brighter futures for more of the commonwealth’s children.
Thank you very much for taking the time to consider this correspondence.
Mark Schweiker, 44th Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Ed Rendell, 45th Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Mary Stengel Austen, President & CEO, Tierney Communications
Joe Bard, Executive Director, PA Association of Rural and Small Schools
Bruce Bartels, Former President, WellSpan Health
Dennis Benchoff, Lieutenant General (Ret.), United States Army
Don Bernhard, Former Director, Community Affairs, PP&L
Betsy Bort, Vice-President, Commercial Lending, Erie Bank
Steven Bradley, Chairman, African-American Chamber of Commerce
Jim Buckheit, Executive Director, PA Association of School Administrators
Anthony Campisi, President & CEO, Glatfelter Insurance Group
Robert Celeski, Chairman, Employees Community Service Fund of GE
Denise Cesare, Former President & CEO, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
David Cohen, Senior Executive Vice-President, Comcast Corporation
Pete Danchak, President – Northeast PA, PNC Bank
Phil Devorris, President & CEO, Blair Companies
Ron DiNicola, Partner, DiNicola Law Offices
Stephanie Doliveira, Vice-President, Human Resources, Sheetz Inc.
Bob Esch, Vice-President External Affairs, American Refining Group
Tim Fallon, Chief Executive Officer, PBS-39
Varsovia Fernandez, Senior Vice-President, Phila. Market Leader, Customers Bank
Frank Ford, CEO – Allentown Campus, St. Luke’s University Health Network
Sara Furlong, Executive Communications Coordinator, American Refining Group
Robert Fyock, Sheriff, Indiana County Sheriff’s Office
Jeff Gayman, Senior Vice-President, Retail Banking & Consumer Lending, Orrstown Bank
Thomas Gluck, Executive Director, PA Association of Intermediate Units
Brad Gosser, Executive Director and Vice-President, Greenville-Reynolds Dev. Corporation
Michael Hanes, President & CEO, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
Bill Hankowsky, Chairman, President & CEO, Liberty Property Trust
Dave Hawk, Chairman of the Board, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
Paul Healey, Executive Director, PA Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals
Fritz Heinemann, President & CEO, EconomicsPennsylvania
Tara Hemmer, Area Vice-President, Waste Management of Greater Mid-Atlantic
Tom Hogan, District Attorney, Chester County District Attorney’s Office
Dan Hoover, President & CEO, Roaring Spring Blank Book Company
Joe Hurd, President & CEO, Blair County Chamber of Commerce
Renee Cardwell Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross SE PA Chapter
Bill Isler, President & CEO, Fred Rogers Company
Kathy Killian, Vice-President of Human Resources & Customer Services, Philadelphia Phillies
Tom King, Chief of Police, State College Police Department
James Kinneer, Vice-President, Indiana Regional Medical Center
Robert Krasne, Chief Executive Officer, Steinman Communications
Jay Kshatri, Chairman of the Board, Community Services for Children, Inc.
Allen Kukovich, Attorney At Law
Keith Leaphart, President & CEO, Replica Creative Inc.
Alice Lindenauer, Managing Director, Global Human Resources, Hamilton Lane
Jerry Maginnis, Office Managing Partner (Ret.), Phila. Office, KPMG LLP
Nathan Mains, Executive Director, PA School Boards Association
Ed Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Goodx.com
Dwight Mathis, Market Executive, Merril Lynch
Rob McNeill, Managing Partner, Deloitte, LLP – Greater Philadelphia Region
Paula McWilliams, President & CEO, Heritage Community Initiatives
Phyllis Mundy, State Representative (Ret.), 120th Legislative District
Dennis Noonan, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, Ford Business Machines
Jerry Oleksiak, President, Pennsylvania State Education Association
Dave Patti, President & CEO, Pennsylvania Business Council
Kathleen Pavelko, President & CEO, WITF Public Media
Joseph Peluso, Management Consultant
Phil Peterson, Deputy-Director, ReadyNation
Norm Rich, Former President & CEO, Weis Markets Inc.
Kristen Rotz, President, United Way of Pennsylvania
Brian Schreiber, Executive Director, Jewish Community Center
Nick Scott, Jr., Vice-President, Scott Enterprises
Judith von Seldeneck, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Diversified Search
Sandra Strauss, Director of Public Advocacy, PA Council of Churches
Sam Talarico, President, Northwestern Region – PSEA
Stephen Tang, President & CEO, University City Science Center
Vincentina Taylor, President, Waveline Direct, LLC
Art Thomas, Vice-President, Meck-Tech, Inc.
Kevin Thomas, Executive Director, PA District Kiwanis International
John Touey, Principal, Salveson Stetson Group
James Waddington, Director Strategic Marketing Solutions, Lockheed-Martin
Seth Williams, District Attorney, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Andrew Williford, Vice-President, Volvo Construction Equipment Operations
Tom Wilson, Rear Admiral (Ret.), United States Navy
Colby Windholz, Vice-President of Business Banking, First National Bank
Jake Witherell, Chief Operating Officer, Schell Games
Todd Wolynn, President & CEO, Kids Plus Pediatrics
Suzanne Yunghans, Executive Director, PA Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics
Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. For more information visit www.prekforpa.org.
The Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission is a network of business leaders that work to secure public investment in early learning by focusing on practices that are educationally, economically, and scientifically sound by increasing business, civic, and public awareness of the importance of early childhood education.
# # #