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.

Respectfully submitted,

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,

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

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.


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