Citizen's Call: Arcadia Hosts Educational Leadership Conference on PA School Budget

April 4, 2012

The Citizen's Call (Cheltenham, Pa.) reported on the education conference, “Unpacking the PA School Budget,” which was hosted by Arcadia’s Master's program in Educational Leadership on March 28. The panel of six included the President of Cheltenham’s Board of Commissioners, Art Haywood, and was moderated by Barauch Kintisch, the director of policy advocacy and senior staff attorney at the Education Law Center (ELC).  The discussion centered around Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed K-12 budget. Panelist Chris McGinley, superintendent of the Lower Merion School District and former superintendent of the Cheltenham schools, spoke up about the issue of accountability.

McGinley, speaking of the impact of state cuts on the wealthy district of Lower Merion, noted that 88 percent of his budget is funded through local sources, a far higher amount than in less affluent districts.  The impact of state cuts has fallen on teacher education and development and central office expenses there, rather than at the school level, he said.

On the issue of accountability, McGinley, who spent 18 years in the Philadelphia system, noted that in large districts it is harder to foster a sense of connection and ownership.  He pointed out that no systemwide K-12 perspective that can drill down to the source of specific concerns is likely to take root where the student population is large and highly mobile.  “Until you can reestablish an expectation of accountability, you may never get to where the suburban districts are.”

“Where parents are engaged,” he said, “accountability is to the parents.  Sometimes it’s painful, but it works.”

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