Corbett’s block grant program deserves a full examination

Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal includes a $1 billion block grant program from privatization of the liquor store system and a 1.7 percent increase in the basic education subsidy.

But the superintendents of Lycoming County’s eight public school districts, interviewed by the Sun-Gazette, were for the most part unimpressed.

Williamsport Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley called the infusion a “gross inadequacy” given underfunding of the previous years.

And because the block grants are only for four years, most of the superintendents said the money from it wouldn’t allow for establishment of any new programs.

We empathize with the superintendents’ thinking. They are asked to meet more academic, athletic and cultural needs than ever before with decreased revenue sources. It’s a tough job.

But we wonder if they shouldn’t take a deep breath before being too critical of what Gov. Corbett is proposing in the block grant program. The money can be used for enhancing of learning programs in grades K-3, customized learning plans for students and enhancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in grades 6-12.

If the administrations are wary of starting programs they can’t later fund when the grants run out – a valid concern – why not use the money to fund school safety, an eligible use for the money and a priority with most parents.

With all the financial strains the school districts are under, we find it hard to believe the block grants wouldn’t be helpful in any way the next four years.