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Gov. Wolf Tours New Castle School, Pledging More State Money

NEW CASTLE (KDKA) -- New Castle Area School District gave Gov. Tom Wolf quite a welcome, as he pitched his budget plan of $400 million more in state money for basic education funding.

The visit to George Washington School came the day after Wolf's education secretary sent all 500 school superintendents a letter listing the ways the money, if approved by the legislature, has to be used to restore programs cut during the Corbett years.

That includes early childhood programs, smaller class size, summer learning programs, career and technical education, and music-art-and-library enrichment.

Wolf toured the grade school, talking to students and teachers.

Third graders seemed impressed.

"He like wants to make an improvement with the schools, like getting us doing different stuff, and just trying to make us learn more," said third grader Tyler Adamo of New Castle.

Superintendent John Sarandrea got more specific about the impact of prior budget cuts.

"Over the last four years, we've had to reduce our pre-K program from a full day to a half day," noted Sarandrea. "In the demographic that we live in and the socio-economics of our community that had a detrimental effect on our students."

Wolf pledged action, as he has in other school districts.

"I'm putting $1.3 million -- my proposal -- additional dollars into the New Castle School District," the governor told the crowd.

To pay for this, Wolf has proposed a severance tax on drilling.

"A big chunk of that, hundreds of millions of dollars, will come into education," promised Wolf.

Still unclear is whether the legislature will go along.

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