April 3, 2020
The Honorable Tom Wolf
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Wolf:
On behalf of the 14% (two hundred thirty-nine thousand plus students) of Pennsylvania's school children and thousands of
educators and leaders in Pennsylvania's nonpublic schools, we thank you sincerely for your leadership in handling the COVID-19 crisis.
As you have communicated publicly about the unprecedented challenges in the delivery of education to families across our state, we feel
it has been important to include the PA nonpublic schools as part of the state's educational network. Every child is important, and they
all need compassionate care and leadership in what is a trying time for them.
Our nonpublic school leaders and educators are developing new ways to deliver a quality education to their students in all
areas of Pennsylvania, without an established prior roadmap. Many of our schools have offered a continuous and seamless educational
plan for our families from day one of the school closures. Our students and parents are cooperating beautifully.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented crisis. Across our diverse and broad coalition of nonpublic schools and organizations,
we have witnessed and borne the significant costs of this public health crisis. The expenses incurred during the preparation, planning
and implementation process for our continuity of instruction plans throughout this crisis are extreme. As a cohesive and robust network
of schools, we must be part of any solution that is devised. We also are concerned that, even more than the public sector, the non-public
educational sector could face unique and exacerbated implications of this crisis long after the public sector has recovered from this
We are most focused on the following critical areas of impact to our schools, and respectfully must ask our elected leaders to
especially consider the following:
The extended impact of this crisis bring an even more critical concern for the nonpublic school community, and that is survival.
The average size of a nonpublic school is less than 200 students. Many of these schools and those associated with them are part
of the fabric of their community or town in which they exist. These schools stretch all of their resources to the limits and
often beyond. A crisis of this magnitude puts their future in great jeopardy. At times like this, families and children are
greatly concerned about the uncertainty of the crisis and whether they will return to their school, their teachers and school community.
- In the same manner as public schools, nonpublic schools are seeking funding for the recommended CDC cleaning and sterilizing
of our school buildings to remove any signs of COVID-19. If we are fortunate enough to reopen, we appreciate that there will
still be some ongoing risks of transmission, so cleaning will be a continuing need, as will other precautionary measures
(e.g., protective masks).
- We are also seeking funding for all the additional costs incurred for remote learning, e.g., hiring additional staff,
purchasing a platform to host the new distance learning and all other related costs.
- The need to stabilize and increase the current funding levels, including the specific areas benefiting nonpublic students
and schools (transportation, nonpublic pupil school assistance, nursing services, security grants programs, textbooks, and others).
- Ensure that federal funds committed and received by the state are equitably distributed to nonpublic schools, as we understand
the Federal laws to require.
- Any funds expended by the state to cover gaps in federal legislation must also include nonpublic schools, including loss of revenue,
or specific expenses related to COVID-19 preparation and interruption.
- Nonpublic schools must immediately receive and be held harmless related to their equitable share of federal title programs and
services, and funding/services carried forward must be held harmless.
- Any additional support of small businesses in the Commonwealth be designed to include both our non-profit educational institutions
and the non-profit IRC §501(c)(3) entities and churches that often provide support for them.
We are afraid numerous nonpublic schools will have to close without additional funding streams to assist with the extra
costs COVID-19 has caused. Simply put, it would cost Pennsylvania more to educate additional students than it would to help
defray the additional costs COVID-19 has placed on nonpublic schools.
Working in collaboration on these challenges - now and going forward - will be greatly appreciated, and your leadership
in facilitating this partnership at the local level between public and nonpublic schools will be critical to our collective success.
Thank you for your time, consideration and cooperation during these trying times.
|Dr. D. Merle Skinner
|| Sean P. McAleer|
|| MGA, PA Catholic Conference|
|Dr. David Hegedus
|| Arielle Frankston-Morris|
|Association of Christian Schools International
|| Teach PA-Orthodox Union|
|Rabbi Ariel Sadwin
|| Marie Conti|
|Agudath Israel-Mid-Atlantic Region
|| American Montessori Society|
|Gary J. Niels
|| Otto V. Banks|
|Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS)
|| REACH Foundation and Alliance|
Mailing: 845 Silver Spring Plaza, Ste B, Lancaster, PA 17601-1183