With the legislature set to return Monday, the jostling for position in the fight is already underway.
Estimates on the projected budget shortfall run from more than 0 million (the Senate Democrats) to , and cost will frame every policy discussions between now and June 30.
The -- the union representing most of the state's public school teachers -- made its opening sales pitch for programs, and dollars, Thursday morning .
The union harped on the state spending 0 million less on public education than it did in 2011, though Corbett has maintained school spending at the end of former Gov. Ed Rendell's term was artificially inflated with one-time federal stimulus money.
PSEA faces a tough fight. In laying out their priorities this week, the Republicans that control both legislative chambers mentioned charter school reform, but no significant overhaul for public education.
"We know we're not going to get all of this in one year, but we're hoping to start making progress on every one of these," said PSEA President Michael Crossey. "Some of these things cost money, but we need to start making progress in that direction so the students in our classrooms today, and the students starting in September with the new budget, get the education they deserve."
Budgets are priorities, Crossey said. Here's some of what the union would like to see legislators take on:
Special education: The state has flat funded special education for the last five years. At the same time, the union says, school districts have had to spend half a billion more on special education, which is a major strain on budgets. This year, federal funding for the programs is expected to drop another million.
The union wants to the state to step in.
It also wants the state to revisit standardized testing for some of these students to see if there is another method that is more fair and accurate to measure their performance.
Tutoring: Multiple studies have shown that school offered tutoring programs can turn around struggling students.
But state funding for districts in the form of block grants has been cut by 7 million since 2011, according to the union.
"Pennsylvania students need Pennsylvania government to make a commitment to support high-quality tutoring programs, particularly those with an emphasis on literacy skills in early childhood grades," PSEA Vice President Jerry Oleksiak said.
Class size: Small class sizes, especially in early grades, can go a long way toward neutralizing achievement gaps between students, the union notes.
Small classes require more teachers. As funding has been cut, districts across the state have furloughed and laid off teachers.
"We need to maintain class sizes, and at least make sure they don't get any larger," Crossey said.
Charter school reform: The union wants the state to require more transparency from charters, including making them subject to the state's Ethics Law and Right to Know Law. It also wants advertising, lobbying and other non-educational costs removed from what school districts have to reimburse charters.
The state should also create a uniform cyber charter tuition rate, the union said.
Some of those things could be included in a greater charter reform package.
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