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Allentown, Reading school districts among most disadvantaged in United States, study finds

'It's not a surprise,' says Allentown's schools superintendent

Study: Allentown, Reading schools among most disadvantaged

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A new study paints a bleak picture of the funding situation for two area school district.

The Allentown School District and the Reading School District are two of the three most disadvantaged school districts nationwide, according to the study by a Rutgers University professor.

Reading ranks second worst; Allentown ranks third.

"It's not a surprise. It matches with a study that came out in July 2014," said Russ Mayo, Allentown's superintendent.

Mayo said the funding issue isn't new, but it's one that's having drastic impacts.

"The poverty piece is very severe. It impacts home. It impacts school. It impacts the kids," Mayo said.

The issue, Mayo said, has forced Allentown's school board to make drastic changes in recent years, including furloughs and program cuts.

"We don't have the luxury of some of the services we need for some of our kids, like remediation services," Mayo said.

Mayo said reading remediation services were cut because there just wasn't enough money to fund them.

Despite that, Mayo sees a light at the end of the tunnel. He said the city's special tax district, known as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, has been bringing in more money.

"The NIZ has certainly helped with not having to raise taxes this year," Mayo said.

Plus, he said, more money could soon be funneled in from the state.

Just last week, a bipartisan committee in Harrisburg approved a new funding formula for how state funds are allocated to public schools. It takes household income and ESL programs into consideration.

It's believed Allentown would greatly benefit from the program.

"We would want to finish full-day kindergarten, we would want to increase offerings in the arts, and we would want to hire intervention specialists to help students with remediation," Mayo said.

Lawmakers are expected to pass that new funding formula, but it's still unknown how much money would be handed out when.

Reading's school superintendent was not available for comment.

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