The Campaign for Fair Education Funding assembled in the Capitol rotunda on Thursday to underscore the importance of a $100 million increase in basic education funding. Campaign members stood together to tell legislators that a funding increase is truly critical for students.
“Both the state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf and the version passed by the Pennsylvania House included a $100 million increase in the line item for basic education,” said Joan Benso, President and CEO of the PA Partnerships for Children and co-chair of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. “This level must be maintained in whatever final version becomes law.”
The group also urged that the increase not be diluted by cuts to other funding streams for public schools, such as school transportation.
“The proposed $100 million increase will not even keep pace with schools’ mandated expenditures over which they have no control,” said John Callahan, Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy for the PA School Boards Association (PSBA). “Anything less than $100 million will force many districts to make deeper budget cuts, including the elimination of programs and staff.”
Even with the governor’s proposed increase, Pennsylvania’s state share of public school funding remains one of the lowest in the country. Local districts are left to fund more and more of the bill for education, and many communities have reached their local tax capacity.
“According to our annual PASA/PASBO survey report, 43 percent of districts believe that the fiscal conditions of their districts will worsen,” said Mark DiRocco, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. “Many schools simply will not be able to get students what they need – smaller class sizes, a full array of courses and activities, tutoring and other academic support, up-to-date textbooks and technology – without greater resources.”
“Educating our children is a moral responsibility that the state is abdicating if it is not paying its fair share,” said Tracey DePasquale, Interim Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA. “The $100 million is the least that could be done to move us toward adequate, equitable funding for our students, and it must be protected in the final budget bill.”
The Campaign called on the Governor and the General Assembly to reject any proposal that does not provide at least the $100 million increase.
Contact: Brittany Crampsie, 717-724-1681 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding includes more than 50 education advocacy organizations; teachers and school administrators; representatives of charter schools and traditional public schools; urban and rural interests; business and organized labor; faith-based groups; and community groups.