The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is optimistic about the proposed investment of $1.8 billion in public education included in Governor Shapiro’s second budget address.
During the governor’s first budget address, he referred to his proposed increase in funding as a down payment for the commonwealth’s public schools. PSBA believes that this year’s additional investment shows that the governor has listened to the school leaders who have been stressing the significant, critical needs of public schools, students and communities.
One year ago, the Commonwealth Court ruled in William Penn School District v. Pennsylvania Department of Education that Pennsylvania’s system of funding public education is unconstitutional. The governor’s budget acts on the bipartisan work of the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and seeks to implement several of the BEFC’s recommendations.
The proposed budget also addresses cyber charter tuition, student mental health, staffing shortages and school infrastructure, all of which are top concerns that school leaders identified in PSBA’s recently released State of Education report.
The governor’s proposed budget addresses the critical need for cyber charter school funding reform. His proposal would establish a statewide cyber tuition rate of $8,000 per student per year to better align with the cost of providing an online education. The proposal would save school districts an estimated $262 million annually.
The proposed budget also continues vital investments in student mental health supports for schools, which is essential as school leaders report student mental health issues as their biggest instructional challenge in the 2024 State of Education report.
Ultimately, school leaders and educators know that students cannot be set up for success without adequate and safe school environments. The proposed 2024 – 25 budget calls for continuing a $50 million annual investment in school safety and security improvements. It also provides an additional $300 million in sustainable funding for environmental repair projects in school buildings.
PSBA stands ready to work with the administration and General Assembly throughout the budget process to enact funding and policy changes that will not only bring Pennsylvania’s education funding into compliance with the state constitution, but also provide a high-quality education for the 1.7 million students who attend a public school.