Pennsylvania’s students are best served by a public education system that is adequately and equitably funded. Research shows that education funding has a positive impact on student achievement and returns dividends for our economy.
Although state government and local school districts are partners in funding public schools, this partnership has been less than equal. Pennsylvania ranks 46th in the country in the state’s share of funding for public schools. Only about 38% of the costs of public education is covered by the state. Local school districts are forced to make up the difference, mostly through property taxes. This lack of state investment is troubling. Asking districts to continually generate greater resources at the local level only serves to expand the inequities of the current system and widens the gap between poor and affluent school districts.
The General Assembly took steps to address this issue through the development of a permanent, student-weighted basic education funding distribution formula that was signed into law under Act 35 of 2016. The formula directs money to school districts based on factors such as student enrollment, the needs of the student population, and school district wealth and capacity to raise local revenues. The formula gives districts a greater degree of transparency and predictability on funding.
However, to meet the purpose and intent of the current funding formula, the state should increase its share of education funding, with increases running through the fair funding formula.
PSBA’s advocacy work on this issue includes participation with PA Schools Work, a nonpartisan statewide movement of public school officials, teachers and community members seeking to secure more state funding for schools.