PSBA Legislative Priority Issue: School Funding
PSBA supports significant, continued state and federal financial investment for school districts. (Adopted by the PSBA Delegate Assembly as a legislative priority issue for the 2023-24 session of the General Assembly.)
Although state government and local school districts are partners in funding public schools, this partnership has been less than equal. Pennsylvania ranks 43rd in the country in the state’s share of funding for public schools. Said another way, from a national perspective, only seven other states receive a lower proportion of public education funding from state revenues than
Pennsylvania. 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. 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.
To meet the needs of the state’s 1.7 million public school students and to better enable all school districts to provide a world-class education, the state should increase its share of education funding, with increases running through the Basic Education Funding (BEF) formula.
Special Education: School districts are required by law to provide students with disabilities with a free appropriate public education, or “FAPE”. The provision of FAPE requires schools to provide the programs, services and supports that a student with a disability needs in order to receive an education. These added rights and protections come at an additional cost. But as costs have increased, state and federal special education funding has failed to keep pace. In the 2009-10 school year, state and federal funding for special education represented 38.1% of expenditures on special education. However, by the 2020-21 school year, that percentage had fallen to 24.5%.
To meet the needs of the state’s 313,000 public school students with disabilities and to better enable all school districts to provide world-class special education programs and services, the state and federal governments should increase their share of special education funding.