The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is pleased that the 2021-22 state budget will prioritize public schools and students by including significant increases for basic and special education subsidies, as well as the allocation of one-time federal funds to address critical learning and related needs.
If approved, a $300 million increase in basic education funding (BEF) represents one of the largest increases in history and should help ensure that local taxpayers are not required to foot the bill for all of the increases in mandated costs such as pensions and charter school tuition. The budget allocates $100 million of the increase in BEF funding for a new “Level-Up” initiative, which accelerates the positive impact of the BEF formula on those school districts identified under the proposal as being the most in-need of additional state funding.
A $50 million increase in special education funding matches the substantial increase in special education funding from two years ago and will ensure the state picks up a larger share of special education expenses. Currently, state funding for special education only supports 22% of public school costs for providing mandatory special education programs and services.
In addition to these anticipated increases, the budget is expected to distribute nearly $471 million of the state’s federal American Rescue Plan one-time funding to schools to address learning loss, at-risk youth, and other needs that have occurred or worsened due to instructional changes necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PSBA looks forward to working with the General Assembly on issues affecting public education in the future, with particular focus on charter school funding reform.