Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1552 into law, which establishes a fair funding formula and provides emergency funds for two of the commonwealth’s financially distressed school districts. Governor Wolf also called for new funding to help restore equity to Pennsylvania public school districts.
“Prior to today, Pennsylvania was one of only three states in the nation without a fair funding formula,” said Governor Wolf. “Following great work by the Basic Education Funding Commission, the commonwealth finally has a permanent formula for the distribution of basic education funding that takes into account each district’s unique needs.”
“I look forward to continuing to work with leaders in the coming weeks to further address our challenges and reach agreement on a budget that is balanced, fixes the deficit and further invests in education at all levels,” Governor Wolf continued. “We still have a lot of work to do in order to restore funding, but we are now closer to resolving the inequity in Pennsylvania’s school funding distribution.”
House Bill 1552, now Act 35, establishes a fair, equitable formula for allocating new state funds to Pennsylvania schools.
The Basic Education Funding (BEF) Formula accounts for district based factors including the wealth of the district, the district’s current tax effort, and the ability of the district to raise revenue. It also includes student-based factors like:
- Number of children in the district who live in poverty,
- Number of children enrolled in charter schools, and
- Number of children who are English language learners.
- The BEF Formula was created and unanimously adopted by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in June 2015. Having a formula in place will assure school districts that new funding will be distributed equitably and investments in education will no longer be determined by the influence of one legislator over another.
Governor Wolf is seeking additional education funding in the 2016-17 budget, which would be distributed using the new BEF Formula. The 2015-16 budget included a $200 million increase in Basic Education Funding that will be distributed using the Fair Funding Formula.
This increase, along with the new funding formula, will continue to restore Pennsylvania schools from the deep cuts of 2011. This will also help to ensure that all students are getting equitable access to a quality public education.
In addition to enacting a fair funding formula, Act 35 contains emergency funding for two financially distressed school districts in the commonwealth. Wilkinsburg in Allegheny County will receive $3 million and Chester Upland in Delaware County will receive $12 million, with each amount being applied to the districts’ base funding moving forward.
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