BLOG: PA Has a Long-Term School Funding Crisis — Just Ask the Experts

By: Megan Healey, Deputy Press Secretary

March 09, 2016

Long before Governor Wolf took office, Pennsylvania had a systemic problem in the way it funded public education. The commonwealth is one of only three states without a funding formula. Pennsylvania’s school districts, on average, receive just 35 percent of their funding from state dollars — which leads to soaring property taxes at the local level. Further, the $1 billion in cuts made under the previous administration have been detrimental to students in all 500 districts — but especially those in low-income areas.

Fixing this broken system continues to be Governor Wolf’s number one priority. While lawmakers have not yet agreed on a solution, it’s important for everyone to acknowledge the problem.

PSEA President Jerry Oleksiak: “Anyone who says this isn’t a crisis is just wrong. Gov. Wolf has a solution to fix it.”

Public Opinion Editorial Board: “Regarding the governor’s plan to invest in schools versus the GOP’s desire for ever more state tax cuts, we have to side with the governor. His campaign and his inaugural and budget addresses were clear on making education – and by extension local tax reform – a priority.”

Elizabethtown College Professor Jill Sunday Bartoli: “The Legislature’s Republican majority has truly forsaken the most vulnerable children in PA by perpetuating a system of funding education that promotes inequity through an over-reliance on property taxes.”

Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matthew Splain: “The system does not provide enough resources to educate every student to academic standards, nor does it distribute dollars according to a fair and valid formula.”

Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Board: “For the last several years, schools across Pennsylvania have fallen deeper and deeper into crisis…Philadelphia and other districts with the poorest children are disproportionately affected and we have long since passed the point where we could cut our way out of this crisis. New state revenue and new state laws are essential.”

Former Upper Darby Superintendent Joseph Batory: “One key factor that has delayed the budget process is that too many legislators are refusing to face the reality that Pennsylvania’s constitution mandates that the state “thoroughly and efficiently support public education.” The Legislature did put forward a budget in late June (vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf) that came nowhere near addressing this obligation.”

Nancy Hubley of Education Law Center & Patrick Dowd of Allies For Children: “Not having sufficient resources is unfortunately nothing new for Pennsylvania students. Years of inadequate and inequitable funding have forced many school districts to eliminate programs, lay off teachers and reduce academic support for students. These cuts particularly harm at-risk learners who lag behind their peers and will continue to do so unless they are provided with resources and supports that address their needs.”

To learn more about Governor Wolf’s commitment to Schools That Teach, click here.



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