Gov. Wolf Visits York City School District to Talk About Closing the State Funding Gap for Underfunded Schools

July 07, 2021

Governor Tom Wolf today visited the Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy in York City to highlight the $416 million increase in state education funding in the state budget, including the new Level Up initiative that provides $100 million for the 100 most underfunded school districts in Pennsylvania. The York City School District will receive a $6.5 million increase in state funding this school year, including $3.3 million in Level Up support, the fourth most in the state.

The governor was joined by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, York City School District Superintendent Andrea Berry, Chief Recovery Officer Michael Thew, and Mindy Sweitzer, principal of the Phineas Davis K–8 School.

“This is an important first step in fulfilling our commitment to schools, students, and teachers,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s a step toward calming the worries of parents hoping for a brighter future for their kids.  It’s a step toward helping students chasing big dreams. And it’s a step toward supporting the teachers, administrators, and education programs our commonwealth needs.”

“I’m grateful to Governor Wolf and the General Assembly for passing a budget that makes critically important investments in our students and school communities, and ultimately our commonwealth,” said Education Secretary Noe Ortega. “This state budget – combined with federal funding – create opportunities to collaboratively and inclusively problem solve, meet our students where they are, address disparities, close gaps, open doors, and develop solutions that will serve them now and far into the future.”

Level Up is designed to begin closing the funding gap between the state’s wealthiest and poorest school districts, helping underserved students in urban, suburban and rural districts struggling with years of underfunding from the state. Many of the districts have been forced to raise property taxes to high rates, creating a greater burden on homeowners, while still lacking the revenue to adequately fund local schools. Level Up is a step to assist cash-strapped districts to begin improving educational quality.

The York City School District will use the $6.5 million state funding increase, with $3.3 million from Level Up funds, to support the district’s recovery plan and revisit valuable and research-based education programs that were eliminated due to lack of funding.

“These funds will assist with reoccurring operational costs, including transportation and special programs,” said Superintendent Berry. “The district will be able to repurpose operational funds to accelerate learning and provide state of the art technology for students in our reimagined educational forum, among other future ready opportunities.”

Level Up funding for other school districts in the region include $2.4 million for the Harrisburg School District and $2.2 million for the School District of Lancaster City. Suburban and rural districts will also be helped, with Columbia Borough School District and Ephrata School District in Lancaster County each receiving $360,000 and Shippensburg Area School District in Cumberland County receiving $265,000.

“Every student deserves a chance to learn, and Level Up will help give them that chance,” said Gov. Wolf. “While this year’s major investment is a good step, it’s not the end of the road. There is much more that needs to be done for communities like York that have suffered with inadequate school funding for too long.

“To ensure sustainable, adequate school funding we need to send all public education dollars through the fair funding formula. That’s how we’ll ensure every school district gets the resources it needs to serve students and provide a high-quality education.”

Gov. Wolf has made investments in students a priority throughout his term, reversing historic cuts to education and increasing annual funding by $1.8 billion.

The $416 million education funding increase includes:

  • $200 million increase to the fair funding formula, for a total of nearly $900 million, so all school districts have the resources to provide a high-quality education
  • $100 million for Level Up.
  • $50 million increase for special education.
  • $30 million increase for early education.
  • $20 million for Ready to Learn.

Pennsylvania is also investing $350 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to help schools address learning loss, and to provide summer enrichment and after school programs for students with academic, social, emotional and mental health needs.

 

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