One year ago, the PA General Assembly overwhelmingly passed HB1552 establishing a fair funding formula for basic education. However, the formula only applies to new dollars.
If you take into account the student and local district factors in that formula and actually run the numbers we come up about $3 billion short of adequate funding. Unless the legislature makes a commitment for sustained and significant increases it will be years before students in our underfunded districts have the resources they need to succeed.
Reprise June 2, 2016: Governor Wolf Signs Fair Funding Formula, Renews Call To Restore Funding
Governor Wolf’s Website June 02, 2016
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:
“For the life of me, I can’t figure out the whys and the hows,” William Penn School Board Vice President Rafi Cave said, “how the Pennsylvania General Assembly could maintain and support a system that boasts the worst funding disparity from wealthy to poor districts in the entire country and why it’s OK for students in schools just a few miles apart, even in the same county, to receive more than $5,000 less than another student.”
Delco officials call on state to adequately fund public schools
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 06/01/17, 9:25 PM EDT
DARBY TOWNSHIP >> William Penn Schools Superintendent Jane Harbert says she lies awake at night grappling with a teacher’s complaint that the duct tape binding classroom books is failing. Rose Tree Media Superintendent James Wigo says the only time state legislators will care is when wealthier districts reach that point. “We are all destined to the same fate,” Wigo said Wednesday at a press conference staged by the Campaign for Fair Education Funding at Southeast Delco’s Kindergarten Center attended by several Delaware County superintendents and school board members. One of the main messages was how Pennsylvania ranks 46th in the United States for the state’s share of education funding as the state pays for 37 percent of educational costs. Advocates say in a state with such difference among districts coupled with mandates and various funding pressures such as limited resources due to socio-economics or aging populations, this percentage is no where near enough. “For the life of me, I can’t figure out the whys and the hows,” William Penn School Board Vice President Rafi Cave said, “how the Pennsylvania General Assembly could maintain and support a system that boasts the worst funding disparity from wealthy to poor districts in the entire country and why it’s OK for students in schools just a few miles apart, even in the same county, to receive more than $5,000 less than another student.”
“Pennsylvania ranks 46th in the United States when it comes to its share of education funding. The current 37 percent share of the education tab currently picked up by the state falls far short of the long-stated goal of 50 percent funding.”
Editorial: It’s time to fund the fair funding formula
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 06/01/17, 9:27 PM EDT | UPDATED: 55 SECS AGO
It is the sound – and the numbers – of the season.
Upper Darby School District: 2.99 percent. $7 million
Southeast Delco School District: 2.75 percent.
Interboro School District: 3.4 percent.
Springfield School District: 2.5 percent.
Penn-Delco School District: 3 percent.
And those are just the ones from the past week. Earlier it was Garnet Valley and Rose Tree Media, both announcing healthy tax hikes. In Pennsylvania, which still relies on property taxes for the bulk of school funding, that means schools will be asking home owners to dig a little deeper in their wallets to cover their school tax bill. Relying on property taxes creates a built-in inequity in the funding that flows to our public schools.
“The situation is exacerbated by the fact that each year the cost of managing a school district increases. These costs are often outside the control of local school leaders. These include a broken funding system for charter schools; ballooning pension obligations that are mandatory, as well as morally and legally required; and rising costs for health care, special education and transportation. Our state leaders must provide our students with equitable and adequate basic education funding while simultaneously acting legislatively to deal with these escalating costs, which are siphoning classroom resources from our students.
To further complicate matters, the Trump administration is proposing major cuts to federal education funding — such as Medicaid ACCESS and Title II funding, after-school programs, teacher professional development and class size reduction —that will have a devastating effect on schools across Pennsylvania.”
William H. Kerr: Don’t starve the schools
Post Gazette Opinion by WILLIAM H. KERR 12:00 AM JUN 2, 2017
William H. Kerr is superintendent at Norwin School District and a charter member of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents, where he also serves on the executive committee.
Each May, school districts across Pennsylvania propose education budgets that will guide educational programs for the upcoming school year. The goal of the school district budget is to strike a balance between providing a quality education for all students and doing what is fiscally responsible for local taxpayers. However, as superintendents, we have found that creating a balanced budget for the upcoming 2017-18 school year has been especially difficult. We have seen time and again that funding for public education from Pennsylvania has been less than adequate to keep pace with the rising expenses of providing a quality educational program. In many cases, these rising expenses are due to mandated programs that are imposed upon school districts by state and federal government. Currently, Pennsylvania pays only 37 percent of what it costs to educate students — one of the lowest state shares in the country. When the state share of funding for public education is this low, the financial burden shifts to local taxpayers. If school districts do not receive adequate funding, they are forced to shortchange students by curtailing programs, reducing staff or increasing local taxes for already overburdened residents.
The Incline by SARAH ANNE HUGHES MAY 31 2017 · 11:49 AM
A recent report by the ReadyNation, a business advocacy group aimed at building a skilled workforce, predicts that children growing up in America today will be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. And despite high spending on health care, the U.S. now ranks 27th out of 34 developed countries in terms of life expectancy. Besides impacting our longevity and quality of life, the state of our health is hurting the U.S. economy. Researchers estimate that sick days cost us nearly $260 billion per year. Unpaid medical bills are the leading causes of personal bankruptcy among Americans. With one-in-five Pennsylvania children living in poverty, it is likely that many will become or contribute to statistics such as these.
Controversy continues to swirl over a series of violent incidents that have occurred in the Woodland Hills School District, just outside Pittsburgh. These incidents involve allegations of violence directed against students by the school’s principal and by school-based law enforcement officials. Students have been injured. In one recent case, one of these law enforcement officials allegedly punched a student in the face and nearly knocked the student’s tooth out. An incident last year led to disciplinary action against the principal, but the principal remains at the school and was even hired in April as the school’s varsity football coach. These incidents and the responses so far of administrators and the justice system raise fundamental questions about the role of police in our schools. They provide a textbook example of what is wrong with the way that many districts use police: lack of accountability for officers' actions; inappropriate use of force; failure to respect (and protect) the rights of students; and proposed solutions that may make matters worse.
Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is the senior senator from Massachusetts. She has just launched DeVos Watch, a new initiative to hold the Department of Education accountable. The views expressed are her own.
Thomas Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership