PA School Funding Coalition Supports Increased Investment for Public Schools in State Budget, Says More Work is Needed

HARRISBURG, PA (June 28, 2019) — PA Schools Work, a non-partisan coalition of organizations representing the state’s urban, suburban and rural communities, issued the following statement regarding the 2019-20 PA Budget:

“The governor and legislature negotiated a final state budget agreement that moderately boosts public school funding, a necessary increase for struggling school districts across the commonwealth. PA Schools Work salutes the bi-partisan recognition that Special Education and Career and Technical Education required serious investments.

“The $50 million increase in special education funding for students with disabilities was desperately needed and marks an historic investment—the largest increase for special education to date. This investment will have a tremendously positive impact on local school districts and the students who require special education supports and services to succeed. The $10 million increase for career and technical education, the second in two years after several budgets with flat funding, is a terrific step forward in helping prepare students for the workforce.

“Our coalition of public-school advocates is disappointed that the legislature, though increasing basic education funding by $160 million through the state’s fair funding formula, cut millions from the Governor’s proposal, which puts more pressure on taxpayers to cover the cost of educating their students. At best, this budget keeps many schools from falling further behind, but will likely necessitate local tax increases and does not make adequate progress toward providing districts the funds necessary to provide excellent education to all students.

“In an unartful budgetary sleight of hand aimed at artificially inflating the amount of this year’s increase in education funding, House Republic leaders shifted existing funds from the School Employees’ Social Security line item to the Basic Education Funding.

“Despite the increased investment in public schools this year, Pennsylvania’s share in funding schools is still one of the lowest in the country—despite claims to the contrary, and local taxpayers are still shouldering the heavy and unjust burden of providing most of the funding for public schools. The unjust and indefensible funding gap between wealthy and poor schools is among the widest of all the states. Years of underinvestment by the state has left schools $3 billion short in basic education and more than a $1 billion short in special education.

“The longer that we delay the equitable and adequate funding of our public schools, the more Pennsylvania students – and the Commonwealth – suffer. PA Schools Work and our coalition of educators, administrators, school board members, advocates and parents are committed to redoubling our efforts on behalf of Pennsylvania’s students.  We will continue working to convince lawmakers to find a permanent solution to the state’s chronic school funding problem.

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