Even before COVID-19, the inequity crisis in Pennsylvania was worsening, as mandated costs beyond school districts’ control, like pensions, special education, and charter school tuition increase year after year – at rates much higher than what the state has been willing to cover.
Even with one-time federal relief money, schools will come out of the pandemic worse off financially than before. Without a major investment, school districts will be facing major cuts ahead.
The governor and legislature negotiated a state budget agreement that moderately boosts public school funding, including a $300 million increase in basic education funding, a $50 million increase in special education funding, and no increase in recurring Career and Technical Education. The budget includes a one-time $500 million allocation of federal COVID relief funds to schools, Intermediate Units, career and technical centers, and other programs for COVID-related relief.
Lawmakers also reached agreement on a supplement that stays true to the Fair Funding Formula and targets funds allocated by the formula to 100 lowest wealth school districts in the state. This measure will accelerate the path to adequacy and equity for the 20% of districts that are most underfunded in Pennsylvania.
This budget’s increased investment in public schools does not come close to backfilling the increase in mandated costs to school districts over the last two years, much less the needed investments to offset continued inadequacies in state funding. Despite claims to the contrary, Pennsylvania’s share in funding schools is still one of the lowest in the country and local taxpayers still shoulder the heavy and unjust burden of providing most of the funding for public schools.
Recent census data showed that Pennsylvania dropped from 44th to 45th in the share of district revenue that comes from the state – 6th from the bottom.
Please join us throughout the next budget cycle as we dive deep and advocate together for the students of Pennsylvania. Let’s get to work!
STATEMENT: PA Schools Work on the 2021-22 Budget Agreement
HARRISBURG (June 25 2021) — PA Schools Work, a non-partisan coalition of organizations representing the state’s urban, suburban and rural communities, issued the following statement regarding the 2021-22 PA spending plan:
“Every cent of funding is an essential investment for struggling school districts across the commonwealth still reeling from the impacts of educating PA students throughout the pandemic. – READ MORE