School District Profiles along with recent Commonwealth Court decision demonstrate funding crisis requires immediate attention
HARRISBURG, PA (April 4, 2023) — Funding from the state is not keeping up with rising mandated costs and increases in instructional costs for virtually every school district across Pennsylvania – this according to recently released 2023 School District Fact Sheets, which provide information on state and local funding of public schools. The fact sheets were released by PA Schools Work, a nonpartisan statewide movement working to make sure public schools are fully and fairly funded.
As the fact sheets show, school districts are struggling with increased costs while the state legislature is consistently not doing its part. More than five out of six school districts (84%) are not adequately funded due in large part to the lack of sufficient state support for K-12 education. And virtually every school district (490 out of 500, or 98%) has raised local property taxes to make up for Harrisburg’s failure to live up to its responsibilities to our children and our state’s future. Depending on the federal data source, Pennsylvania is between the 43rd and 45th lowest state when it comes to the share of district revenue that comes from the state.
According to the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) December 2022 Annual School District Budget Report, mandated costs for charter school tuition, special education, and pension funding have increased by roughly $6.5 billion in the last decade while state funding supporting those costs grew by only $2.8 billion. As a result, local taxpayers are increasingly carrying the burden of these costs. These mandated, unfunded costs divert resources from those students with the most unmet instructional needs.
With an historic Commonwealth Court ruling declaring the school funding system in Pennsylvania to be unconstitutional and at least $12 billion available in state surplus and reserves, this year offers a rare opportunity to present a budget that does more than keep up with inflation and helps dig school districts out of a massive funding deficit.
The new school district fact sheets, individualized for all 500 school districts, include data on state and local funding, special education funding, charter school payments, the property tax burden on local taxpayers, and the amount the districts would get from the state if our schools were fully and adequately funded, calculated using research from the Public Interest Law Center.
PA Schools Work is a non-partisan coalition of organizations from across Pennsylvania representing teachers and other educators; urban, suburban, and rural communities; and parents and community members working together to advocate for PA public schools, their students, and the communities they serve.
For more information, go to the PA Schools Work Fact Sheets or visit paschoolswork.org.