PA Schools Work Urges Immediate Action on School Funding
Calls for Continued Bipartisan Federal and State Action to Keep Students on Track and Address Dire Needs of PA School Districts
HARRISBURG, PA (November 17, 2020) – The statewide education advocacy campaign PA Schools Work issued the following statement on funding for public schools in Pennsylvania in the midst of an ongoing pandemic:
“As Coronavirus cases spike across the commonwealth, school districts are again facing difficult decisions about creating learning environments that are both conducive to educating students and are safe for students, teachers, support staff and administrators.
“Many districts are returning to distance learning to mitigate the community spread of the virus, but this comes with increased costs for districts, even as they continue to deal with shortfalls in local revenue. Earlier estimates showed Pennsylvania school districts could expect to lose upwards of $1 billion as a result of the COVID-driven economic downturn. A second spike in cases could result in even greater losses.
“It has been more than seven months since Congress responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by passing the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Pennsylvania still has $1.3 billion of its CARES funding left. PA Schools Work is calling on the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Wolf to work together to prioritize public school students, teachers, and administrators in immediately distributing the state’s unspent CARES Act pandemic-response money. And PA Schools Work urges leaders in Harrisburg to equitably distribute remaining CARES Act money and any future federal stimulus to the state’s 500 public school districts, either based on districts’ actual costs or through the state’s fair funding formula.
“But we should be clear — school districts’ financial struggles have intensified this year, but they did not start with COVID-19. Looking at the state budget, while lawmakers recognized the need for some financial certainty by level funding school districts for this school year, the funding made available thus far covers just a fraction of the true need in our schools. At best, federal stimulus will be a one-time injection of funds to deliver relief to cover the new costs arising from schooling during COVID and from the economic impact of the pandemic. Those funds will not and should not be used to solve recurring needs. We can’t make a one-time federal payment to solve a longstanding, multi-billion problem in Pennsylvania’s schools.
“It has never been more obvious that state lawmakers must explore larger and more permanent school funding solutions that will likely be further exacerbated in a post-COVID Pennsylvania.”
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 on PA Schools Work, visit paschoolswork.org.