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Pennsylvania schools needed full funding

The Public Interest Law Center deems education funding in PA as inadequate, inequitable and unconstitutional.

Only five states spend less than Pennsylvania for public school funding. The 2015-21 funding increase from Harrisburg was $698 million for K-12. Taking inflation into account, this is a decrease of $101 million.

Schools in PA are funded by: federal (3%), state (38%) and local (59%). PA schools are very reliant on local funding which means school districts with a lower tax base do not have the same funding as schools with a higher base.

In other words, school funding depends on your zip code, a violation of the equal protection provisions of the state constitution.

The gap between high and low wealth school districts in 2018-19 was $4800 per student per year. Why does this matter? More students in poorly funded schools have lower math and reading scores, and college graduation rates.

The PA Legislature has no goal to fully fund public schools. The 1991 “Fair Funding Formula” excludes total funding needed and only looks at relative needs of district; if one district receives more, another district loses. The formula only applies to funding added after 1991, so inequities are locked in.

To remedy this, the Fair Funding Lawsuit trial began Thursday in Commonwealth Court. The respondents/defendants are Gov. Wolf; Acting Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera; House Majority Leader, Bryan Cutler; Senate Majority Leader, Jake Corman and Pennsylvania State Board of Education.

Please write or call your Pennsylvania legislators in support of this lawsuit.

Carol Hodes

State College

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