Thursday, September 10, 2015

Report Highlights Need for Fair School Funding

Andrea Sears, Public News Service

According to a new report, Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between rich and poor school districts in the country. Credit: Campaign for Fair Education Funding.
According to a new report, Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between rich and poor school districts in the country. Credit: Campaign for Fair Education Funding.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – A new report from the Campaign for Fair Education Funding says a failure to restore state education funding and implement a new funding formula will only increase the achievement gap between rich and poor districts.

The report says Pennsylvania must adopt Governor Tom Wolf's proposed school budget to help public schools begin recovering from past budget cuts.

Campaign spokesperson Charlie Lyons says achieving fair and adequate funding could take $3.6 billion over six to eight years.

"That's why we're looking at this opportunity to invest $410 million this year as the start of a multi-year investment that we hope the Legislature and the governor would pursue," he says.

The state budget impasse in Harrisburg has meant the school year has started without any state money in place for education.

The campaign report also says the Legislature needs to implement the funding formula unanimously approved by the bipartisan Education Funding Commission. Lyons points out some differences, such as poverty levels and the number of English-language learners in a district, can affect the cost of education.

"Factors like the wealth of the district, the tax base, the ability of a local district to raise money through property taxes," he says.

According to the report, Pennsylvania has the widest funding gap between rich and poor school districts of any state in the country, and fundamental changes in distribution are needed if every child is to have access to a quality education.

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