Op-Ed: 13 Pennsylvania School Districts Receive Less Than 50% of their Recommended Level of Basic Education Funding

Citizens for Fair School Funding

“Support Equity First”

Media Contact: Equity First

Info@SupportEquityFirst.org | @EquityFirstOrg

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2017

13 Pennsylvania School Districts Receive Less Than 50% of their Recommended Level of Basic Education Funding

99 School Districts Receive TWICE the Recommended Level of Basic Education Funding

(Harrisburg, PA) – June 8, 2017 – Basic Education Funding is the largest General Fund allocation in the Pennsylvania state budget.  For FY 2017-2018, Governor Wolf has proposed spending $5.995 Billion, an increase of $100 Million or 1.7% over last year.[1] In 2016, Pennsylvania adopted a new Basic Education Funding Formula (BEFF) for the distribution of Basic Education Funding. The adoption of the fair formula and its subsequent scrutiny have revealed one of the most racially-discriminatory government funding programs in the United States.[2] In Pennsylvania, almost one million students are negatively impacted.[3] Likewise in 2014, Pennsylvania adopted a new Special Education Funding Formula (SEFF), which also revealed 34 districts receiving 50% less than the formula’s recommended levels of special education funding.[4]

Presently, thirteen (13) school districts receive less than 50% of their recommended level of basic education funding. $13.97 million dollars is needed to bring these districts to 50% of their recommended level of basic education funding.[5]  With shameful haste, this step should be completed immediately inside the present budget year with a supplemental budget allocation.

Likewise, 93 school districts receive less than 75% of their recommended level of BEFF. It would cost $371,721,741 to bring these districts to 75% of their recommended level of BEFF.  120 districts receive less than 90% of their recommended level of BEFF. It would cost $720,474,938 to bring these 120 districts to 90% of their recommended level of BEFF.[6]  To achieve full funding for districts receiving less than their recommended allocations would be $1,093,343,390.

Horribly, in special education funding 34 districts receive less than 50% of their recommended funding level.  $70,344,508.74 is needed to bring these districts to 50% of their recommended funding level.  Likewise, this step should be completed immediately inside the present budget year with a supplemental budget allocation.

In Pennsylvania, the districts with the most minority students receive much less than their recommended levels of Basic Education Funding.[7]  Special education funding looks far worse with the poorest minority districts severely under-funded.[8]

~~~

In the face of districts receiving less than their recommended levels of funding, unbelievably, 3 School Districts receive more than 500% of their recommended level of basic education funding.  South Side SD, 98% white, is a large district that receives 573.67%, almost $8.5 Million more, every year, then their recommended level of BEFF.[9]

Fifteen (15) school districts receive more than 300% of their recommended level of BEFF, 3 times recommended level. Ninety-nine (99) districts receive more than 200% of their recommended BEFF, TWICE, the annual amount determined by the BEFF. Predominantly, these 99 districts have the largest concentrations of white, non-minority students.[10]

Several studies recognize Pennsylvania’s distribution of basic education funding as the most racially discriminatory funding scheme in the United States. [11] In Pennsylvania, the distribution of special education funding is shamefully worse and needs immediate attention.[12]

Remarkably, Pennsylvania’s education establishment chooses to ignore the past and immediate funding discrimination. While the Governor only proposed $100 Million in new Basic Education Funding in his FY 2017-2018 Budget, all of which would be distributed to under and over funding district, the Campaign for Fair Funding remained silent and restated their solution as,

“State lawmakers must make greater, sustainable investments in students through the new fair funding formula and find the revenues to support them. To fund our schools fairly and adequately, the Campaign for Fair Education Funding urges the state to increase its investment through the fair funding formula by about $3 billion over the next several years. This should include a significant increase in state funding for schools in the 2017-18 budget year.”[13]

Like other organizations in the Pennsylvania education establishment, with the Campaign for Fair Funding, there is zero mention of fixing funding discrimination in basic or special education. Instead, largely because most the voting members of statewide educational organizations are from school districts receiving more than their fair share of the basic and special education funding, these groups are solely asking for $3 Billion more.[14] Even though it took 179 years for Basic education funding to reach $5.9 Billion.[15]

Immediately:
In the current fiscal year, FY2016-2017, a special budget supplemental allocation should be adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor that provides $13.97 Million to the thirteen (13) school districts receiving less than 50% of recommended level of Basic Education funding and $70.35 Million to the thirty-four (34) school district receiving less than 50% of their recommended level of Special Education funding.

Next State Budgets:

In the FY 2017-2018 state budget for Basic Education, the 93 school districts receiving less than 75% of their recommended level of Basic Education funding should immediately receive $371,721,741 to bring them to the 75% level, and likewise for special education funding.

In the FY 2018-2019 state budget for Basic Education, 120 Districts should receive 90% of their recommended level of Basic Education funding, and likewise for special education funding. In FY 2019-2020, all districts should receive 100% of their recommended level of Basic and Special Education Funding.

In conclusion, Pennsylvania’s distribution of basic and special education funding is horribly inequitable and has evolved into racial discrimination. It’s time to immediately fix it.

Kelly Lewis is a former state representative and a co-founder of www.SupportEquityFirst.org 

[1] Higher Education Gets Little in Gov Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget; http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2017/02/07/Higher-education-gets-little-in-Gov-Tom-Wolf-s-Pennsylvania-budget-100-million-more-proposed-for-K-12/stories/201702070159

[2] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[3] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[4] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[5] Basic Education Funding:  http://www.education.pa.gov/teachers%20-%20administrators/school%20finances/education%20budget/pages/default.aspx#tab-1

[6] www.SupportEquityFirst.org

[7] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[8] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

[9] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[10] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[11] Systemic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding, David Mosenkis, POWER, July 2016

[12] The Special Education Funding Commission Report: http://bit.ly/2rNRibx

[13] Campaign for Fair Funding Fact Sheet: http://fairfundingpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CFEF_fact-sht-17-UPDATED.pdf

[14] Campaign for Fair Funding Fact Sheet: http://fairfundingpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CFEF_fact-sht-17-UPDATED.pdf

[15] Governor’s proposed State Budget: http://bit.ly/2r8divL

 


No Replies to "Op-Ed: 13 Pennsylvania School Districts Receive Less Than 50% of their Recommended Level of Basic Education Funding"


    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK