Fair funding for schools
Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a consistently applied school funding formula, which creates unfairness for students and disparities among school districts across the state. State officials must find an equitable method to distribute state funds for public education so that all students can be better served and have access to high-quality educational programs and services.
Recently, more than 850 educators across Pennsylvania met via video conference at 29 locations on the same night to discuss the need for a fair public school funding formula. Discussions focused on how the Legislature determines the amount and method of basic education funding by using inconsistent criteria. The last true school funding formula, eliminated in 2011, calculated state aid based on a district’s actual costs, which created a more level playing field and a state financial commitment for educating students.
The newly appointed Basic Education Funding Commission is working to create a new school funding formula that is fair, adequate and equitable for all school districts. A new formula must consider changing district demographics, such as population and income changes. Also, the equitable distribution of state funds must consider student poverty levels and district size to close the achievement gap for minority and low-income students so they can graduate ready for careers and/or college.
A fair, predictable and equitable school funding formula will provide Pennsylvania school districts the opportunities and resources to offer a high-quality education for all students regardless of where they live.
William H. Kerr
The writer is Norwin School District’s superintendent and the former superintendent of the Armstrong School District.