Last week, I offered an amendment to HB1552 that will bring greater fairness to school funding throughout Pennsylvania – ensuring all our schools and students have access to a quality education. I was proud to help advance the work of policy makers and education advocates by offering legislation that included the Basic Education Funding (BEF) Commission fair funding formula.
The state Senate overwhelmingly approved House Bill 1552, with my amendment, to make permanent a fair funding formula established by a bipartisan commission. The bill is now awaiting action in the House of Representatives.
The formula was created by a 15-member bipartisan BEF Commission. The commission held 15 hearings over 11 months and heard from more than 110 individuals including superintendents, school board presidents, business leaders, nonprofit organizations and parents before making their recommendations.
The formula it developed will provide a more consistent and predictable indication of the amount of state funding a school district will receive each year based on a funding ratio, determined by a transparent set of factors, from the total state spending on education.
Making this formula permanent is vital because it will remove politics from state school funding decisions, directing money to school districts based on objective and transparent factors, such as student enrollment, the needs of the student population, school district wealth and capacity to raise local revenue.
This ensures that in addition to funding education adequately, we are also accountable for the way those tax dollars are spent. This is a crucial goal, and one that I have been working toward with education advocates. We want to ensure that the money Pennsylvanians pay is distributed fairly throughout the state – based on hard data and not political whims.
Pennsylvania now has a bipartisan, Basic Education Funding formula for K-12 that recognizes poverty, personal income, home values, number of students, and fairness. We need to make the formula permanent so that our schools have fair and predictable funding they need to best serve students in our communities. The hard work has been done and we have reached consensus on this important issue. The time to enact a fair funding formula is here.
Media Contact: Michael Stoll