Statewide Group Calls for More Work to Be Done to Enact and Fully Fund a Fair Education Funding System
HARRISBURG (JUNE 18, 2015) – The Campaign for Fair Education Funding today commended the members of the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) for reaching consensus on a formula that includes many of the critical elements that are necessary to ensure that all students across the state have a chance to succeed no matter where they live.
“This was a tough assignment and we are thankful for the tremendous effort that was put into developing this consensus recommendation,” said Joan Benso, the campaign chair and President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “The recommendation aligns with our campaign’s proposal and we are pleased that the report includes many of the elements that our campaign supports.”
“This is a step in the right direction, but we know that there is more work to be done,” Benso said further. “State lawmakers must now ensure that sufficient resources are invested into a new formula so that every district ultimately has the funds needed to prepare every student to meet Pennsylvania’s academic standards.”
Jim Buckheit, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, noted that the Commission’s recommendations include extra student weights for those living in poverty and for English Language Learners. The Commission also recommends that funding to a school district should be weighted to account for the number of charter students in that district and should be adjusted to address the higher costs incurred by small and geographically dispersed districts. It also calls for a new method for determining school district wealth and taxing capacity to replace the current measures.
“These elements are critical to a sound funding formula and we are pleased that the Commission has included these factors,” said Buckheit, who noted that several campaign members testified before the Commission in its many hearings across the state and that the Campaign briefed Commission members and staff on its own proposal.
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director of the Education Law Center, emphasized that while the Commission’s work is an important step, “Our campaign still must examine the overall impact of the Commission’s proposal and whether it makes significant improvements on the income and racial inequities that our current system of funding has allowed to worsen year after year. A formula must be accompanied by significant new investment. Our campaign also calls on the legislature and the Governor, in this year’s budget negotiations, to close, to the greatest extent possible, the remaining gaps created by reductions in funding for public schools since 2011, which exacerbated funding disparities across school districts.”
The Campaign’s own proposal, based on the real costs of educating students in Pennsylvania, calls for an increased basic education funding investment of $3.6 billion phased in over six to eight years.
The Campaign is made up of more than 50 member organizations representing educators, labor, business leaders, faith-based organizations, child advocates, charter schools, traditional public schools and representatives from rural, urban and growing school districts.