February 6, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wealthy School Districts Reap Benefits
of Governor's Budget Plan
In a replay of previous budgets, Governor's plan shortchanges poorest communities
Governor Corbett's Feb. 5 proposal to add $90 million to Basic Education Funding distributes larger percentage increases to wealthy school districts, shortchanging the state's struggling communities, according to a budget analysis from the Education Law Center.
The Governor's proposal also shortchanges less wealthy districts with a significant number of students with a disability by taking a portion of special education funding targeted directly to school districts and putting it into a statewide fund that typically benefits only a handful of school districts.
"We saw this in 2011 with the massive cuts to basic education and we saw it last year when those cuts were sustained," said Education Law Center Executive Director Rhonda Brownstein. "The poorest communities and schools were hit the hardest. The Governor's latest proposal follows the same script: The rich get richer."
The Governor's proposed distribution of the $90 million increase uses flawed data on community wealth and student enrollment resulting in a greater percentage increase up to six times higher for well-off school districts.
In Berks County, the Reading School District — located in what was recently declared the nation's poorest city — receives a 1 percent basic education funding increase. The Wyomissing Area School District, an affluent suburb of Reading, receives a 6 percent funding increase.
"The positives in the Governor's budget proposal, such as the restoration of funding to early childhood programs, are completely overshadowed by his failure to distribute this increase in K-12 education dollars in an accurate, fair, and transparent manner; and by his shell game with the special education funding." Brownstein said.
The Governor manipulated special education funding, which has been flat-funded for five years, so that nearly $5 million of the money that went directly to schools would now go into a statewide Contingency Fund. The Contingency Fund is typically 1 percent of the special education line item and is used to provide funding for extremely high-need students. While the Contingency Fund has been distributed at a higher percentage in the past, that increase was rarely taken from the existing money going directly to the schools, Brownstein said.
"This is why it's so important that the state adopt accurate, fair, and transparent funding formulas for Basic Education and Special Education dollars," Brownstein added. "A better formula can help shrink massive funding inequities, better identify real costs, and truly benefit students. It's time for the General Assembly to take a close look at how the Governor is distributing this money to their districts," Brownstein said.
View the Basic Education budget spreadsheet online:
View the Special Education budget spreadsheet online:
The Education Law Center is a non-profit legal advocacy organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education.
Education Law Center
Office: 215-238-6970 ext. 334