Resources: School Funding Formula

School Funding Formula

Fair School Funding

  • Education Law Center executive director Deborah Gordon Klehr presented testimony on Pennsylvania school funding policy to the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee on September 1, 2021.

    Klehr’s testimony on behalf of ELC emphasized that “to serve all children, our system must achieve both adequacy and equity. Simply put we must both grow the pie and distribute the funds to the school districts and students with the greatest need.” She explained, “The legislature must be committed to the goals of both adequacy and equity through robust, predictable long-term funding to meet the needs of students based on concrete adequacy targets…. Without an adequate state contribution, there aren’t enough resources in low-wealth districts to achieve equity across the state.”

    The testimony highlights the shortchanging of Black and Latinx students, who are concentrated in low-wealth school districts and are deprived of educational opportunities as a result. It also addresses the need to reform funding policies for cyber charter schools, for special education in charter schools, and for special education overall.

    Read the testimony here.

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  • In a statement on the Pennsylvania budget, ELC welcomes the news from the General Assembly that state funding for basic education, special education, and pre-K in the coming school year will not be reduced from current levels, despite the dropoff in state revenues. Schools are already facing substantial decreases in revenue from local sources due to the economic downturn – as well as added costs associated with COVID-19 and the shift to remote learning. The state must promptly find ways to provide additional support to the struggling, underfunded school districts whose students have been hardest hit by this crisis. Read the full statement here.

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  • Research for Action and the Education Law Center have released a new report that presents simple solutions to making Pennsylvania’s special education funding more equitable and adequate.

    As the state legislature’s reconvened Special Education Funding Commission develops recommendations for how to fairly fund the education of students with disabilities, this analysis suggests that:

    • Pennsylvania align its Special Education Funding (SEF) formula with the formula adopted by the state in 2016 for distributing Basic Education Funding (BEF); and
    • The state should increase the amount of dollars distributed through the updated formula.

    Both the SEF formula (adopted in 2014) and BEF formula (adopted in 2016) apportion state aid similarly, based on both student and district characteristics. But the commission charged with developing the BEF formula determined that newer metrics would more accurately measure each school district’s wealth and tax effort. These newer metrics in the BEF tend to allocate greater resources to districts with higher proportions of historically disadvantaged student groups, including students receiving free or reduced lunch and students of color. The RFA-ELC report recommends that the Special Education Funding Commission incorporate these metrics in any proposed update to the SEF formula. Read the report here.

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  • March, 2017

    The Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees that children across the state have access to a “thorough and efficient” system of public education, one that enables them to meet comprehensive state academic standards and graduation requirements. Despite this constitutional mandate, hundreds of thousands of children—particularly children of color and children in poorer communities—are denied the school resources they need to be successful in school and beyond. This Education Law Center report details the race and class inequities in Pennsylvania’s school funding system, building on ELC’s 2013 report “Funding, Formulas, and Fairness.”

    Download the full report, “Money Matters in Education Justice.”

    Download the Executive Summary.

    Read our press release.

     

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  • The Special Education Funding Commission held public hearings throughout the state in 2013, receiving testimony from dozens of witnesses. Students, parents, educators, and national experts uniformly emphasized the long-term impact of the state funding system on the ability of schools to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

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  • Most of the law on school funding in Pennsylvania is found in the annual state budget, which is adopted by the General Assembly around June 30th of each year for the next fiscal year (which begins July 1).

     

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  • An ELC Fact Sheet published in November 2011 detailing the history of public school funding approaches in Pennsylvania.

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  • Strong public schools are important for creating a successful future for both individuals and whole communities. Formula proposals or state budgets affecting education funding should be evaluated based on the following ten criteria. Any proposal or budget that fails to meet these criteria will not serve the interests of all students, especially disadvantaged students, and should not be adopted.

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  • The 2009 report, Costing Out the Resources Needed to Meet Pennsylvania’s Education Goals for Students with Disabilities, identifies and evaluates Special Education solutions based on Pennsylvania’s 2007 Education Cost Study and examines why it is critically important for the state to implement a funding system for students with disabilities.

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School Funding Formula

Equal Access

  • In a statement on the Pennsylvania budget, ELC welcomes the news from the General Assembly that state funding for basic education, special education, and pre-K in the coming school year will not be reduced from current levels, despite the dropoff in state revenues. Schools are already facing substantial decreases in revenue from local sources due to the economic downturn – as well as added costs associated with COVID-19 and the shift to remote learning. The state must promptly find ways to provide additional support to the struggling, underfunded school districts whose students have been hardest hit by this crisis. Read the full statement here.

    Download PDF

School Funding Formula

School to Prison Pipeline