Rising mandated costs are an increasing problem for school districts across Pennsylvania, and funding from the state is not keeping up with costs. The PA Schools Work campaign this week released our updated 2021 school district fact sheets, which provide information on state and local funding of public schools by district.
As the fact sheets show, school districts are struggling with increased costs while year after year the state legislature is not doing its part. Six out of seven school districts are not adequately funded because of the lack of state support for K-12 education. And virtually every school district (98%) has raised local property taxes to make up for Harrisburg’s failure to live up to its responsibilities to our children and our state’s future.
PA Drops to 45th in the Nation in State Funding for Public Schools
In a related update, new census data just out reinforces the concerns raised by the district fact sheets: Pennsylvania has dropped from 44th to 45th in the share of district revenue that comes from the state – 6th from the bottom. As far as the overall percentage of revenue coming from the state, Pennsylvania has dropped to 37.9%. Overall, the U.S. average is 47% of revenue coming from the state to local school districts. In the current year, while state funding for schools was flat, PA school districts were forced to cover mandated costs that spiked by $665 million. They will be faced with another mandated cost increase of $485 million next school year for a two-year increase of $1.15 billion. This is on top of the increased costs to school districts due to COVID-19-related expenses to educate students and keep them safe during the pandemic.
Now is the Time to Engage: Tools for Education Advocates
June is crunch time for school funding in Pennsylvania. We hope you will contact your legislators and ask them to make a genuine commitment to public education by increasing K-12 funding by AT LEAST $1.15 billion — the number mentioned above that represents the increase in mandated costs to school district for this school year and next.
Also, remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for continuing updates, and visit our website for district-specific information and other archived materials. Here are some resources that we hope will be helpful in your advocacy for public schools: