State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Schools advocates attempt to highlight lack of funding formula

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 22, 2013 10:07 PM

In Harrisburg, legislators might be abuzz about picking over the scraps of the governor's legislative agenda, but education advocates are trying to get the attention squarely on public schools and how they're funded.

"The Pennsylvania Legislature is returning to work and fixing the issue of school funding does not appear to be on their priority list," said Susan Gobresk, head of the advocacy group Education Voters of Pennsylvania. The group is holding a press conference at the Capitol Monday morning welcoming lawmakers back to Harrisburg for the fall session with a reminder that they need more money.

"It's a top priority for the people of Pennsylvania so the focus is around making it clear that we believe they have work to do and that this needs to be a priority," Gobreski said. She expects about 40 school districts to be represented at Monday's event, and says many more have signed a petition urging lawmakers to take up education funding issues this fall.

State funding for schools increased slightly in the current budget year, but those dollars didn't make up for the overall cuts in the past two years under Gov. Corbett.

Another problem is that the funding wasn't doled out according to a formula developed by the Legislature in 2008. As a result, Corbett administration officials and lawmakers that cuts have been disproportionately larger for poorer school districts, because they rely on the state more to meet their budgets.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania is calling for a return to a funding formula for schools. She said funding divvied up according to such a manual would help schools fulfill their mission.

"It will also mean we stop taking so much time going back and forth about this every year," Gobreski said. "At some point, we have a lot of things to do and there are a lot of policy priorities, and by implementing a state funding formula and adequately allocating to it, we actually will create more time to address some of Pennsylvania's other priorities."


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