Ciresi outlines plan to relieve school cost pressures, lower property taxes

ROYERSFORD, June 7 – A long-time advocate for a strong public school system, state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, joined other legislators, school superintendents and board members, and education advocates on Monday to advocate for charter school and school funding reform to stem property tax increases in Pennsylvania.

Ciresi is proposing relieving cost pressures on public schools and lowering property taxes through changes in how school funding is distributed, reforming the charter school law, and making a significant one-time investment toward school pension liabilities.

Ciresi has introduced legislation to give public schools the support they need and provide meaningful property tax relief:

According to Ciresi, if these two bills were enacted and the savings directed toward lowering property taxes, taxes would be reduced by $272 per household for the Perkiomen Valley School District, $279 for the Spring-Ford Area School District, $183 for the Pottsgrove School District, and $6,993 for the Pottstown School District.

According to the school advocacy group Children First, which organized Monday’s event, charter school fees are projected to increase by $1.7 billion over the next three years. Charter school fees are required to be paid by local school districts and are the fastest growing cost in the state’s education system, driving up property taxes.

“The current law that determines charter school funding is broken and we need to fix it,” Ciresi said. “Right now, taxpayers are dramatically overpaying for charter schools where there is no oversight over how their money is spent. Communities should not and financially cannot—especially given rising inflation—continue to shoulder increasing overpayments to charter schools at the expense of our public school system.”

In addition to paying for charter school fees, school districts are also facing rising costs for special education services and payments into the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

Ciresi has also called on the legislature to use the state budget surplus this year to make a $1-billion one-time payment towards the state PSERS liability, which would net savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in subsequent years by reducing public employer payments.

“Now’s the time to be fiscally responsible and make a one-time investment to reduce pension liability and save taxpayers money years to come,” Ciresi said.