Ciresi introduces ‘Level Up’ bill to help state’s most underfunded school districts

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, today announced the introduction of legislation (H.B. 1311) to increase Level Up funding to $400 million for fiscal year 2023-2024.

“Our state’s inequitable school funding system has produced severely underfunded school districts where it is a challenge for students to get a good education,” Ciresi said. “The Commonwealth Court ruling this year declaring Pennsylvania’s school funding system unconstitutional is a call to action. We need to act by working to level the playing field for Pennsylvania’s children and ensure that every child has access to a high quality education.

“Level Up has been one of our best tools for reducing inequity in education and ensuring all students have the opportunities to succeed, regardless of zip code. But without additional funding for Level Up, it will take decades or more for our underfunded school districts to reach adequate funding – too long for our children to wait.”

According to Ciresi, Pennsylvania began leveling the playing field in 2016 by providing much-needed resources for public education: the enactment of a weighted formula for Basic Education Funding based on need and gradual increases in state education funding. Level Up has played a key role in providing dedicated funding for the 100 most underfunded school districts since it was implemented in FY 2021-2022 and expanded in 2022-2023.

“Since its inception in 2021, Level Up has helped 1.6 million Pennsylvania households and approximately 109,000 children, providing safer and healthier learning environments, expanded academic opportunities, better access to technology, and more,” Ciresi said. “I introduced this legislation to expand our progress in these high-risk communities by increasing Level Up funding to $400 million for FY 2023-2024. This investment would help meet the state’s obligations to all of our children, provide relief to communities that have pushed their local tax bases to their limit, and strengthen our future workforce, communities, and potential. We need to make sure this investment continues in our next state budget.”