Basic Education Funding Commission releases new funding formula, recommendations

HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said a proposed new bipartisan funding formula that he helped to create as a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission is a step forward in the process to equitably fund education in Pennsylvania.

“The first order of business should be for Pennsylvania to restore the deep basic education cuts that were made under former Governor Tom Corbett and then begin the process set forward in this new funding formula to bring equity, accountability, transparency and predictability to the process,” said Sturla, Democratic Policy Committee chairman.

“The recommended Basic Education Funding Formula is a direct result of a bipartisan commitment to invest in one of Pennsylvania’s most valuable asset, our kids. Thanks to the commission members' hard work, cooperation and willingness to compromise, the formula will serve all students into the future. The formula, unanimously approved by the commission today, provides schools with an equitable distribution of state funding that coupled with additional funding should meet the needs to educate students in all districts.

”Because cuts made by the previous administration were not done in a formulaic method, it would be nearly impossible to restore that funding through a formula,” Sturla said. “That is why it is important that we first adopt Governor Tom Wolf’s $400 million school funding restoration and help students in the poorest rural and urban school districts to catch up to 2010 funding levels.”

The commission used a representative sample of school districts across Pennsylvania to determine their costs for various factors to be used as a guide in developing the new formula. Factors including student needs; median household income, which measures a school districts’ median household income compared to the statewide median household income; tax capacity that recognizes a school district's ability to generate local tax-related revenue compared to the statewide median; student counts; English language learners; and poverty are part of the formula.  

“Another crucial new factor included goes beyond accounting for the percentage of poor students to adjust for the level and concentration of poverty in a district, and recognizes that students living in area where poverty is concentrated have additional educational needs.

“The current lack of a permanent funding formula for education in Pennsylvania has led to an unbalanced distribution funding to school districts and has failed to meet the educations needs of students in many parts of the state.

“Pennsylvania didn’t become the most inequitable state for funding education overnight and this will not correct that situation overnight either,” Sturla said. “I believe this new funding formula will, however, over time, meet the Pennsylvania Constitution’s requirement for providing a thorough and efficient education system.”

The report now moves to the General Assembly for consideration.