Tom Wolf is out with a new release this morning promising that he’ll make a fair education funding formula a top priority, and this assessment of the problem elsewhere on his website shows that he really gets it:
Governor Corbett’s funding cuts have removed more than 20,000 teachers from the classroom, caused 70% of school districts to increase class sizes, led 19 school districts to eliminate full-day kindergarten, left 56% of students without access to a full-time librarian, and forced communities all across the state to raise property taxes.
And the state’s funding system — or lack thereof — creates winners and losers depending on the income levels of individual school districts and the ability of state legislative delegations to bring education funds back to their districts.
The combination of funding inequities and Governor Corbett slashing education funding have led many local communities to become increasingly reliant on raising property taxes, which adds an additional burden on seniors on a fixed income and hard-working Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the entire country that does not use a funding formula for distributing state education dollars to local school districts, and is far below the national average in terms of percentage of state funding — contributing only 32%.
According to the Education Law Center, this had led to a large funding inequality where on an annual average, high-poverty schools spend “$3,000 less per student compared to wealthy schools. This adds up to a funding gap of $75,000 per classroom of 25 students.”
The focus on pre-K is great, but let’s take a step back here and remember that PA schools aren’t even required to have Kindergarten!