Be care­ful fix­ing ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - OPINION -

To the Times:

Your re­cent ed­i­to­rial, “The cold, hard re­al­ity of ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing in Pa,” was spot-on in as­sess­ing the prob­lems with ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia – un­til its sug­gested so­lu­tion to im­me­di­ately re­dis­tribute all state ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing through the state’s new school fund­ing formula.

That “so­lu­tion” would re­quire a mas­sive re­dis­tri­bu­tion of ex­ist­ing dol­lars, slash­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from

357 school dis­tricts that ed­u­cate nearly 813,000 stu­dents statewide. Ac­cord­ing to the Penn­syl­va­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of School Busi­ness Of­fi­cials (the ones who must bal­ance school bud­gets), the av­er­age cut would amount to

$42,000 per class­room, re­quir­ing school dis­tricts to cut their al­ready tight bud­gets by an­other 10 per­cent. Among those get­ting a wind­fall: school dis­tricts like Lower Me­rion, one of the wealth­i­est com­mu­ni­ties in the state, which al­ready spends about $25,000 per stu­dent, more than twice what some of the los­ing dis­tricts have to spend.

The bot­tom line is that Penn­syl­va­nia’s pub­lic schools need more state fund­ing, pe­riod. Shrink­ing slices of a pie that’s too small to make big­ger slices for oth­ers sim­ply re­dis­tributes the pain. The only so­lu­tion is grow­ing the pie, in­creas­ing state fund­ing so all stu­dents in ev­ery school dis­trict get the re­sources they need.

Aside from the pol­icy flaws in your ed­i­to­rial’s “so­lu­tion,” it’s sim­ply not po­lit­i­cally vi­able. Can we ex­pect the leg­is­la­tors who rep­re­sent 357 of the state’s 500 school dis­tricts to stand for such dra­matic cuts to their own schools? To coin a phrase from your ed­i­to­rial, “For some rea­son we don’t see that hap­pen­ing.”

Su­san Spicka, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Ed­u­ca­tion Vot­ers of PA

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