Funding Commission Wraps Up: Baseline County Data

Funding Commission Wraps Up: Baseline County Data

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The Basic Education Funding Commission held a hearing in Pittsburgh on Monday, and according to printed reports it is the final meeting of the Commission as it will release its recommendations in June.  It will be up to the General Assembly and the Governor to then advance any recommendations.

The Commission has taken alot of testimony since holding its first hearing in August of last year.  As the Commission now takes all that testimony into consideration and tries to devise a formula, it is worth taking a look at how state funding is distributed in Allegheny County’s 43 school districts and how things would change if the Commission made one of the following recommendations.  Data was obtained from the PA School Performance Profile page and reflects 2013-14 fiscal year:

1. The state will provide 50% of the respective district’s revenue:  Right now, five districts receive more than 50% of total revenue from state sources (Duquesne, Clairton, South Allegheny, McKeesport, Sto-Rox).  If the Commission recommends a 50% maximum, these districts would have to take cuts.  If the Commission recommends a 50% minimum, then it requires plowing alot of money into the remaining 38 districts in the County to bring them up to 50%.  Of course this requires some type of direct control on local finance because wealthy districts will be able to raise taxes and that will shrink the 50% share, unless the state proposes to annually provide 50% of all revenue, no matter the total from local or other sources.

2. The state will provide a flat dollar amount per pupil that will be the same in all districts:  To achieve equality, the Commission could recommend that the state will provide a fixed per pupil amount and will not take in to consideration local or other sources.  In the 43 districts in Allegheny County, the state funding per pupil ranges from $14k in Duquesne to $2.3k in Quaker Valley.  The average is $5,071 in the County.  Let’s assume that the Commission decides on a per pupil amount of $5,300 statewide.  In the County, that would require 14 districts to receive less than they do currently and would require bringing many districts up on per pupil amounts on money provided from state sources.

3. The state will “hold harmless” and then add on top of that amount: This would keep intact the amount that districts receive per pupil and then add something on top of that, which does not do much to address equality because there would still be districts receiving much more than others as they do know.  For instance, if the state added $2000 per pupil on top of existing amounts, the average in the County would rise to $7,071.