Governor wants to push more money through formula
In an speech delivered this week celebrating the passage of the 2019-20 state budget the governor made an observation that if basic education funding continues to be delivered in the manner it has since 2015-16 it ” it’s going to take a long, long time.”
The “it” would be the end to hold harmless funding distribution. That represents the buildup of money until the creation of the student-weighted formula through Act 35 of 2016. As a political compromise, new basic education money flows through the formula while the hold harmless piece stays intact. In 2019-20 $5.556 billion in hold harmless money towers over the $0.698 billion in Act 35 money, an 8 to 1 ratio. In Allegheny County’s school districts the figures are $445.7 million in hold harmless to $42.6 million in Act 35 dollars for 2019-20.
Much like when the commission that crafted the formula noted that moving all the money through the new formula would take basic education dollars from 320 districts and move it to the other 180, more recent attempts by the districts that stand to gain have not gained traction in the General Assembly.
So the arrangement continues this year, which is a detriment to the effort to stop rewarding school districts for enrollment declines.