The new Pennsylvania budget gives a $300 million boost to K-12 education, boosts Pa.’s 100 poorest schools

Written by on June 29, 2021

The new Pennsylvania budget gives a $300 million boost to K-12 education, boosts Pa.’s 100 poorest schools

By Katie Meyer

June 29, 2021

FILE – In this July 24, 2020 file photo, Fairfax County Public School buses are lined up at a maintenance facility in Lorton, Va. The Justice Department is highlighting a number of actions school officials should take to increase safety, including improving mental health resources, monitoring social media accounts and improving physical safety measures. The report was released Tuesday and was a culmination of a federal school safety working group. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The budget Pennsylvania lawmakers passed last week includes a $300 million increase for K-12 schools and will give boosts of 10% or more to 35 school districts in every corner of the commonwealth.

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It keeps more than $7 billion from federal stimulus and a state surplus in reserve but does include a novel approach to education funding.

In February, Gov. Tom Wolf pitched a massive overhaul of school funding. He wanted to increase income taxes on high earners and run the entire education budget through a student weighted formula to help needy schools.

There was also pressure from Democrats to use billions in federal stimulus funding to address school infrastructure needs.

Republicans balked at both. The compromise is a $300 million increase with a special boost for the 100 poorest school districts in Pennsylvania.

“It’s a very small gesture in the right direction, but not exactly the right direction,” says David Mosenkis, chair of the statewide education team with the advocacy group Power Interfaith. “It’s good that it’s going to those 100 districts that are most in need, but it’s not getting distributed to them in the most progressive way.

Large urban school districts including Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Erie and Harrisburg will get the biggest share of the new funding though far less than the original Wolf proposal.

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