August 21, 2014
HARRISBURG – When it comes to sticky policy issues, none quite matches the perennial debate over school funding.
Few, if any, school districts think state funding is adequate, and many poorer school districts – including Philadelphia – believe their allocations fail to match their special needs, and thus cuts end up being even more harmful.
A new, 15-member commission is charged with finding a way to solve that vexing problem, despite limited revenue and the general aversion to statewide tax hikes.
The Basic Education Funding Commission, a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers and Corbett administration officials, held its first hearing Wednesday.
The goal of the commission, created by legislation signed by Gov. Corbett in June, is to design a fair and predictable formula for distributing state funding to school districts.
Key to the shaping of the formula is consideration of the wide spectrum of demographic difference across the commonwealth’s 500 school districts, including incomes, local taxes, costs, and enrollment, the commission said.
“In a single word, this commission is about fairness,” said the commission chairman, Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery). “We recognize tax dollars are a limited resource, and our responsibility is to find the best way to use the dollars that are available.”