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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 6, 2015 11:42 AM
From: Representative James R. Roebuck, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Governor Wolf's Public School Code Legislation
 
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation amending the Public School Code of 1949 as a key component of Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 General Fund budget package.

Our Commonwealth’s future is dependent on ensuring that every child has an opportunity to receive a quality education that will prepare them for future success in a modern global economy. Education should not be exclusive and the availability of quality education programs should not be defined by a student’s socio-economic background or his or her family’s ZIP code.

Governor Wolf understands that we must fairly and adequately fund public education programs in the Commonwealth to achieve this goal. The 2015-2016 General Fund budget will pave the way for our Commonwealth to fulfill its responsibility to provide education funding to all students, while also requiring our schools to demonstrate they are using State funds appropriately and to showcase how students are developing the skills they need to succeed in the workforce following graduation.

To accomplish these goals, the 2015-2016 General Appropriations bill will include bold, new investments in education. Specifically, the Governor has earmarked a $400 million dollar increase in the Basic Education Subsidy - the largest in Pennsylvania history – to restore the Accountability Block Grant and Educational Assistance Program funds that were cut under the Corbett Administration. Under this plan, school districts would receive reimbursement for approximately 10 percent of their mandatory charter school tuition payments. Also, additional resources would be made available to help close the funding gap that resulted from cuts in the Basic Education Subsidy dating back to the 2010-11 school year.

The 2015-2016 General Appropriations bill will also include a $100 million increase in the Special Education Subsidy to further Pennsylvania’s transition to the formula enacted in 2014, which was made possible through the hard work of the bipartisan legislative Special Education Funding Commission. My legislation incorporates that formula as a permanent component of the Public School Code – our State’s premier education law. Finally, my legislation increases funding for special education services provided through our Commonwealth’s Intermediate Units.

In addition to these historic investments, my legislation amends the Public School Code to promote accountability in education by establishing accountability provisions that will ensure the public’s return on investment in education and maximize the impact of new education funding in a way that will foster student achievement by rewarding school districts with increases in Basic Education funding in exchange for their investment in evidence-based programs.

Finally, my legislation would ensure fairness in funding cyber charter schools by creating a funding formula for cyber charter schools that addresses regular education tuition rates and special education tuition rates – the new regular education tuition of $5,950 is based on the highest-cost of several high-performing, comparable Intermediate Unit online education programs and is bolstered by 10 percent to reflect administrative and overhead costs that cyber charter schools reasonably incur. The rate would be adjusted for inflation on an annual basis. The special education tuition rate applies the formula recommended by the Special Education Funding Commission to cyber charter schools.

Making bold investments in public education and special education programs and promoting fairness and accountability in education spending is critical to ensuring Pennsylvania is fulfilling its responsibility to educate our students today so that they are prepared to compete in the global marketplace of tomorrow.

Join me in supporting this legislation to invest in our children and our future.



Introduced as HB1143