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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 19, 2015 01:49 PM
From: Senator Lloyd K. Smucker and Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman, Sen. Patrick M. Browne, Sen. Mike Folmer, Sen. Jay Costa, Sen. Rob Teplitz
To: All Senate members
Subject: Codifying the Basic Education Funding Commission’s School Funding Formula
 
Please join us in cosponsoring legislation to place into law the school funding formula developed over the past year by the Basic Education Funding Commission.

This bipartisan, bicameral commission was created with the passage of House Bill 1738, which became Act 51 of 2014. Chaired by Sen. Pat Browne and Rep. Mike Vereb, the 15-member commission was tasked with developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new, more equitable formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania’s students and 500 school districts. In 2014-2015, approximately $5.52 billion was distributed to 500 school districts through the basic education funding line-item.

The commission held 15 hearings across the state, gathering testimony and information from a wide range of experts in the education field, before making its recommendations to the Legislature. Funding mechanisms were examined in other states, along with the history of school funding in Pennsylvania, the link between per-pupil spending and academic proficiency, and other facets of this complex issue.

After months of work, the commission has reached a consensus and released its recommendations, which must now be approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.

The recommendations hold that funding should be based upon the many objective factors that drive the cost of education, including student enrollment, the percentage of students with special needs, the proportion of English language learners, the number of students living in poverty, the sparsity of the district’s population, and other factors.

While the development of this formula is a key first step, important decisions still must be made through the budget process on the total amount of dollars spent on education, when the new formula will first apply, and how to transition from the old paradigm to the new platform.

We would appreciate your support for the commission’s important work in reaching this first step, in crafting a fair, equitable, transparent and predictable formula. Thank you for your consideration.



Introduced as SB910