Sen. Smucker Applauds New School Funding Formula as Foundation for Fairness

HARRISBURG (June 3, 2016) – Senate Education Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) celebrated today’s bill-signing for a new school funding formula as a “victory for fairness and the future funding of our schools.”

“This is the fulfillment of one of my main legislative priorities and one that advances a bipartisan approach to the challenges of dividing education dollars among 500 school districts each year,” Smucker said.

“Developing a fair funding formula was my number-one legislative priority when I became Chairman of the Senate Education Committee last year, and it is incredibly gratifying to witness the enactment of a unanimously-approved solution that is desperately needed and that will be of great benefit to taxpayers, educators and schoolchildren for years to come.”

Smucker, in particular, saluted the leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, and Rep. Mike Vereb, who led the Basic Education Funding Commission, (BEFC) a bipartisan, bicameral commission charged with developing the data-driven funding formula.  The BEFC, on which Sen. Smucker served, held 15 hearings across the state to draw upon the best and brightest minds and identify the main cost-drivers of educational expenses.

Smucker introduced Senate Bill 910, which codified the recommendations, last June. The language of Senate Bill 910 was ultimately included in House Bill 1552, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf today.

“This new formula, at its heart, is about taking the mystery and chance out of school funding, and matching dollars to needs. It sets objective, common-sense calculations for slicing up the education pie, based upon common-sense principles, such as sending more money to districts with more children, and sending added dollars for children with more complex needs.”

“This formula was 30 years in the making and takes into account the unique needs of every school district and every student to provide a methodology upon which every school district and taxpayer can rely,” Smucker said.

Pennsylvania had been one of only three states without an objective formula for dividing dollars.

“This bill sets a fair base for funding going forward, instead of locking in historical inequities,” Smucker added.

Studies reveal that Pennsylvania has historically had the greatest funding disparities among school districts compared to all 50 states, with some districts spending thousands of dollars more per child than others.

“Today’s enactment will go a long way in healing long-standing inequities in the way we fund our schools,” Smucker said.

“The state has given money out based on population figures from 30 years ago, even though some districts have gained population while others have lost,” Smucker said.

“The disparities in per-pupil spending underscore the reason why we need an objective, data-driven formula, based on the quantifiable factors that drive the cost of education,” he added.

“We saw from the beginning the plight of school districts across Lancaster and the Commonwealth, and recognized the need for a system based on evidence and equity,” Smucker said. “This is a major mission accomplished.”

CONTACT:  Diane McNaughton
dmmcnaughton@pasen.gov
(717) 787-6535