Fair Funding For Schools Wins Out with New Equitable Formula

HARRISBURG – Voting to support Pennsylvania students and schools, the House passed legislation to implement the bipartisan and fair Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) formula, which has the support of education advocates and school boards across the state, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) said Wednesday.

The vote count was 149-45. The Fiscal Code, House Bill 1589, now heads to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

“It’s time to end the distress and hardship our schools, parents, teachers and students have been put through with an incomplete budget,” Reed said. “With this bill and a strong bipartisan vote, we are finally bringing fairness and equity to our public schools through the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission formula.”

According to Reed, the legislation, known as the Fiscal Code, directs all new state money for the current 2015-16 school year to be allocated to districts using the BEFC formula.

It also authorizes the release of state reimbursements to school districts under what’s called the state Planning and Construction Workbook, otherwise known as PlanCon. School districts budgeted these reimbursements, and the various vetoes have created budget holes for many districts.

Reed said the state budget approved by the Legislature in March included an additional $200 million in Basic Education funding and more than $350 million in PlanCon reimbursements. The language to implement the new Basic Education funding formula and authorize the PlanCon reimbursements was contained in House Bill 1327, the Fiscal Code, which the governor vetoed.

The BEFC formula was agreed to by all five bodies represented in the commission, including the governor’s office. In fact, Wolf praised the formula calling it a “big step forward for the people of Pennsylvania and for our education system.”

School funding advocates, including the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and the School District of the City of Philadelphia all praised the fairness of the new BEFC formula.

“Every student counts, every school counts, and our school districts deserve consistency as well as a fair funding formula, and the House and Senate, in a bipartisan manner, are working together to get that done,” Reed said.

“Three times previously, the BEFC formula went in front of the governor for his signature. He vetoed the legislation, ignoring the pleas of every district in the state. We urge the governor to sign this bill.”

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