PSEA President: It's time for a fair funding formula
Testifying before the General Assembly's Basic Education Funding Commission at a Dec. 10 hearing, PSEA president Mike Crossey thanked commission members for making basic education funding a priority and pledged to work with them to turn the page from framing the problem and start talking about the specifics of a solution.
Crossey testified on behalf of PSEA's 180,000 members to share a number of specific ideas for components of a fair funding formula. Find a copy of his testimony at www.psea.org/testimony.
"A fair formula needs to use data that is accurate, reliable, verifiable, and as current as possible," Crossey said. "We must do our best to account for key factors that can challenge a child's ability to meet academic standards and reflect the shared partnership in supporting public schools."
Crossey's testimony proposed that a fair funding formula include the following components.
- Accurate student counts. To allow a formula to account for expanding and contracting student enrollment.
- Augmented student counts for poverty and English language learners. To recognize the unique needs of students who are in poverty or who do not speak English.
- Adjustments for poverty concentration. To recognize the challenges of school districts with severe poverty and large numbers of students living in poverty.
- Assistance with charter school expenses. To account for the costs school districts incur paying tuition to charter and cyber charter schools.
- Adjustments for small and sparse school districts. To recognize the challenges small and sparse school districts face because they do not have economies of scale.
- Accurate measures of local wealth and tax effort. To ensure that appropriate measures are used to provide an accurate picture of a school district's ability to cover its share of costs.
"The need for basic education funding reform is urgent," Crossey said. "I am pleased to work with this commission to achieve that reform and look forward to working with the commission members to develop a formula that meets the needs of Pennsylvania's students."
Learn more about funding for Pennsylvania's public schools at www.psea.org/funding.