Paid Advertisement
view counter

Stories tagged: Theme articles

So the charter funding formula is unfair – but to whom?


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 11:36 AM

With education funds scarce in the commonwealth, the debate over how charter schools get their money has never been more polarized.

The stakes are huge: Last school year, 176 charter schools educated 129,000 students statewide, at a cost to Pennsylvania school districts of more than $1.2 billion. About half those schools and students are located in Philadelphia; they consume 30 percent of the District’s operating budget.

Charter schools are independently run public schools paid for by tax dollars, authorized and primarily funded by the school districts from which their students come. Districts send charters a per-student payment, based on a state-established formula.

Cybers get the same as brick-and-mortar schools


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 11:35 AM

Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters enroll more than 36,000 students. Their model is very different from that of school districts – students learn at home via computer and generally don’t go to a physical location. But they are paid based on school district costs, not their actual expenses. In a 2012 report, Auditor General Jack Wagner said that Pennsylvania cybers were getting $105 million more than the national average for cyber spending.

State's special education funding rules are slow to change


Dan Hardy

on Oct 20, 2014 11:36 AM

Pennsylvania’s special education funding system is complicated and in flux. But it has generally discouraged districts from identifying too many special education students while rewarding charters that do so.

Without a formula, Pa. allocations lack logic, predictability


Dale Mezzacappa

on Oct 2, 2014 09:40 AM

The point of a state education funding formula is to be fair, help all districts reach spending levels adequate to their needs, and adjust for demographic and other changes. Funding should be predictable so that districts can plan.

But Pennsylvania long ago abandoned such a system for distributing education aid, according to advocates and experts. And this has exacerbated inequities among districts and frustrated educators.

A look back: How Pennsylvania has distributed money for education since the 1960s

By the Notebook on Oct 2, 2014 09:39 AM


There were 2,277 school districts in Pennsylvania. Under Gov. William W. Scranton, a series of consolidations reduced the number of districts to fewer than 700 (it fell to 505 by the late 1970s).

What is a state education funding formula?


Dale Mezzacappa

on Oct 2, 2014 09:37 AM

Although most education funding comes from local sources, all states contribute to school district costs, compensating for differences in property wealth, income levels, and taxing capacity among districts. Most states have a formula that guides how the aid is distributed among districts, based on factors such as enrollment, local wealth, and student characteristics.

Ideally, formulas are designed to make sure all districts have adequate funds and increase equity among districts. The particulars of each formula differ, but normally, richer districts get less state aid, while poorer districts depend on the state for much of their education money.

Answers to common questions on Philly funding needs


Paul Jablow

on Sep 26, 2014 09:33 AM

Doesn’t Philadelphia get a huge share of state education aid already?

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made the point when he met with District Superintendent William Hite in August that the city has 12 percent of the state’s school population but receives 18 percent of the state’s basic education subsidy. But Matthew Stanski, Hite’s finance director, says that these numbers alone don’t capture the reality. He gives several reasons. First, Pennsylvania chips in a smaller share of education funding than most other states, so there is less state aid to balance out inequities between districts. But more important, he said, Philadelphia educates more children from low-income backgrounds than any other district. More than 80 percent of Philadelphia students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, almost twice the statewide average of 43 percent. Such a high concentration of poverty comes with added costs to a school district.

'Crushing' school taxes


Connie Langland

on Sep 25, 2014 11:23 AM

If Gwenevere Washington and her husband lived in the Marple-Newtown School District in the western suburbs, whose property tax rate is the lowest in their county, the school tax bill that arrived in their mailbox midsummer would have totaled about $1,700, even less with the state discount given to senior citizens.

But the Washingtons own a home in Yeadon, a borough less than 10 miles away, down Darby Creek. It is one of six communities that make up the William Penn School District in Delaware County.

The tax bill that arrived in July hit like a hammer. It was $4,000 for the year, less a $400 discount.

Wolf and Corbett square off on school funding - Corbett

By the Notebook on Sep 24, 2014 12:00 PM

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, is running for re-election against challenger Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Nov. 4.

To translate the jargon, check out this glossary


Paul Jablow

on Sep 24, 2014 12:43 PM

Read the latest print issue


Philly Ed Feed

Become a Notebook member



Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy