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Answers to common questions on Philly funding needs


Paul Jablow

on Sep 26, 2014 10:33 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 12:23 PM

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.

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


Dan Hardy

on Sep 24, 2014 01:24 PM

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.

Cybers get the same as brick-and-mortar schools


Dan Hardy

on Sep 24, 2014 01:27 PM

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 Sep 24, 2014 01:29 PM

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.

Until this year, state special education funding for school districts assumed that 16 percent of their students had special needs, allocating money based on that percentage of total enrollment.

Wolf and Corbett square off on school funding - Corbett

By the Notebook on Sep 24, 2014 01:00 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 01:43 PM

What is a state education funding formula?


Dale Mezzacappa

on Sep 24, 2014 12:11 PM

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.

What is a ‘millage rate’?


Connie Langland

on Sep 24, 2014 12:27 PM

Millage is a relatively obscure term that represents the tax rate levied on real estate or other property. The millage rate is the number of dollars of tax assessed for each $1,000 of property. A rate of 10 mills means that $10 in tax is levied on every $1,000 in assessed value.

A school district typically will set the millage rate each spring as it calculates what it needs to fund its final budget. Some years, the rate stays the same; other years, there’s an increase.

Wolf and Corbett square off on school funding - Wolf

By the Notebook on Sep 24, 2014 12:52 PM

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

The Notebook invited both candidates to submit a 1,000-word response answering our six questions about key education issues, with a focus on funding. The Wolf campaign submitted a response. The Corbett campaign declined the invitation to respond, but the Notebook has compiled other published statements from Corbett on these issues.

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