Stephens Rejects School Funding Formula that Shortchanges Montgomery County School Districts
7/1/2013

HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) today urged his colleagues to reject reauthorization of the state’s school funding formula as unworkable and unfair to his school districts in Montgomery County.
 
While Stephens voted against reauthorization, the House voted to keep the code in place.

 

“This funding system is blatantly unfair,” Stephens said. “While I concede some school districts have greater financial hardships than others, the school districts of the 151st District receive only about 16 percent of their funding from the state while other districts receive more than 70 percent of their funds from the state.  The children in my schools are worth just as much as other children across the state of Pennsylvania and deserve an equitable school funding formula."
 
Under the formula, the Abington, Hatboro-Horsham, North Penn, Upper Dublin, and Wissahickon school districts will receive a state subsidy of between $600 and $900, while the average state subsidy is $3,200.  Many districts receive between $5,000 and $12,000 per student.
 
"Such low levels of state funding require my school districts to rely more heavily on locally raised property taxes to fund our schools," explained Stephens.  "The property tax is one of the most unfair taxes imposed and is particularly onerous for our seniors living on fixed incomes.  It's unfair for them to have to fill the gap the state is creating by using this school funding formula."
 
Stephens is especially concerned about the “hold harmless” provision of the Education Code that states that no school district can receive less funding than the year prior, even if the district’s enrollment declines.  Reports indicate this practice has gone on since 1991 meaning some districts are being funded based upon 1990 census data.
 
It’s been difficult to change the formula as few legislators from counties with declining school enrollments are willing to vote to redistribute education funds to counties with growing student enrollments. Pennsylvania legislators representing school districts with slow-growing or decreasing enrollments outnumber legislators representing quickly growing areas in the General Assembly.
 
“While many in the House reject redistributionist policies, the formula we use for funding schools is exactly that,” Stephens said. “It takes money for some districts and gives it to others. I will continue fighting for a funding formula that values all the Commonwealth's children equally.”

PA State Rep. Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

 

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