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Fair School Funding Formula Key Component of Budget
by State Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)

As budget discussions enter the final phase of negotiations, one of the key components of any budget is a fair school funding formula. There has been much discussion this year about the need for increased education funding and the final budget agreement will likely include millions of new dollars for PreK-12 education. How is this money distributed between Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts? The answer to this question will impact property taxes across the state.

School districts receive varying levels of funding from three main sources: taxpayers (both property taxes and earned income taxes), state funding streams and limited federal dollars. These funds come in different proportions for each of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, Locally Columbia School District’s budget is made up of 48 percent of state funds, Warwick’s budget is 29 percent and Manheim Township’s is 17 percent. If a school district receives less in state funds they are more reliant on taxpayers for their funding.

Currently, the state does not operate with a defined funding formula; however, a bipartisan new fair funding formula was proposed this year and has been discussed in budget negotiations. This formula would be student based on a school’s student population and would attempt to level out the wide disparities in state payments. The disparities are vast: a school district in Allegheny County receives nearly $11,000 per student while a Chester County school district receives only $500 per student.

A key component of the budget is the Education Code--which is a technical piece of legislation that includes directions for how the state’s education money flows to school districts. Last week, the state Senate passed the Education Code legislation, without including the new bipartisan funding formula. Without any changes to our current structure, nearly 30 percent of any new education funding would go directly to Philadelphia while70 percent would then be divvied up between the remaining school districts across the state.

As budget discussions are brought to a close, I will continue to support the inclusion of the bipartisan fair education funding formula which would benefit both Warwick and Manheim Township School Districts.

Representative Steven Mentzer
97th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Eric Reath
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