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Tax Dollars

School funding formulas questioned in study

Debra Erdley
| Monday, March 5, 2018, 9:45 a.m.

It's budget time in Pennsylvania and that typically means we're in for more than a few arguments about education funding.

Those complaining that public education is getting short shrift in the Keystone State need look no further than NPR's Morning Education to find support for their position.

A study by the Education Trust that analyzed state and local support for the poorest and wealthiest schools districts in every state found Pennsylvania ranked next to Mississippi in terms of how far support the poorest districts ranked below that for the wealthiest schools. The difference: the poorest schools received about 11 percent less per student than the wealthiest schools.

That puts Pennsylvania well behind places like Utah, where the poorest schools get about 15 percent more than the wealthiest, and Minnesota, where poor schools received about 11 percent more in state and local support than wealthy districts. Of course, we're no where near as bad as Illinois, which shorts its poorest districts nearly 30 percent more than their wealthiest counterparts.

The state's perennial debate over education funding could get interesting this year.

The Education Trust study comes as the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and several other groups prepare to argue their case for a more equitable funding formula before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib

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