This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania will soon join the overwhelming majority of states that have a student-based formula for distributing state education funds.
The House passed the measure with a large majority Wednesday. The Senate did so last week.
For much of the last 25 years, the state has largely divided its main pot of education money based on the principle that districts should never get less than the prior year.
Over time, because the state didn’t track changes to enrollment, poverty levels, and other factors, this has created huge inequities — favoring districts that have lost enrollment but have not had to endure funding decreases as a result.
In addition to actually counting enrollment trends, the new formula — which was written by a bipartisan commission — seeks to improve things by acknowledging that educating certain students costs more.
Districts will receive a greater share of funding based on how many of its students live in poverty, how many attend charter schools, and how many are learning English. The formula also recognizes that sparse, rural districts face added costs based on transportation and other factors.
It also gives a boost to districts where the local taxpayers are making a large effort as compared to their median household income.