This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts plan to ask for tax hikes this fiscal year and about half expect their finances to get worse, according to an annual census conducted by school administrators and business officials.
The survey results suggest that districts, on the whole, are more pessimistic this year than they were the year prior, indicating that many feel pinched by the continued growth of pension, health-care, special education, and charter costs.
“School districts across Pennsylvania continue to struggle to make ends meet and balance their budgets without negatively impacting their educational programming,” according to the annual School District Budget Report, which is compiled jointly by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA).
Seventy-seven percent of districts plan to seek tax increases, up from about 70 percent last year. The percentage who anticipate their district’s financial position will worsen is also up, from 43 percent to 48 percent. About the same number of districts, 45 percent, think their financial position will remain the same. Only 7 percent forecast a sunnier outlook in the year ahead.