Making Students Count: Action on Education
Funding in Harrisburg
16, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania may be taking steps to
adopt formulas to fund education differently in public schools. The state's
Special Education Funding Commission has issued a final report that calls for
fundamental changes to the way state special education dollars are distributed
to Susan Gobreski, who heads the group Education Voters of Pennsylvania, it's a
report makes a set of recommendations that actually calls for using data around
what student needs are, what things cost, how we can actually provide the
supports and services that students need to meet educational standards,"
she pointed out. "And that is a huge step in the right direction."
Representative Mark Longietti said the "real numbers" approach in the
commission report will help correct flawed assumptions in the current state
formula; among them, that 16 percent of middle school students are considered
"special ed," when he said that in some districts that number is as
high as 20 percent.
now, we're going to actually count those students and we're going to break them
up into cost categories, recognizing that some students need the least
intensive services, whereas other students need the most intensive," the
Democratic state legislator said.
Gobreski said the call to form a basic education funding commission is reason
for cautious optimism, as long as two things are happening.
making long-term progress, and a commission that looks at a long-term funding
formula can help us do that," she stated. "We're also going to need
to make sure that we're making progress this year and next year, and that we
watch what is coming out of Harrisburg to see if this is the 'real deal.'"
bipartisan commission recommended that the special education funding formula
more accurately reflect students' educational needs, poverty, property tax
levels, and factors that affect rural and small districts.
House Education Committee is also considering a bill to create a similar
commission on basic education funding, to ensure that it is also distributed
fairly by district.
full Special Education Funding Commission report at bit.ly/18tIOdF.