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House Passes Comprehensive School Funding Plan

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 2370 – the basic education funding bill – on Monday that amends the state’s school code.

The final vote was 107-94 with two absences. Five Republicans voted for the bill – Reps. Joe Hogan (R-Bucks), Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), Jim Marshall (R-Beaver), Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) and K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bucks). Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-Dauphin) and Rep. David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster/Berks) were both absent.

The bill – now headed for the Republican-controlled Senate – would put in place a seven-year funding plan adopted by the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission in January. That plan was created in response to a landmark ruling in 2023 by the Commonwealth Court that ordered state officials to craft a new school funding system that ensures all students access to a “comprehensive, effective, and contemporary public education” – a system that complies with the state constitution and does not discriminate against students in low-wealth communities.

“The House just passed a historic education funding formula mirroring what I proposed in my budget — a once in a lifetime opportunity to do right by our kids and build on the Basic Education Funding Commission’s work,” tweeted Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro. “And it passed with bipartisan support. Every kid deserves the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed. Let’s make that a reality.”

The legislation commits the state to raise funding levels for 367 underfunded districts over seven years by $5.1 billion to fill adequacy gaps and provides $1 billion in financial relief to communities that have shouldered a heavy local tax burden due to state underfunding.

The House and Senate are required by law to agree on a budget for 2024-25 by June 30, and updates to the school code typically are a part of the budget process.

“Today, my colleagues in the House, in a bipartisan manner, passed a monumental bill that will change the way we fund education in Pennsylvania,” said House Education Committee Majority Chairman Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh). “A fair and equal education for every Pennsylvania child has been a top priority for me since I first became a legislator, and it has been my most important goal since becoming Chairman of the House Education Committee last year.

“This goes beyond just the Lehigh Valley; it would apply to schools all across Pennsylvania. Kids in Easton should have the same things kids in Saucon Valley have. Kids in Philadelphia should have the same opportunities as students in Lower Merion. Kids in Harrisburg, York, Scranton, Reading, Bethlehem should absolutely have the same opportunities as suburban school kids.”

“The House Democrats’ basic education funding plan does nothing but double down on a failing education system that represents the inability of state and local leaders to prioritize outcomes-based learning and bring the needed transformational change to deliver on classroom success, which would truly provide for a student-first and family-focused system of education,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).

“House Republicans have stood behind increasing basic education funding in every budget cycle. However, while this proposal may pass the House today, we all know the hard work of making the transformative change in education still awaits us.”

“We applaud members of the House for adopting this breakthrough legislation. Pennsylvania students have waited decades for such decisive action,” said Education Law Center legal director Maura McInerney. “This bill is a transformative long-term plan to finally close the state’s glaring, unconstitutional resource gaps. It creates meaningful, new opportunities for our children and their futures by substantially increasing state funding to underfunded districts each year for seven years.”

“We are headed towards a before and after moment for the children of Pennsylvania,” said Public Interest Law Center senior attorney Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg. “The most unfair school funding system in the nation will be no more, as thousands of new teachers, counselors, librarians, and school nurses deliver what every child deserves: the opportunity to thrive. We urge the Senate to promptly pass this bill.”

This story will be updated

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