Figures released by the Associated Press on state spending, income and attendance has yielded a stark and growing disparity.
“Districts in the top 20 percent of average resident income are budgeted to spend slightly more than $4,000 more per student this year than the poorest 20 percent of districts,” according to the analysis. “That’s a 130 percent increase, or about $2,300 more per student, in the past four years.”
Jim Buckheit of The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators noted that less privileged districts “can’t make up the difference” from tax revenues. “As these cuts went into place, the only options the (poorer) districts had was to cut.”
This report fortifies the perception of a flawed state education system that has “one of the smallest roles in school funding of any state, leaving poorer school districts too reliant on an inadequate and often-shrinking local tax bases,” as one critic put it.
Incoming Governor Tom Wolf now shares the same conundrum as former Governor Ed Rendell, who chose to pump about $2 billion per year into education. Experts say a solution to parity problems would cost at least $1 billion immediately.
Gov. Corbett, for his part, is still sticking by his original mantra that when it comes to the state’s education funding, it is more important how money is spent rather than how much money is spent.