2021-22 School Budget Boosted by Pres. Biden’s Stimulus Funds
The State Government passed into law two, long awaited measures that will directly benefit the public school children of Philadelphia – beginning this September!
• State Budget for 2021-22: A special increase of $200 million will be spread over all 500 school districts and distributed according to the “Fair Funding Formula.
• Level Up: This law allows the 100 poorest school districts to share an additional $100 million to provide resources for children with the greatest needs.
For 10 years, the children in Southwest Philadelphia have had something in common with every one of their sisters and brothers in poor neighborhoods around the state. They have been short-changed by the state’s conservative legislature ever since Gov. Ed Rendell left office in 2011. It was at that point when Gov. Tom Corbett and the Harrisburg Republicans cancelled the public school “Fair Funding Formula.” That budget provision assured that the state made up the difference between money allocated by wealthy school districts and those like Philadelphia that didn’t have the local funds available to guarantee the “thorough and efficient” school system for all children which is specifically required by our State Constitution.
These two critically needed measures were supported by such school advocates as Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), ACLAMO, CASA, Education Law Center, Education Voters, Keystone Research Center, Lutheran Advocacy Ministries, Make the Road, One PA, Public Interest Law Center, Teach Plus of Pennsylvania, and the Urban League of Philadelphia.
Particularly helpful were the efforts of Dr. William Hite and some fifty other public school superintendents around the commonwealth. These education leaders came forward and demanded education justice to fill the gap between the grossly inadequate regular annual state budget and the actual needs of their students.
These extra monies were in addition to the welcome $50 million increase in the annual allocation for teaching kids needing special education support – the largest increase ever.
The new state budget is also making available another $30 million for expansion of the Pre-K and Head Start programs to properly prepare children for kindergarten.
The Pa Schools Work Campaign release a statement heralding these changes. ““This budget’s increased investment in public schools does not come close to backfilling the increase in mandated costs to school districts over the last two years, much less the needed investments to offset continued inadequacies in state funding.
“Like pennies from heaven, budget negotiators had an almost magical opportunity to shatter the systemic inequities plaguing PA school districts – a rare opportunity to get ahead of rapidly increasing mandated costs, which could have caused a seismic shift in the future of Pennsylvania’s economy, stemmed rising local property taxes, and increased student success; yet they passed up that opportunity.”
This Campaign noted sadly that the Republican dominated legislature quietly tucked away $2.5 billion in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” for emergency purposes out of the $7.3 billion in stimulus money allocated by the US Congress this spring under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan (Information for this article was excerpted from a release by PCCY)