Jul 28 School Funding Court Decision Becomes Final, BEF Commission Formed
(July 28, 2023)
While there is no new news related to the state budget, which remains at an impasse, we did see some positive news for the future of education funding.
As you may recall, in February, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s current system of funding schools is not only inequitable, but unconstitutional, and must be reformed. Since this ruling, leaders in Harrisburg have had the option to file an appeal to this decision. The option to file an appeal expired at midnight on July 21. Since leaders chose not to appeal, the ruling is now final.
On the heels of the court decision is the re-formation of the Basic Education Funding (BEF) Commission. The Commission, which was initially established in 2014, was reconstituted in 2023 and consists of 15 bipartisan policymakers from the House, Senate, and the Shapiro Administration, including two members from Allegheny County — Sen. Williams (D) and Rep. Ortitay (R). The Commission is “charged with reviewing the distribution of state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts and providing a report of its findings to the General Assembly.”
When the original BEF Commission developed its recommendations in 2015, they directly led to the creation of the Fair Funding Formula, which is used to distribute increases in Basic Education Funding.
As of the end of July, the Commission has met twice, once in May for an organizational meeting and again in June to hear from the PA Department of Education on the current state of education funding. With the court decision becoming final, we expect that the Commission will likely ramp up its meetings throughout the Fall.
Allies for Children will continue to monitor the Commission and report on its progress. You can follow along on their website at https://www.basiceducationfundingcommission.com/.
Jamie Baxter, Allies for Children Executive Director