Between 1991 and 2008 Pennsylvania did not have a functional school finance formula that distributed state funds to school districts either adequately or equitably. Hundreds of school districts lacked enough funding to provide all students with a quality education, and the state’s public school funding system did not distribute money to schools on an efficient or predictable basis. Members of the General Assembly who voted on budgets during that time had no objective way of knowing which districts had adequate resources and which ones did not. Further, Pennsylvania’s school districts were, and continue to be, highly dependent on the local wealth of their communities to support students’ academic achievement due to insufficient state funding.
Almost every state pays a larger percentage of overall public education costs than Pennsylvania does. On average, other states contribute 48 percent of total education funding, but Pennsylvania contributes only 36 percent. This low state share means that Pennsylvania’s local school districts must pay 57 percent of all public education costs, compared to the national average of 44 percent. As a result, Pennsylvania ranks 4th among the 50 states in our dependence on local taxes to support public education.