Pennsylvania’s new state budget will bring a 15.4% funding increase to Delaware County school districts in 2021, including an additional boost for those in the districts that need it the most.
As part of the 2022-23 budget agreement, lawmakers increased education spending by up to $1 billion with $225 million to supplement the state’s 100 school districts with the greatest need for education. students and the fewest resources.
“Money for education is a decision by the legislature to invest more equitably and fully in our public education, it was a political decision that recognizes that we have underfunded some schools for far too long,” the rep said. of State Mike Zabol (D-163rd District) who serves on the House Education Committee.
Zabol credited strong revenue and responsible budget management for allowing the state to spend more who said it was a good year for the economy in terms of revenue generated and that we were able to make that investment.
Each district will see an increase in its education funding, but the Level Up program will particularly benefit districts such as Upper Darby, Southeast Delco and William Penn School Districts.
According to Zabol’s office, William Penn will see $36.2 million more than last year, Upper Darby $65.2 million more than last year, and Southeast Delco $28.7 million per year. compared to the previous year.
State Sen. Tim Kearney (D-26th District) said the budget deal was a big step forward.
“The negotiated increase in support for our public schools is tremendous, especially with Level Up Supplemental’s increased support for our highest-need school districts,” Kearney said. “I was proud to introduce the level supplement legislation in the Senate and champion it throughout the budget process on the Education and Appropriations Committee.”
Level Up funding creates a new level of base funding for districts.
“What Level Up does is take the 100 most underfunded school districts in Pennsylvania (there are 503 school districts in total) and give them a one-time boost that becomes permanent,” Zabol said. “This higher tier funding increases their base funding to a certain level and it will stay at their level.”
“Level Up is a significant step in the right direction and a long overdue recognition that inequality between districts must be addressed,” said Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First. “This funding, which is slowly beginning to level the playing field, temporarily eases the burden that superintendents, school boards and educators in rural, urban and suburban school districts face every day due to chronic funding disparities.”
State Sen. John Kane (D-9th District) said Chester will see a big increase in funding.
“We were able to negotiate over $12 million in increased funding for the Chester-Upland School District over last year’s budget. Approximately $4 million in increased funding will go towards the Level Up program,” Kane said. “I talk to CUSD parents all the time about what the Level Up program has done for their child’s success in the classroom.”
Kane said the Chichester School District will see an increase of more than $600,000 in basic education and special education funding.
“One of the top priorities of this budget was to put more money back into our public school systems and give them the help they need,” Kane said. “This budget will allow our educators to continue their great work for our students by investing real money and resources in our K-12 schools. This is definitely a huge win for our school systems.
When asked if the additional funding was a reaction to the unprecedented lawsuit brought by William Penn and five other Pennsylvania school districts, educational organizations and parents against the Pennsylvania Department of Education for chronic underfunding of poorer districts, Zabol said it was entirely possible.
“I think some legislatures are looking at the likelihood of losing this case and being told by the court that they need to put more money into the education system,” Zabol said. “Some legislatures see this as a chance to move this decision forward for whatever reason, I applaud that.”
Zabol said the additional funding is good for children and homeowners who face rising property taxes.
“We can’t keep going back to them and raising taxes, so we’re also trying to ease that burden,” Zabol said.
Zabol called the state budget a heavy investment in children, which makes significant investments in additional public education systems as well as pre-kindergarten, child care and the extension of subsidies. for school safety and health.
“It’s the best budget I’ve ever been involved in and worked on that reflects a lot of my values,” Zabol said.
State Rep. LeeAnn Krueger (District D-161e) noted that in the communities she represents there will be increases of $9.6 million in the Penn-Delco School District, $18.2 million $6.5 million in the Ridley School District and $6.5 million in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. .
State Rep. Craig Williams (R-160e – Chester/Delaware) also welcomed the bill that provides a $550,000 increase in basic education funding in the Garnet Valley School District.
“This budget was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support because it does so much to help people, especially in the areas of education, mental health and public safety,” Williams said.