BASIC EDUCATION FUNDING COMMISSION ORGANIZES AND BEGINS WORK

The Basic Education Funding Commission held its inaugural and organizational meeting today (July 24) and is now ready to begin its work developing an adequate and fair system for distributing state money to local school districts, according to Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Representative Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery).

During the commission’s first meeting, Senator Browne and Representative Vereb were elected to co-chair the commission. The commission also set its next meeting for August 20, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in the North Office Building, Hearing Room 1 in the State Capitol in Harrisburg. This meeting will mark the first time the commission will hear testimony related to funding of basic education in the Commonwealth.

“We expect to undertake a comprehensive study of a number of factors and listen to a wide-range of testimony over the upcoming months,” Senator Browne said. “We are looking to develop realistic parameters that will ensure that every school district receives the funding required to properly provide a high-quality education to its students. I look forward to working with Rep. Vereb and the rest of the commission to accomplish that goal.”

The 15-member Basic Education Funding Commission is tasked with developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts. The new formula will take into account relative wealth, local tax effort, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support as well as other factors.

“In a single word, this commission is about fairness,” said Vereb. “I want to work to establish fairness so that students in every area of Pennsylvania have access to a quality education. We recognize tax dollars are a limited resource and our responsibility is to find the best way to use the dollars that are available.”

Act 51 of 2014, sponsored by Representative Bernie O’Neill, called for the Basic Education Funding Commission to make its recommendation within a year of it being signed into law. Governor Corbett signed this legislation into law on June 10, 2014. The recommendations of the commission will not go into effect, however, without approval of the legislature and the signature of the Governor.

Other members of the Senate serving on the commission include Senator Mike Folmer, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee; Senator Andrew Dinniman, Minority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee; as well as Senators Matthew Smith, Lloyd Smucker and Robert Teplitz.

Other state Representatives serving on the commission include Representative Paul Clymer, Chairman of the House Education Committee; Representative James Roebuck, Minority Chairman of the House Education Committee; as well as Representatives Mark Longietti, Donna Oberlander and Mike Sturla.

Representing the Corbett Administration on the commission are Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq; Charles Zogby, Secretary of the Budget; and, Nichole Duffy, Deputy Secretary of Education.

Last year, a Special Education Funding Commission, which was also co-chaired by Senator Browne, held seven meetings throughout the state over seven months and heard testimony from more than 50 witnesses before making a recommendation in December to the General Assembly for the creation of a new special education funding formula for increased state funding for special education.

Contact:              

Vicki Wilken (Senator Browne) vwilken@pasen.gov – 717-787-1349

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) mmoyer@pasen.gov – 610-349-2879

Brian Kadunc (Representative Vereb) bkadunc@pahousegop.com – 717-705-7164