Published: January 6, 2005

Finance Snapshots


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Pennsylvania is one of the few states that do not use a foundation formula to pay for education. Components of the state’s formula can be described as “percentage equalizing.” A total of $4.3 billion is distributed to districts based on how much each district received the previous year, with additional money provided through several supplements. Districts are guaranteed at least a 2 percent increase in funding over the previous year. The base supplement for general aid is allocated using a district-wealth ratio to measure local fiscal capacity; the ratio uses measures of local property wealth and personal income. In Pennsylvania, there is not a required local effort for districts to receive the base supplement, but two of the additional supplements do require a minimum local tax effort. Similarly, although the state has no weights in the formula for student or district characteristics, it provides separate supplements for English-language learners, students in poverty, and small school districts. Pennsylvania also distributes money through categorical aid. The state spent more than $2.7 billion on 34 such programs in fiscal 2004, including support for transportation, special education, reading initiatives, professional development, early-childhood education, teacher retirement and benefits, and technology.

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Vol. 24, Issue 17, Pages 70, 72

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