A coalition of parents, organizations, and urban and rural school districts in Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that its school funding system fails to provide all students with an appropriate education, according to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that does not have a school funding formula, which means per-pupil funding varies greatly by district and comes largely from property tax revenue. Per-pupil spending runs the gamut in Pennsylvania, with some districts spending more than $28,000 per student, while others spend less than $10,000 per student, according to the article. The lawsuit says this funding system is “irrational,” and “does not deliver the essential resources students need, and discriminates against children based on where they live and the wealth of their communities.”
Nearly 30 percent of schools in Pennsylvania are rural, and the state has one of the highest numbers of rural students in the country, according to a report by the Rural School and Community Trust. About 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s education funds go to rural districts, and those districts spend a significant amount of money on transportation compared to instruction, which the report said is “a financial drain compounded by the relatively small revenue provided by the state.”
The lawsuit in Pennsylvania comes on the heels of similar legal action by 16 rural school districts in New Jersey, which filed a lawsuit against the state earlier this year asking for more funding. In Mississippi, more than 20 school districts have joined a lawsuit against the state seeking funds that are owed due to years of underfunding.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.