Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Growing districts deserve equitable funding

on March 25, 2014 11:00 AM

I am writing in response to Sen. Don White’s statements regarding the Pennsylvania school funding formula as reported in The Indiana Gazette on March 11.

I am a member of the Dallastown Area School District Board of Directors. I am also the person who drafted the language in the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s 2013 Legislative Platform that calls for eliminating the existing school funding formula and replacing it with a formula that is equitable, adequate, comprehensive and consistent.

My district in southern York County is one of the state’s growing school districts. We are one of the school districts that has not received our fair share of state subsidies based on attendance figures that are over 20 years old.

The “hold harmless” provision that has protected schools with declining enrollments has punished school districts that have grown. Our school district has been punished, but in reality, it is our taxpayers and students that have borne the brunt of this inequity.

We have not raised taxes for the last four years, thanks to the hard work of the board, staff and administration, as well as our teachers taking a one-year pay freeze. Our ability to hold the line on taxes has always been a struggle since we have lost millions in funding from the state since the inception of the hold harmless provision that has so richly benefited Sen. White’s school districts.

The senator’s warning that the PSBA campaign could push legislators to act is valid, as is his assertion that schools in the southeast receive 10-15 percent of their funding from the state and his school districts get 45-70 percent of their funding from the state.

However, his statement that “growing school districts are very weary” is dead wrong.

We are not weary, we are ready to take action. All we are asking for is a funding formula that is equitable, adequate, comprehensive and consistent. State formulas should not create winners or losers.

I commend the members of the Indiana school board for their integrity in recognizing the need for a fair and equitable formula that does not give political advantage to any region. I also appreciate that the senator recognizes the weakness of his argument in support of maintaining the status quo.

I am currently running for the state House of Representatives and promise to bring passion, dedication and hard work to this battle on behalf of growing school districts.

Kristin Phillips-Hill

Dallastown

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