Two York-area senators are part of a new commission to determine how state money is distributed to the 500 public school districts in Pennsylvania.
Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon/York, and Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/York, are part of the new 15-member Basic Education Funding Commission, which has one year to develop and recommend a new formula for distributing the $5.5 billion in public education.
The commission comes after the passage of House Bill 1738 in June, which set up the parameters for the commission.
Teplitz said he has been a vocal supporter of public education and has been a part of the Senate Education Committee since he was elected in 2012.
"What we need to do is make sure that the state is investing appropriately in the school districts that need the most help," he said. "I'm not sure that's happening right now."
Funding formula: For years, York lawmakers and school officials have called for another look at the formula that distributes basic state funding, saying the formula doesn't account for growing school districts in areas like York County, while continuing to give more money to shrinking districts in other parts of the state.
An analysis by The York Dispatch in April showed Pennsylvania's 10 top school districts in terms of per pupil funding decreased in enrollment but continued to receive increases in state funding.
Meanwhile, a majority of York County school districts grew in number, but were ranked at the bottom of the list in terms of increased funding.
In one example from 1996 until 2012, the Cameron County School District in northcentral Pennsylvania saw its number of students drop from 1,169 to fewer than 700.
Still, the district continued to receive more funding from the state for its students to the point where its per pupil funding increased 204 percent even as it lost 40 percent of its student body.
Over the same 17-year period, Central York's enrollment jumped 57 percent to 5,900 students. And while funding has gone up, it amounts to a 38 percent increase on a per pupil basis.
Commission meetings: Teplitz said the commission met for an organizational meeting last week and has another meeting Aug. 20. Several meetings will include hearings about the funding formula; then the commission will work to establish a new formula, he said.
Some of that discussion will include data such as poverty levels, enrollment and other factors, Teplitz added.
"We have to get to a point where we're investing more resources where they're most needed, not based on other political factors," he said.
Folmer, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, is also on the committee, his office confirmed.
Timetable: The committee has a goal of finalizing a report by January, so it could be used for the 2015-16 school budget process, according to Folmer's office.
But by law, the commission has up to a year to complete the report, which makes the deadline June 10, 2015, said Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education.
The commission is made up of six senators, six House representatives, and three state administrators.
The three state administrators are acting secretary of education Carolyn Dumaresq, budget secretary Charles Zogby and deputy secretary of administration in the Department of Education Nichole Duffy, Eller confirmed.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.