Pennsylvania schools could see 5% revenue loss, group says

The Associated Press
West York Area officials and board members discuss proposals to update the middle and high school course curriculum at a Tuesday, Feb. 11 board meeting. The high school course selection comes with a change from a 4-block schedule to a 5-block schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Pictured, L to R: Business Manager Sheri Schlemmer, board members Douglas Hoover, Courtney Dennis and Todd Gettys.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts are facing a projected loss of up to 5% in the revenue from local taxes as coronavirus pandemic shutdowns take a heavy toll on the economy, a leading public schools group said Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers said it is projecting a loss of $1 billion, or 5%, in revenue from local school taxes if an economic recovery lags. A quicker turnaround could limit the damage to a loss of $850 million, or 4%, the group said.

More:Southern York school district approves wage freeze in lieu of tax increase

School districts reported spending about $30 billion in the 2017-2018 school year, according to state data, the latest available for that statistic. About $17.5 billion in revenue that year came from local sources, primarily property taxes, and $11.5 billion came from the state, according to the data.

In a statement, Timothy Shrom, director of research for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers, said rising unemployment will likely mean a loss in real estate transfer tax revenue as the economic downturn slows the real estate market.

Property tax revenue will decline as people need more time to pay, and interest rate reductions will depress interest earnings, Shrom said.