State ed funding for York County stagnant

Jessica Schladebeck, and Greg Gross
York Dispatch

The state Department of Education on Wednesday announced school districts across the state will receive a combined $5.6 billion in basic education funding for the 2015-16 year, leaving districts in York County with little or no additional funding.

A Jackson Elementary student works on a project in January of 2015. file photo

York City schools will see a $1.7 million increase in funding when basic education and its Ready to Learn Block Grant, which is partially used to pay charter school tuition, are combined.

That’s about a third of what the school board and administrators first anticipated.

"Obviously, it's drastically less," said Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, compared to the $5.6 million in additional funds the district was to get under a compromise budget that was never brought up for a vote in the House. "We should be providing more."

Hoping: Because school districts have only received funding for the first half of the year, York City schools are holding out hope for more than the Department of Education's estimated total.

The York City School District received nearly $30 million in emergency funding, which will help relieve a lot of the district’s immediate cash-flow issues, said Richard Snodgrass, the district's business manager.

"They did release some cash, which will be payment toward whatever the ultimate subsidy is going to be," he said. "Whether this will be it or whether there will be additional money, we'll have to wait and see.”

But lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said the allocation numbers released by the Department of Education are what districts will receive.

Ten school districts across Pennsylvania received no increase in basic education funding, and three of those were in York County: York Suburban, Dallastown Area and Dover Area school districts.

"Needless to say, I am not happy with these numbers," said Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, who was once a school board member with Dallastown.

Philadelphia City School District will see a $57.8 million overall increase, leaving some York County Republican lawmakers to wonder where Wolf's, the first-term Democrat from Mount Wolf, loyalties lie.

"It goes back to what good is it to have a governor from York County when he screws over York County school districts," said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, whose district includes Dover Area School District. "How do you leave out these school districts?"

Formula: The Wolf administration used a hybrid funding distribution formula to make the allocations, but some lawmakers argued a bi-partisan, "fair" funding formula should have been used instead.

The state hasn't revised its school funding formula since 1992. That formula is based on 25-year-old population figures, meaning districts that have seen a lot of growth, such as many in York County, haven't seen a corresponding increase in funding.

Since 1992, Dallastown Area School District lost out on $92 million, Phillips-Hill said. Central York missed out on $94 million, Dover Area $46 million, she rattled off.

A bi-partisan committee unveiled its "fair" funding formula over the summer with hopes it would be used in future budgets.

"That funding formula committee is the compromise," Phillips-Hill said. "Why don't we use that formula?"

Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said new formula is expected to be incorporated in the 2017 budget.

The hybrid formula the governor ended up using was part of a compromise budget between Wolf, the Senate and House Democrats, he said.

That budget, however, failed to pass the House, and the Senate sent Wolf a different spending plan just before the holidays.

"Republican leaders left town for holiday vacation without passing any of the accompanying code bills, including the school code," he said.

Before the bickering began, the York City School District, which has been in state-mandated financial recovery for three years, expected an increase in state funding of nearly $6 million. Instead, it's receiving a basic education increase of $630,235 and a $1 million boost in its Ready to Learn Block Grant.

The basic education funding paired with the grant money resulted in an overall dollar increase for the city school district of about $1.7 million, which is an approximate 3 percent increase over last year.

The Right to Learn Block Grant debuted during the 2014-15 fiscal year with $200 million in funds to be distributed based on 11 initiatives rooted in improving academic success. Some of those initiatives include offering preschool and full-day kindergarten programs, providing supplemental instruction for the Keystone Exams, and finding ways to customize instruction using technology.

Although they didn't receive increases in basic education funding, when factoring in Ready to Learn Grant increases, York Suburban, Dallastown Area and Dover Area school districts received boosts of 2.79, 0.44 and 0.57 percent, respectively.

Dallastown Superintendent Ron Dyer had no comment on Wednesday and was in the process of reviewing the funding. York Suburban and Dover school districts did not return calls for comment.

Below are York County's school districts, their total allocations for the 2015-16 school year, and the percent increase from the previous year:

Central York, $7,299,245, 1 percent

Dallastown, $8,744,753, .57 percent

Dover Area, $11,265,920, .44 percent

Eastern York, $7,540,677. 1.20 percent

Hanover Public, $2,693,460, 2.53 percent

Northeastern York, $10,953,230, 1.03 percent

Northern York, $7,471,443, 1.09 percent

Red Lion Area, $15,067,001, 1.28 percent

South Eastern, $8,900,428, .88 percent

South Western, $10,134,176, .80 percent

Southern York, $7,776,396, .49 percent

Spring Grove Area, $10,766,311, 1.29 percent

West Shore, $13,420,884, 2.89 percent

West York Area, $5,867,917, 1.31 percent

York City, $59,260,018, 3.04 percent

York Suburban, $1,926,028, 2.79 percent

— Reach Greg Gross at Reach Jessica Schladebeck at