School budgets see increase from state

Alyssa Jackson
  • Most schools will see an increase in what they thought they would get in education funding from the state.
  • This is the first year that the new fair funding formula was used.
  • The state budget will not be signed by Gov. Wolf until a revenue plan is in place.

York County school districts will see an overall increase in education funding if the current state budget is signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The Legislature still needs to pass the revenue package of the state budget, which will fund the budget plan that the Pennsylvania House sent to Wolf on Thursday night. Lawmakers were still deliberating Tuesday afternoon. Wolf has said that he will sign the state budget into law once a "sustainable" revenue package is presented.

The current state budget calls for a $200 million increase in basic education funding, bringing the total number just under $6 billion for Pennsylvania schools. This is also the first year that the new fair funding formula, signed into law by Wolf in June, was used to calculate how much school districts would receive.

According to numbers provided by the House, school districts in York County will see an increase in the funding from the state this year, and many are seeing an increase in what they budgeted from the state in their 2016-17 school budgets, many of which can be found online on the school districts' web pages.

School districts were conservative in what they budgeted from the state in their 2016-17 school budget.

York City: The largest increase came for York City School District. In its 2016-17 school budget, the district anticipated $58.9 million, using the exact same amount that they had received in basic education funding last year from the state. Many schools did this in an effort to be cautious in the event of another impasse. York City schools, however, will receive $62.6 million if the state budget as it currently stands is signed by Wolf.

Erin James, spokeswoman for York City School District, said the district itself was going to "hold off on saying anything until it's a done deal," but Carol Saylor, the chief recovery officer for the school district, said the news of an increase, and a nearly on-time budget, was wonderful.

"The sooner we know, the better we can plan," Saylor said.

If the funding goes through, Saylor said, the district will probably begin to implement parts of the recovery plan for the city schools that haven't been put into place yet because of a lack of funding. York City School District was declared in recovery status more than two years ago because of its financial situation, and the position of chief recovery officer is part of state legislation designed to help financially struggling school districts recover. York City is in "moderate" financial recovery status.

Parts of the plan that will be implemented with additional funds include a technology audit, expanding the Communities in Schools resource to all of the city schools and implementing instructional coaching for teachers, Saylor said. Communities in Schools is a resource in several of the buildings through which students and families are connected to existing resources in the schools to meet their needs.

Northeastern: Northeastern School District was another district that used last year's Basic Education Funding number to anticipate what it would receive for this year. Director of Operations Bryan Geller said that because of the way the 2015-16 state budget went, the district chose not to anticipate an increase in funding. Because of this, the district will receive over $362,000 more than it had budgeted if the state budget is signed into law.

"Reoccurring funding will help moving forward for the district," Geller said. He said that he was unsure what the additional funding might be used toward, explaining that a discussion would be necessary with the board before deciding that. And, of course, the budget would need to be signed by Wolf, an action that Geller said he is hopeful for.

Northern York County School District Superintendent Eric Eshbach joked that they'll "have to deduct a few points from their final assignment for lateness," when asked how he felt about the state budget. Northern York originally had in the budget an anticipated $7,603,809 in basic education funding from the state, making it seem as though the district had anticipated more from the state budget than it would actually receive if the budget is approved.

Jason Young, business manager for the school district, explained that the number in the budget included both basic education funding and the Ready to Learn block grant, as opposed to the state numbers, which only include basic education funding.