York County schools see funding increase under state fiscal code

Greg Gross

School districts in York County are seeing increases in state funding this year after Gov. Tom Wolf let the fiscal code, which alters how education dollars are distributed, become law on Monday.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

That means an additional $704,000 for York City schools, the largest windfall for districts in the county. The city school system is also receiving the largest state allocation, $60.5 million, in the county for the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to House Republican budget documents.

All districts in the county are receiving more funding compared to allocations previously announced by the state Department of Education since the fiscal code uses the fair funding formula — which takes into account more up-to-date student population figures — to distribute state dollars. The formula was created by a bipartisan commission last year.

"They should be getting more money than what the governor wanted to do," said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.

Two formulas: Wolf has used what he called a restoration formula to send out funding, which York County Republicans said short-changed growing districts in the county. Wolf's office defended the governor's distribution method, saying districts hit hardest by budget cuts under former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration took first priority.

Wolf didn't sign the code, House bill 1589, but allowed it to become law without his signature. The House and Senate had previously passed it by veto-proof margins.

It was the final piece of the budget and ends the monthslong state budget impasse nightmare. The 2016-17 fiscal year starts July 1.

"As we enter 2016-2017, I look forward to coming together to reach a long-term solution to fix our deficit and to fund education at all levels. I remain adamant that we must take additional steps to restore the cuts from the previous administration," Wolf said in a statement.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association praised the fiscal code becoming law, noting it means districts will have access to funds to help cover construction costs.

“Additionally, the bill establishes a funding mechanism to pay schools for construction reimbursements due to them as part of the PlanCon process. This will right the PlanCon ship and make districts whole for money some have been anticipating for years,” Nathan Mains, its executive director, said in a statement.

The state can borrow up to $2.5 billion for construct costs.

The numbers: Here's a comparison of what York County's school districts are getting under the fiscal code, including basic education funding and Ready to Learn block grants, versus what they would have received under the distribution plan Wolf used. The allocations under Wolf's plan are in parentheses:

  • Central York: $7,766,288 ($7,345,750)
  • Dallastown Area: $9,243,021 ($8,778,526)
  • Dover Area: $11,626,947 ($11,296,457)
  • Eastern York: $7,695,609 ($7,590,885)
  • Hanover Public: $2,889,645 ($2,730,833)
  • Northeastern: $11,248,540 ($11,016,907)
  • Northern York County: $7,622,685 ($7,515,765)
  • Red Lion Area: $15,437,995 ($15,173,550)
  • South Eastern: $9,081,781 ($8,943,164)
  • South Western: $10,342,796 ($10,179,303)
  • Southern York County: $7,943,750 ($7,798,488)
  • Spring Grove Area: $10,921,297 ($10,841,638) 
  • West Shore: $13,597,507 ($13,530,422)
  • West York Area: $6,111,259 ($5,909,328) 
  • York City: $60,534,964 ($59,830,883)
  • York Suburban: $2,086,650 ($1,954,100)

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.