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Students in Science Class


Fully fund public schools to ensure compliance with the Pennsylvania Constitution, reduce pressure on property taxes, and ensure students receive the opportunities they need in our local schools to be successful after graduation.


Pennsylvania ranks 45th in the nation for the state share of funding for public schools. The commonwealth provides just 38% of K-12 funding; nationally, the average is close to 50%.


When the state doesn’t pay its share, this puts enormous pressure on communities to fund their schools by continually raising property taxes. This system places a heavy and unfair burden on homeowners and leaves schools without the resources they need to ensure students can be successful in school and after graduation when they enter the workforce or pursue further vocational education or college.


The landmark Fair Funding court decision that was issued by Commonwealth Court on February 7th, 2023, declared Pennsylvania’s inadequate and inequitable public school funding system unconstitutional. The judge ordered state lawmakers and the governor to work together to implement a plan that will ensure that all school districts receive adequate funding to provide students with a high-quality education and an opportunity to succeed.  


As your state senator, I will ensure budget negotiations start with fully funding education in compliance with the Pennsylvania Constitution, not giving our public schools whatever is left over. 


Ensure additional fiscal and academic accountability for charter and cyber charter schools and return excess cyber charter school funding to school districts.


Charter and cyber charter schools are privately managed public schools. Pennsylvania law allows any student to apply to attend any charter or cyber charter school in the state. Students’ home school districts are mandated by state law to pay tuition to the charter schools for these students. 


In the 2021-2022 school year, Pennsylvania taxpayers spent more than $2.6 billion in tuition payments to charter schools, including more than $1 billion on cyber charter school tuition payments.


Cyber charter schools, which deliver their education over the internet to students in their own homes, typically with a laptop computer that is provided by the cyber charter school, have materially lower costs than either school districts or brick and mortar charter schools. 


However, PA law mandates that school districts pay cyber charter schools the same as tuition rates as they pay to brick-and-mortar schools. As a result, the tuition payments cyber charters receive from school districts far exceed the cost of educating students at home on a computer, leaving cyber charter schools awash in excess money that they waste. 


And this excess funding is in plain sight. Cyber charter schools waste millions of our property tax dollars every year on advertising. They shower lavish salary and benefits packages on their CEOs and administrators. They pay exorbitant fees to for-profit management companies.  And unlike school districts, which must follow strict regulations, cyber charter schools are allowed to hold uncapped and unregulated surplus funding.  In the 2022 school year, Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools were sitting on a $250 million surplus made up primarily of the property tax dollars sent to them by school districts, a tenfold increase over the surplus the cyber charters held just three years ago. 


If elected I will champion reforms to Pennsylvania’s cyber charter school funding system that will match the tuition rates that our school districts pay to cyber charter schools with the actual cost of providing students an education at home on their computer. Current proposals in Harrisburg would save between $262-$460 million statewide each year. This would mean millions of additional dollars in our local classrooms every year, without any need for increases in property taxes.


Public funds should be invested in public schools, not gifted to families that choose to send their children to private schools. 


In 2023-2024, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs provided $490 million in taxpayer-funded support for private school vouchers.  Since their inception in 2001, the EITC and OSTC programs have provided more than $2.6 billion in funding for  school vouchers.


However, state law explicitly prohibits the collection of information about who benefits from these programs, so we know nothing about who benefits from the vouchers. State law also prohibits the collection of information about voucher students’ academic progress, so there is no way to evaluate the impact--positive or negative-- that vouchers have on student achievement in the commonwealth. 


If elected, I will champion reforms to increase  transparency and accountability for the $490 million spent on school vouchers each year. And I will oppose any expansion of school vouchers. 


Private and religious schools that receive voucher funding in Pennsylvania are allowed to discriminate against and refuse to enroll students for any reason, including disability, race, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation. Tax dollars should be invested in public schools that educate all children who walk through their doors, not siphoned into private schools that pick and choose the students they will enroll.

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