Education funding advocates ready for court if Pennsylvania doesn’t address $6.2 billion shortfall

Miss Penn sits on top of the dome at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, June 29, 2023. (Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

By Sean Kitchen

January 5, 2024

Education funding advocates announced on Thursday that they are ready to go back to court if Gov. Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Legislature cannot address Pennsylvania’s $6.2 billion shortfall.

School funding advocates promised Gov. Josh Shapiro and leaders in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that they are ready to file another school funding lawsuit if the governor and legislature is unable to address education funding shortfalls, according to the Associated Press.

Pennsylvania public schools are facing a $6.2 billion shortfall and lawyers who represented underfunded schools in the school funding lawsuit are renewing their calls for a multiyear funding plan to address the funding gaps.

The lawyers and advocates proposed that lawmakers add an extra $2 billion to public education funds in the upcoming budget followed by an additional $1 billion increase for the next four years to address the gaps by the 2029-30 school.

“We cannot accept a plan that is politically convenient but fails our students,” Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center, told the AP.

It remains to be seen how Shapiro’s upcoming 2024-25 budget will address the $6.2 billion education funding shortfall, but advocates understand it’s a large number for legislators and the governor to tackle.

“It’s a big number,” Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, a senior attorney for the Public Interest Law Center, which also represented the school, told the AP. “We don’t pretend that’s not a big number, but it’s also an urgent problem.”

The school funding lawsuit was originally filed in November 2014 and took close to 9 years to navigate its way through the court system.

The Commonwealth Court, an appellate court that oversees government-related entities in Pennsylvania, issued a 786 page decision ruling that the state’s public education system is unconstitutionally funded on February 7, 2023. Legislative leaders from both parties decided to not appeal the decision.

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION | POLITICS

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