Letter to the Editor: Lawsuit about more than formula

Lancaster Online by Candace Roper, January 9, 2022

I applaud the LNP | LancasterOnline Editorial Board for its Jan. 2 editorial on the fair funding lawsuit now being heard in Commonwealth Court (“Key testimony”). And kudos to the School District of Lancaster for leading the charge. Children in Lancaster and across the state are being denied the high-quality education that they deserve and that Pennsylvania’s constitution mandates. As a former two-term school board director in the School District of Lancaster, I was on the board when we decided to sign on to the class-action lawsuit to advocate for our students and larger community. However, sending all state education aid through the state’s funding formula is not the simple fix that one might assume it would be. This is important to understand.
When the funding formula was constructed, a crucial step was omitted. There was no determination of how much money schools actually need in order to ensure that all students are well prepared to meet the state’s standards for college and career readiness. Legislative leaders preferred to not know the answer because, I believe, they knew they were billions short of what is needed. The only question they continue to be willing to consider is how to divide up the “available funding.” That’s why most Pennsylvania school districts continue to be shortchanged by the commonwealth. The fair funding lawsuit correctly insists that in order to truly fix its detrimental funding system, the state must address both equity and adequacy.
Pennsylvania needs to get this right — now — for our children and future.

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