Fund Our Schools PA, February 22, 2022
After 48 days in the courtroom, witness testimony in the Pennsylvania school funding trial concluded Tuesday, with petitioners presenting their rebuttal case. They called just one witness: Professor Matthew Kelly of Penn State University, who previously testified as an expert on Pennsylvania’s school finance system on Nov. 19 in petitioners’ case-in-chief. In his November testimony, Kelly summarized his view of the Commonwealth’s school funding system. The poorest districts have the great needs; the poorest districts receive the least amount of funding; and districts with the greatest needs are furthest from meeting standards. “In the Commonwealth currently, those districts that need the most get the least,” he said. Kelly returned to rebut claims from expert witnesses called by respondents that questioned this description of school funding in Pennsylvania. For example, Jason Willis, a research director at WestEd called by Senator Cutler, claimed that schools serving more poor students receive more funding in Pennsylvania than their counterparts. Kelly’s rebuttal testimony illuminated a fundamental error that counsel for petitioners had previously explored in their cross examination of Willis: an apparent failure to properly account for students who attend charter schools.
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