Equitable School Funding – A Must for Pennsylvania's Economic Competitiveness
Looming workforce skills gap demands adequate funding for all schools
With only one in five Pennsylvania employers rating the readiness of the current labor force as excellent or good, it is clear that Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce skills gap. The quality of the workforce and its alignment with employer needs is a critical factor in regional success, as competition for skilled workers and jobs puts more pressure on communities.
Pennsylvania’s wealthiest districts spend 33.5 percent more than its poorest school districts, a gap significantly higher than the national average of 15.6 percent. On average, states across the country cover 47 percent of school funding costs, but Pennsylvania’s state contribution to education funding is less than 37 percent, ranking 47th in the nation.
Here in Pennsylvania, local taxpayers, including many businesses, cover more than 56 percent of public education funding on average – one of the highest rates in the nation.
Adequately funded schools can help close the skills gap allowing all students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to be career- or college-ready. Studies show that school finance reforms (SFRs) that invest in K-12 education over the long-term can have significant impacts on student achievement. This is especially true when additional school funding is directed to underfunded public schools to help those students most in need, is reliably available each year, and is allocated to improving the classroom and direct services to children.
In order to combat this looming skills gap, Pennsylvania’s business community – whether in rural, urban, or suburban markets – has a strong stake in making sure that all our students emerge from school prepared for postsecondary education or a career. This report goes into further details on the importance of equitable school funding for all of Pennsylvania’s schools.