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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f7707e000090.5 WESA's Life of Learning series focuses on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area.This multi-year commitment to providing learning-focused news coverage in southwestern Pennsylvania is made possible by a generous grant from the Grable Foundation.

State House Passes Plan to Redevelop School Funding Formula

The state House has passed a plan that could bring lawmakers back to using a funding formula when doling out money to school districts across Pennsylvania.

The legislation would create a commission to review education funding and make recommendations for a new formula--something education advocates have urged for years.

Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he welcomes the proposal to task a commission with studying the issue.
"This commission gives us an opportunity to get back on course and to get it right," Markosek said.

The formula was created during the Rendell administration but was discarded by Gov. Corbett in his first state budget proposal in 2011. House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) argued on the House floor that it should return.  

"All of us should lament the fact that we even need this bill, we even need to pass this bill. Mr. Speaker, it’s a sad commentary on our state that we have to once again try to establish a fair and equitable funding formula for basic education and our 500 school districts," Dermody said.

However,  Representative Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chided Democrats for pinning blame on Republicans when education budgets saw deep cuts after being propped up by federal stimulus funds that disappeared in 20-11.  

"Before they start screaming about what we haven’t done, they have to take a look to see what they did in the years that they were getting federal stimulus funding, and they still did not fund based upon the formula that they talked about," Adolph said.

Any resulting formula would have to be approved by the Legislature and would only apply to any increase in education funding.