May 25, 2016

Lindsey M. Williams, Esq.
Director of Communications
Office: 412-431-5900
Cell: 412-443-0226

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visigitis released the following statement in response to the passage of HB 1552 that creates an education funding formula:

Pennsylvania can finally celebrate having an education funding formula that will take the politics out of distributing education funds. Prior to today, Pennsylvania was one of only three states without a fair funding formula and our state was the worst in the country in terms of equitably distributing education funds.

The passage of an education funding formula is an important first step in providing schools with the state resources they need to provide a high-quality education to every child regardless of where they live. However, the legislature’s work is far from done.

A fair funding formula does not mean much without sufficient money to distribute. The state legislature must restore the devastating cuts from 2011. The state funding provided to Pittsburgh Public Schools is still only at 88.8% of the amount before the 2011 state budget cuts.

From 2011 to 2013, Pittsburgh students lost more than $80 million in state funding. Our students lost art, music and world language classes as well as teachers, librarians, paraprofessionals, tutoring programs, textbooks, supplies, field trips, athletics and more. Students who were already struggling were hit again. For example, students receiving special education services in the general education environment were disproportionately affected by the loss of paraprofessionals and increased class sizes.

We urge the state legislature to provide $400 million in additional education funding in the 2016-17 budget that is supported with new, stable revenue sources. We also urge lawmakers to distribute those funds first to schools, such as Pittsburgh, that suffered disproportionately from the 2011 funding cuts.

Research shows that an increase in school funding provides a lifetime boost to low-income students. A 20 percent increase in per student spending equals one more year of education. That extra year of education translates into a 25 percent earnings increase and a 20 percent poverty decrease. Today’s students are the future of Pennsylvania and we need to invest in them now.

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