Pa. school districts’ lawsuit over state funding heads to trial
A lawsuit that could result in drastic changes to how Pennsylvania funds public education goes to trial Friday in a Harrisburg courtroom, seven years after a handful of the state’s districts first went to court to challenge a system they consider unfair.
The case centers on spending disparities among Pennsylvania’s 500 districts and the comparatively low percentage of K-12 education that is paid for by state government — the plaintiffs say it is about 38%, compared to 47% nationally. Spending figures and test scores are among a dizzying array of statistics and studies expected as evidence. The trial could last well into January.
The plaintiffs, a handful of districts in neighborhoods with comparatively lower property values and family income, argue the reliance on property taxes and what they consider inadequate state subsidies means richer districts spend much more per student, calling it “a system of haves and have nots.” The result is that underfunded districts are more likely to have larger class sizes, less qualified faculty, outdated textbooks, and other shortcomings, they claimed in the 2014 complaint.