Panel to study education costs

January 15, 2008 6:52:30 PM PST
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted Tuesday to set up a special commission that will look at how the state funds its system of public education.

The House approved establishing the Joint Legislative Commission on Public School Finance to recommend how state government should respond to a "costing out" study released in November on the cost of getting all public school students to meet academic expectations.

The costing out study estimated that Pennsylvania would have to spend about $5 billion more annually to meet current standards, and that most of the state's 501 school districts currently spend less than would be needed.

The House resolution that passed 192-to-2 would set up a 41-member commission, with goals that include finding ways to distribute state funds "adequately and equitably" while keeping districts accountable for meeting state proficiency standards.

"I do think a study is very, very important - the formula has not been changed in many years while the population has shifted across the state," said Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery. Harper said she obtained assurances that the commission's makeup would be changed to include taxpayers before deciding to support the resolution.

The state Senate will have to act in order for the commission to begin work.