PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING

The group held its organization outside North Penn High School on Thursday.

North Penn community members, teachers, board call for better equitable public education funding at Day of Action event

  • Schools

North Penn School District community members, administrators, teachers and board members came together in support of a statewide Day of Action for equitable public education funding Thursday morning in front of North Penn High School in Towamencin.

The day focused on supporting the proposed $1.8 billion investment in public education in Governor Shapiro's 2024-2025 state budget. This day was part of a larger effort to ensure fair funding across the Commonwealth following the supreme court ruling.

In February 2023, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found Pennsylvania education funding unconstitutional. The legislature was tasked with reviewing the distribution of state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.

Basic Education Funding Commission worked to develop a bipartisan solution to solve the decades old problems. Earlier this month, HB2370 passed in the State House of Representatives with bipartisan support. This bill ensures transparency and accountability in cyber charter education funding, provides property tax relief across the Commonwealth, and ensures increased funding for all districts.

Community members Dr. Karalyn McGrorty Derstine and Megan Briggs have been organizing North Penn School District efforts and participation in calls for equitable funding.

“My work with fair funding for PA public schools started with my community organizing around racial equity back in 2021. (This) quickly led to the effort around adequate funding for PA public schools,” Briggs said. “Once I learned about the large discrepancy (between districts), I have hung my hat in this area of advocacy.”

Briggs organized, alongside district Interim Director of Student Activities Chris Frey, a group of student participants at the May 8  Day of Action in Harrisburg. NPHS students had the opportunity to meet with state officials and share their experience and why they supported fair funding.

    Reps Malagari, Hanbidge and Cerratto with NPSD students in the PA House on May 8.
 Dr. Karalyn Derstine 
 
 

When asked why she selected the high school as a backdrop, Derstine said the school represents the desperate need of state funding in public education.

“The referendum made our advocacy efforts all that more necessary. Decades of districtwide, deferred maintenance has left us a massive issue of dilapidated facilities and we are stuck paying the cost. Our kids need healthy schools, and our taxpayers need relief. I think changes to state funding would benefit all members of community,” Derstine said.

North Penn parent Bridget Kunakorn shared her concerns with the programming available to students.

“All students, regardless of their background, abilities, or socioeconomic status, deserve access to quality education. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, this fundamental right is being neglected, disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable students,” Kunakorn said. “Our elected officials must uphold their duty, as outlined in the Pennsylvania Constitution, and ensure every child receives the education they are entitled to.”

School Board Director Christian Fusco echoed these sentiments.

"Over the past 12 years, special education costs have increased 74.8% while federal and state funding of these mandated costs has only increased 9.9%. There are only four states in the nation that rely more on local tax payers to fund public schools,” he said.

It’s clear, change is necessary to support the needs of all students.

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Thursday, July 25, 2024
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