A statewide survey released today shows most registered voters believe public schools have an impact on economic development and should get more state money, using a fair funding formula.
The education findings from the Terry Madonna Opinion Research Spring 2014 Omnibus Survey were released during a telephone press conference that included leaders of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and the Central Pennsylvania Education Coalition.
Leaders of the organizations used the results to bolster their arguments for more state money and a predictable and equitable funding formula.
In a news release, Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said, "While our state's year-over-year job growth sits among the weakest states and the state's contribution to public education funding is below the national average, Pennsylvanians are making connections that state officials so far have missed."
The survey was conducted from Feb. 10-20 by telephone interviews with 800 adults. Its sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The survey found:
-- 84 percent believe public schools have a "very strong" or "some" effect on economic development.
-- 71 percent said the state needs to make "much larger" or "somewhat larger" investment in public schools.
-- 67 percent said schools with higher numbers of impoverished students should "definitely" or "probably" receive more state funding.
-- 72 percent said they "strongly favor" or "somewhat favor" using a fair school funding formula.
In the news release, Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said, "Built upon a patchwork of annually changing supplemental formulas with inconsistent targets for additional support, current basic education funding results in an unpredictable distribution of dollars to school districts across the commonwealth."
Joe Bard, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, noted that the state has a moratorium on reimbursements for renovations and new buildings. "Some of the oldest school buildings in the state are in rural communities where students are preparing for the future without modern tools for teaching and learning," he said.
Education writer Eleanor Chute: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1955.