Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Amount of School Funding Uncertain State to Deliver $3.3B Next Week

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Amount of School Funding Uncertain State to Deliver $3.3B Next Week

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG - The day after Gov. Tom Wolf signed a portion of the year's education funding into law, a critical question remained: How much money will individual school districts get?

On Wednesday, the governor's office said that question hasn't been answered.

"With regard to school funding, we are working to get that money out the door as fast as possible," said Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Mr. Wolf. "How the money is being distributed has not been finalized."

The Pennsylvania Treasury announced it had received requests from the governor's budget office for about 16,400 delayed payments to school districts, counties and human service organizations, and that it expects the nearly $3.3 billion to be delivered by the middle of next week.

To get money to schools as quickly as possible once funding was released, Mr. Sheridan said, the administration several months ago "pre-loaded" payments for districts based on last year's allocations but that a "reconciliation payment" will follow.

Normally, the main budget bill is accompanied by legislation with instructions on how to spend money that lawmakers have authorized. But a bill that would spell out the distribution of school funding for the current year has not reached the governor's desk.

Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said he assumes the administration will distribute the money based on last year's funding formula. Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans, said the governor must distribute the money through the most recent enacted formula.

"He cannot just do his own thing," Mr. Miskin said. "They don't have a choice."

Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, said a number of districts are on the brink of borrowing money to remain open.

"They absolutely are waiting anxiously to know specifically what dollars they're getting, because they don't want to take a guess," he said. …

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