ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A rally was held Monday in front of State Senator Pat Browne's office in Allentown. Those in attendance say it's time to change the state's entire funding formula.
The fair funding formula was implemented in 2016 and was designed to correct funding imbalances in the state. Only about 10% of education funding is run through that formula currently.
Local faith leaders say with a more than ten billion dollars in a budget surplus this year, it's time to change that.
"We have never been so close in the commonwealth to passing a fair funding formula for students in public education across the commonwealth," said Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards, Founder and Senior Pastor of the Resurrected Life Community Church.
Rev. Gregory Edwards is the director of POWER LV which organized the march and rally Monday. He is advocating for the Governor's proposal to run all of the state's more than six billion dollars in education funding through the fair funding formula.
"You are putting the statewide economy at risk if you short change children in public education," continued Rev. Edwards.
Currently, Pennsylvania's Hold Harmless Policy doesn't allow districts to lose money, regardless if they're enrollment drops. The policy
Right now, only about 10% of the money runs through the fair funding formula, which was passed in 2016.
This year the state has more than a 10-billion-dollar surplus between COVID relief and tax revenues. Governor Wolf wants to use 1.15 billion to make up lost funds for more affluent districts.
Republicans, however, are largely against the proposal.
"Some students don't feel empowered or qualified, even when opportunities are given to them," said graduate of Dieruff High School, Shavon Smith.
Smith transferred from Bethlehem to Allentown in middle school.
"All the stuff they had access to was far different from the things we had access to," continued Smith.
Allentown would be one of the school districts in the state with the most to gain from this.
"Almost $90 million, which is going to make in terms of infrastructure, and buildings, and curriculum, and internet," continued Rev. Edwards.
The budget has to be passed by June 30th. It's still very unlikely Republicans would approve a change like this but it may be taken out of their hands.
There is an ongoing lawsuit from the Education Law Center that claims Pennsylvania's current funding is unconstitutional.