School Funding
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School Funding

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A look at various alternatives to property taxes, and some of their drawbacks.

A look at various alternatives to property taxes, and some of their drawbacks.

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  • Funding crisis – costs are rising: special ed, unfunded mandates, paying for health insurance for employees. Housing crisis – foreclosures, homes devalued, owners unable to pay their taxes, massive market slowdown. Funding our schools will only become harder, especially if recession hits.


  • 1. School Funding Where will we get the money?
  • 2. Where does the money come from now?
    • In Pennsylvania:
    • 57.3% Local Property Taxes
    • 38.3% State Sales and Income Taxes
    • 3.2% Federal Funds
    • 1.3% Other
  • 3. What are some other possible funding sources?
    • Sales of naming rights for auditoriums, stadiums, gymnasiums, and classrooms.
    • Allowing placement of vending machines on school property.
    • Encouraging developers to plan and build “55+” communities.
  • 4. Naming Rights – Good
    • Brings private money into school
    • Builds goodwill for purchasing business in community
    • Good advertising for purchasing business
    • Avoids property tax increases
  • 5. Naming Rights – Bad
    • Donors may want a larger voice in shaping school policies
    • Private funds get the public “off the hook” for support of the school
  • 6. Vending machines – Yea
    • Companies often make large contributions to or purchases for schools for exclusive vending rights
    • Schools receive monthly income from machines
  • 7. Vending Machines – Nay
    • Low or no nutritional value
    • Students use lunch money for junk food
    • Soda replaces milk in students’ diets, putting them (girls especially) at risk for osteoporosis
  • 8. Yes to “Over 55” Communities
    • Attracts affluent buyers
    • Increases tax base without adding additional students to schools
    • Homes are usually “clustered”, preserving open space
  • 9. No to “Over 55” Communities
    • Lack of affordable housing for young families
    • Diminished workforce
    • “ Graying” voter base may be reluctant to approve school funding proposals
  • 10. Pennsylvania’s Casino Revenue
    • Lower property taxes for Pennsylvanians
      • All homeowners will receive tax relief once gaming generates $570 million
      • $58 million in supplemental property tax and rent rebates for cities and high-burden individuals
  • 11. Problems with Gambling
    • Other “sin taxes” attempt to deter
    • Casino gambling actually promotes bad behavior
  • 12. Problems with Gambling
    • Gambling addiction – a serious problem for both the gambler and his/her family
    • Gambling is often targeted at those with low income who can least afford it
  • 13. So what is the answer?
    • NO easy answers!
  • 14. Rethink “free education”
    • Require tuition, as “public” schools in Great Britain do
      • Shifts burden to those actually using school
      • Exemptions for low-income families
  • 15. Stop business exemptions
    • Some municipalities exempt new businesses from many taxes, including school taxes, for a set period to attract them into their area
    • Forbid school tax exemptions across the Commonwealth
  • 16. Come up with another tax
    • Levy a tax that would be fairer to ALL taxpayers in Pennsylvania – income, sales, etc.
    • Divide the money among school districts based on per capita income and per student spending
  • 17. Be proud of PA schools
    • Commit to providing the funding needed to give future generations the education they will need to succeed in tomorrow’s world
  • 18. References
    • DePasquale, Ron, "A housing drive for over 55", The Boston Globe, 10 June 2007
    • Lewin, Tamar, "For sale: Naming rights to public schools: U.S. educators go private for funding", International Herald-Tribune, Americas Edition, 26 January 2006
    • "School Vending Machines Generate Funds - And Controversy",, accessed 27 February 2008.
    • true