Lancaster superintendent demands more money for school district


This article has been updated since its original publishing.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A milestone in a long process, that could have a big impact on some Midstate schoolchildren. The question is, are children in some districts being vastly shortchanged by the Commonwealth?

The School District of Lancaster (SDOL) actually promised last week they would speak on the topic just as soon as they finished testifying in a lawsuit, demanding more money. Both of those things happened on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

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“If you don’t have the money to support the needs of your students, then you are really denying them access to an education,” School District of Lancaster Superintendent Damaris Rau said.

“We definitely have, like many other poorer districts, a lot of students coming from economically disadvantaged homes,” Superintndent Rau said.

Fully 90% of its students are in that situation and 20% whose first language isn’t English. Both numbers are far higher than the statewide average. She says that means the district needs more money per student but gets less.

According to an SDOL calculation, a funding formula by the Commonwealth itself suggests the district needs about $4,500 more per student to help students meet state standards.

“I’ve actually worked in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania,” Rau said,

Always in districts a lot like Lancaster.

“I came to Lancaster specifically because the students looked like me,” Rau added.

The difference in the other two states, according to Rau?

“Equity and funding are much further along than in the commonwealth,” Rau said.

SDOL actually has a high tax rate, but property values are low and so, Rau says, is state funding.

“So we raise less money even without high tax rates,” Rau said.

What they want is more state funding and more of a need-based distribution of that funding. An attorney for Republican House Leader Bryan Cutler didn’t reply to our request for comment.

Senate Pro-Tempore Jake Corman has said Pennsylvania schools are actually among the better funded in America.

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