The Colonial School District sent out an email today asking for the public to contact their state representatives regarding potential legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate that will impact how schools are funded. According to the email, the not-yet-proposed bill would eliminate real estate taxes and replace that revenue with taxes from increases from personal incomes and sales tax. Here is the text from the email:
Dear Colonial Community:
We are hearing that there will soon be proposed legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate to change the way the state’s public schools are funded. We understand the Senate bill would eliminate local real estate taxes, as early as this July, and be replaced with revenue from increases to the personal income and sales tax.
This is of great concern to the Colonial School District (CSD) for a number of reasons.
There is never a guarantee on the level of annual school funding from Harrisburg and, more importantly, when that funding will arrive.
In future years, CSD may be unable to meet its financial obligations (ie. Payroll and debt service) in the event there is no state budget like what occurred in 2015-2016.
Nearly 40 percent or $32.6 Million of CSD’s annual local revenue comes from commercial real estate taxes. Colonial will no longer control its tax rate, which is the third lowest in Montgomery County and seventh lowest among the 71 school districts in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Private citizens will be forced to make up that lost revenue.
For the 2016-2017 Budget, CSD expects to receive only 14.5 percent of its revenue from the state. Under this proposed new funding plan, the state would be responsible for 84 percent of the District’s revenue.
The Senate plan has no way to fund annual budget increases. There is no guarantee that income and sales taxes will be raised each year, or raised to an appropriate level.
Locally elected School Boards will lose control of funding for educational innovations and more, resulting in a lower quality of instruction.
Moving forward, our locally elected School Board will be unable to negotiate and sign long-term contracts without control over its annual budget.
We have many other concerns and unanswered questions raised by any potential shift in the way public schools are funded. Please contact your local legislators and urge them to reconsider the elimination of local school property taxes as the primary funding source for local public schools. Help us maintain local control of our schools and keep Colonial strong!
Rep. Matt Bradford
Rep. Mary Jo Daley
Sen. Vince Hughes
Sen. Daylin Leach