Senator Nick Miller

January 12, 2024 − As part of the Basic Education Funding Commission, Sen. Nick Miller (D-Lehigh/Northampton) and Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh), who serves as chair of the House of Representatives Education Committee, voted yesterday in favor of a report that ultimately passed as the committee’s final recommendation

“This report offers a timeline and budget recommendations, which are crucial for accountability. It highlights some of the biggest challenges facing our 500 school districts today,” said Miller. “So many of our facilities are in disrepair and I have been a strong advocate for fixing our schools since my time on school board, where I saw firsthand how poor of condition some of our schools are in. We have neglected our buildings for decades. Our students and staff deserve to be in safe and healthy learning environments.”  

A recent commonwealth court decision ruled that the way Pennsylvania funds public schools is unconstitutional. The Basic Education Funding Commission heard from nearly 100 experts and advocates from around the state in hearings across the commonwealth to determine a better formula for school funding.

“For months, Senator Miller, I and the other members of the commission crisscrossed Pennsylvania listening to the administrators, educators and researchers about how to ensure adequacy, equity and stability in our education system,” said Schweyer. “This report offers a massive first step in ensuring those goals and would boost education funding in the Lehigh Valley. Specifically, Allentown School District would receive an increase of $36.7 million, $1.9 million for East Penn and more than $450,000 for Salisbury Township. This report is a roadmap to a better future for our kids.” 

Miller added that Catasauqua, Whitehall and Northampton School Districts would also receive funding.  

“Our local property taxpayers have shouldered the burden of overpaying so that we can fund public education for too long,” added Miller. “These school districts have been underfunded for decades and our taxpayers have been making up the difference in the meantime. This report recommends $1 billion in tax relief for overtaxed school districts.” 

“Financial literacy is another priority of mine. I encourage districts to use some of this funding to build and expand financial literacy programs. Too many of our students go out into the real world with no concept of finances,” added Miller.  

Miller also applauded the investment in education workforce. “There is also a teacher shortage across the country. We urgently need to recruit educators and retain them. The student teacher stipend is a good beginning step to attracting and keeping teachers, but we have to pay them adequately, provide them proper supplies and resources and support them to keep these professionals continuing their careers in the commonwealth.” 

Miller added, “This reinforces my advocacy for funding to fix our schools as soon as possible. Based on this blueprint, we can take the next steps in implementation and ensuring accountability on these investments, but it’s time to stop burdening taxpayers to fund our schools and retake some responsibility.”