If this makes you mad, good.

If it makes you litigating mad, even better.

We're starting to think the only way lawmakers will fix Pennsylvania's outrageously inequitable school funding formula is if districts and taxpayers take the state to court.

It worked in other states when their legislatures couldn't or wouldn't deal with similar issues.

And there's no way an impartial judge or jury could look at Pennsylvania formula and do nothing.

Here's what York Dispatch education reporter Nikelle Snader found when she crunched numbers provided by the state Department of Education (you might want to sit down):

Between 1995-96 and the 2011-12 school year — the most up-to-date data available – every one of the top 10 districts in the state in terms of per pupil funding showed a drop in enrollment. In all but one case, enrollment declined by at least 20 percent.

During the same time, each of those districts' state funding increased dramatically – anywhere from 110 percent to 204 percent.

In York County, on the other hand, enrollment increased in all but three of our 16 school districts during the same time. Five districts have grown by at least 20 percent.

Yet, the highest any of those districts ranks in terms of per pupil funding is Northeastern at number 329; York Suburban is 494th out of 500 districts in terms of per pupil state funding.


Something is seriously wrong here.

How wrong?

In 16 years, the Cameron County School District in northern Pennsylvania lost 40 percent of its students but ranks 10th in Pennsylvania in the amount of state funding received per pupil, at $10,774. During the same time, Central York's enrollment jumped 57 percent and it ranks 480th at $2,449 per pupil.

Central York's school board recently adopted a resolution urging legislators to rework the funding formula, which is unfairly burdening local taxpayers. Dallastown Area's board did the same, and York Suburban's is considering signing a similar document.

The local districts are being prodded by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, which has asked its members to encourage lawmakers to look at proposed legislation to fix the formula.

Good luck. This problem has been around for a long time – the current funding formula has been in place since 1991-92.

Some lawmakers have tried to update the law, but always we hear the same thing – it's complicated, and some of their colleagues are perfectly happy with the current formula.

No doubt, and we're sure they represent those districts in the top 10 list.

A bill is now working its way through the Legislature, but it's a half-hearted attempt at reform. House Bill 1738, which passed the House, creates a commission to study the issue and gives it a year to do it.


No, it's not simple, but it's not all that complicated either.

A few lawmakers see that.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, has been pushing school funding reform, and suggests a pretty obvious starting point: Every student in every district should be assigned the same amount of state money.

Other issues, such as a district's tax base, can be factored in later.

Makes sense to us.

But then again, we're not most lawmakers.

Enough begging, hoping and studying – perhaps it's time to take 'em to court.