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Pennsylvania School Finance: Out of the Courts, Into the Legislature

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Publication Date: October 1998

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Richard Seder

Topic: Education (Education financing, facilities, and equipment)

Type: Brief

Coverage: Pennsylvania


The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) filed suit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1991 claiming that the legislature failed in providing a "thorough and efficient" system of education. Their claim was based solely upon disparities in expenditures between school districts.

The court noted that all matters dealing with school finance are political matters and therefore are in the jurisdiction of the legislature. The constitutionality of the Pennsylvania school finance system was challenged once before and was heard before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In this case, plaintiffs sought equalized funding across school districts. The court ruled that it was unable to judicially define what constituted a "normal program of educational services."