Since the early months of the pandemic, Pennsylvania school district bureaucrats and lobbyists have demanded additional funding, ostensibly to cover increased costs. A February Commonwealth Foundation report tracked the amount of federal COVID-19 aid that has been allocated to each public school district in Pennsylvania via the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
We have now updated the numbers to include the 2019-20 school reserve balances and latest round of federal COVID-19 funding from the American Rescue Plan:
- Last summer, the Pa. Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) projected up to $1 billion dollars in local tax revenue losses for the current fiscal year due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
- School districts ended the 2019-20 school year with $4.84 billion in reserves—a $250 million jump from the previous year despite the pandemic starting in March 2020.
- School districts are on track to receive almost $6.2 billion in federal COVID-19 aid, which was allocated from three federal packages: $575 million via the CARES Act, $1.88 billion Via the CRRSA, and $3.74 billion via the ARP Act.
- Even under the worst-case scenario of projected tax loss, 499 out of the 500 school districts in Pa. will make money off the pandemic. The only district with a potential budget gap, Bethlehem-Center SD, had systemic financial issues that pre-date this year.
- Overall, school districts are well funded to overcome the challenges of this academic year and the next. Even if the worst-case scenario of local tax revenue loss and PPE costs come to fruition, school districts still have an excess of $9.1 billion in reserves and federal funding, or $6,000 per student.
See the previous analysis of school district reserves from February 2021 here.