Budget Information Resource Page

Report on School Funding
 
A study on school funding and spending released in March 2017, reports that Southern Columbia lacks adequate state funding. According to the report, Southern Columbia needs to receive a 54.3% increase in state funding in order to receive its fair share of the money being allocated to Pennsylvania's schools. At the local level, this same study reports that Southern Columbia is spending 13.6% below its identified adequacy target.  Despite the aforementioned, Southern Columbia continues to offer quality educational programs as evidenced by student assessment scores which consistently rank above Pennsylvania's proficiency averages and awards bestowed upon our schools such as the High School's National Blue Ribbon Award for Exemplary Performance! Unfortunately, costs continue to rise and until the State Legislature finds a solution to reign in pension and health care costs, and equally fund all schools, the fiscal onus of supporting- and maintaining- quality education in the District will fall on local taxpayers. The following links provide more detailed information about the study, including the methodology used to determine the study's findings: Report of Rural School FundingMethodology Used to Determine RankingsList of Schools and Local/State Funding Level
 
 
School Funding
  • Until the 1980s, the burden for public school funding in Pennsylvania was split relatively equally between the Commonwealth and local school districts. Since then, districts have shouldered a steadily increasing share of this responsibility. According to the most recent PASA-PASBO Report on School District Budgets, while state, and other externally-driven costs have increased, state revenue is down as a percent of overall public K-12 funding since 2008-2009. The report notes that between 2008-2009 and 2014-2015, the state's share in funding Pennsylvania's schools has decreased from 39% to 37%.
  • More than 90 percent of the 369 school districts that participated in the PASA-PASBO survey reported raising taxes since 2010, and among surveyed districts, the rate of increase in local spending more than doubled the state percentage increase from 2008-2009 to 2014-2015.
  • Survey results indicate that mandated costs (pension contributions, health care costs, special education services, and charter school payments) will continue to be a sizable burden for school districts.
 
State Funding Received by SCA Compared to its Pension and Health Care Costs
 
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
2013-14
2014-15
2015-16
2016-17 Est
9 year Average
Basic Ed
       4,282,896.01
      3,913,884.21
     3,850,361.31
    4,194,962.86
      4,256,780.89
        4,378,305.37
       4,349,275.64
   4,392,301.78
          4,592,477.00
         4,245,693.90
inc/(decr)
147,580.39
        (369,011.80)
         (63,522.90)
        344,601.55
            61,818.03
           121,524.48
          (29,029.73)
         43,026.14
              200,175.22
               38,697.62
%
3.57%
-8.62%
-1.62%
8.95%
1.47%
2.85%
-0.66%
0.99%
4.56%
1.28%
Retirement
          410,201.33
          420,573.19
         523,889.44
        756,138.52
      1,089,415.45
        1,473,517.00
       1,846,237.09
   2,172,012.78
          2,543,765.19
         1,248,416.67
Ret Reimb
          222,840.40
          234,339.99
         273,535.61
        401,633.73
          592,765.47
           776,384.00
          998,245.31
   1,128,273.14
          1,271,882.60
             655,544.47
Ret Dist Share
          187,360.93
          186,233.20
         250,353.83
        354,504.79
          496,649.98
           697,133.00
          847,991.78
   1,043,739.64
          1,271,882.60
             592,872.19
inc/(decr)
(107,741.31)
            (1,127.73)
           64,120.63
        104,150.96
          142,145.19
           200,483.02
          150,858.78
       195,747.86
              228,142.96
             108,531.15
%
-18.82%
-0.27%
15.25%
19.88%
18.80%
18.40%
10.24%
10.60%
10.50%
9.4%
Health Care
       1,234,471.03
      1,330,727.55
     1,294,006.20
    1,346,515.42
      1,186,356.33
        1,304,253.26
       1,506,872.37
   1,871,735.43
          2,680,034.09
         1,528,330.19
inc/(decr)
(44,398.37)
            96,256.52
         (36,721.35)
          52,509.22
        (160,159.09)
           117,896.93
          202,619.11
       364,863.06
              808,298.66
             155,684.97
%
-3.4%
7.80%
-2.76%
4.06%
-11.89%
9.94%
15.54%
24.21%
43.18%
9.62%
 
SCA Comparison from 2008-09 to 2015-16
 
 BEF
Retirement
Health Care
2015-16
       4,392,301.78
      1,043,739.64
     1,871,735.43
2008-09
       4,282,896.01
          187,360.93
     1,234,471.03
Increase
          109,405.77
          856,378.71
         637,264.40
%
2.55%
457.07%
51.62%
 
Pennsylvania school districts spent $2.3 billion on employee pension contributions in 2014-15, according to the latest annual reports from the Department of Education. This is a 252 percent increase ($1.8 billion) since 2008-09.  Through the 2015-2016, school year, Southern Columbia's pension costs have increased 457.07%.

 


PSERS Rates

HISTORY OF EMPLOYER PENSION CONTRIBUTION RATES

Fiscal Year

Employer Normal Cost

Employer Pension Rate

Health Care Constribution

Total Employer Contribution

01/02

5.63

0.00

1.09

1.09

02/03

7.20

0.18

0.97

1.15

03/04

7.25

2.98

0.79

3.77

04/05

7.48

4.00

0.23

4.23

05/06

7.61

4.00

0.69

4.69

06/07

6.62

5.72

0.74

6.46

07/08

6.68

6.44

0.69

7.13

08/09

6.68

4.00

0.76

4.76

09/10

7.35

4.00

0.78

4.78

10/11

8.08

5.00

0.64

5.64

11/12

8.12

8.00

0.65

8.65

12/13

8.66

11.50

0.86

12.36

13/14

8.57

16.00

0.93

16.93

14/15

8.46

20.50

0.90

21.40

15/16

8.38

25.00

0.84

25.84

16/17

8.31

29.20

0.83

30.03

17/18

7.70

31.74

0.83

32.57

 
On December 7, 2016, the PSERS Board of Trustees certified an employer contribution rate of 32.57% for fiscal year 2017-2018, which begins July 1, 2017. The 32.57% rate is composed of a 0.83% rate for health insurance premium assistance and a pension rate of 31.74%. Nearly 75% of the employer contribution rate is for the payment of unfunded liability, which is primarily for past service already earned by members.As the chart below illustrates, based on mandatory pension contribution rates, those costs will continue to climb.
 

PROJECTED EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION RATES AND TOTAL EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS

(Presumes a 7.25% rate of return)

Fiscal Year Ending June

Total Employer Contribution Rate %

Projected Total Employer Contribution (thousands) $

17/18

32.57

4,380,339

18/19

34.18

4,668,189

19/20

35.53

4,933,711

20/21

35.95

5,081,955

21/22

36.40

5,244,647


Local Taxes
 
Southern Columbia Area is among the 90% of Pennsylvania's schools who have raised taxes in response to stagnant state funding. The chart below shows a history of property tax increases in the District between 1998 and 2017. As demonstrated in the followng chart, the District's fiscal strategy for approximately 12 years (highlighted in yellow below) called for drawing down its fund balance while holding the line on property tax increases.
 

Southern Columbia AreaSchool District Tax Millage Since 1998

Fiscal Year 

1998-1999

1999-2000

2000-2001

2001-2002

2002-2003

2003-2004

2004-2005

2005-2006

2006-2007

2007-2008

2008-2009

2009-2010

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

Columbia County Millage

18.6

21

23.2

24.4

24.7

24.7

24.70

25.10

26.10

27.30

27.40

28.03

28.07

29.53

34.20

35.80

39.68

41.73

45.04

Northumberland County Millage

62.6

71.2

75.2

77.4

78.9

77.7

38.0

37.5

38.0

39.6

41.1

43.1

45.7

47.9

50.0

52.9

53.02

55.41

57.96

 

3-Year Phase-In for Renovations

 

 

 

  Act 1 Index

5.1%

4.4%

5.8%

5.3%

3.8%

1.8%

2.2%

2.2%

2.7%

2.5%

3.1%

 
The chart below shows the District's fund balance from 1996 through 2013. The District's fiscal health is recovering from its nadir of 2011-2012. Through June 30, 2015, the District has rebuilt its reserves to $1,666,103.88, Also recovering is its capital reserve fund. As of February 2017, this fund's balance stood at $129,330.90.
 
 
The Commonwealth Foundation has created a sortable database which provides a look at the total fund balance for each Pennsylvania school district, as well as each district’s total expenditures in 2014-15. It also includes each district’s fund balance as a percentage of total expenditures.State law requires that districts seeking tax hikes limit their unassigned fund balances to 8 to 12 percent of total spending. According to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale more than 300 of the 747 districts, charter schools and career and technical centers had fund balances topping 20 percent of their total expenditures in 2014-2015. Southern Columbia's fund balance equaled 9.08% of its expenditures.

Comparison of Southern Columbia to Neighboring Districts
 
 
 
The chart to the left shows the changes in local taxes per student (inflation adjusted) between 2001-2002 and 2014-2015. As you can see, Southern compares favorably to its neighboring districts. When looking at tax changes overall, during this time period, SCA's increased 28%. To see how all Pennsylvania school districts fared click the following link: All Pennsylvania Schools  
 
Listed below is a chart showing the change in tax dollars allocated per student and its corresponding percentage change for Columbia County's schools. It compares the dollar amount allocated in 2001-2002 to that in 2014-2015. Click on this link to open a file listing all Pennsylvania schools.
 
The source of the above information is openpagov.org.
 
 
 
 
 

PDE Financial Data Resources
 
The information below is maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and contains information drawn from each school district's Annual Financial Report (AFR).
 
Revenues
Local Revenue:  1993-94 to 2002-03 | 2003-04 to 2014-15 (Excel)
State Revenue:  1993-94 to 2002-03 | 2003-04 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Federal Revenue:  2003-04 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Other Revenue:  2003-04 to 2014-15 (Excel)
 
Expenditures
Expenditure Detail - SDs:  1995-96 to 2000-01 | 2001-02 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Object-Level Expenditures:  1997-98 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Support Services:  1998-99 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Actual Instruction Expense:  1994-95 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Tuition Schedule:  2003-04 to 2014-15 (Excel)
 
Miscellaneous
General Fund Balance:  1996-97 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Local Property Taxes Collected:  1981-82 to 2014-15 (Excel)
Short- and Long-Term Debt:  1996-97 to 2014-15 (Excel)