State Senate Education Committee advances bill bolstering career, technical education funding

Credit: Sen. Lindsey Williams

The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced legislation Tuesday that would provide more predictability in yearly funding for career and technical education programs.

Senate Bill 366, introduced by state Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-38), would require that the data used to calculate Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding be fixed on June 1 of each year. This change will give Career and Technical Centers greater predictability over their budgets and aligns the CTE funding formula with the Special Education and Basic Education funding formulas.

“Career and Technical Education gives students across Pennsylvania hands-on workforce training and credentialing that leads to family sustaining careers, often at low- or no-cost to students,” said Williams, who serves as the Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “This administrative change will give our CTCs the financial predictability they need to offer or expand programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs in the trades, healthcare, education, food preparation, and more.”

Currently, career and technical education funding is determined under the Public School Code, which requires the CTE funding formula to include the most recently available data from the state. This information is updated in the middle of the fiscal year, meaning career and technical schools cannot predict their funding for the next year, even after the state budget is passed.

Dr. Darby Copeland, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Career & Technical Administrators and executive director of Parkway West, testified at a Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) hearing hosted by Williams in October that the current method of funding leaves CTCs “unable to open new programs necessary to support regional workforce and economic development” and often hinders their ability to update facilities, grow student enrollment, or offer new programs.

The bipartisan Senate Bill 366 is co-sponsored by all six Senate members of the Basic Education Funding commission. It has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.