2012 Sample Letter to Legislators by FSCQkCWI

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									                                   SAMPLE LETTER TO LEGISLATORS
(Letter writers will need to change the highlighted areas)

Month, Date, 2012

The Honorable Name Goes Here
Street Address
City, PA ZIP

Senator/Representative Name:

Westmont Hilltop School District needs action from state lawmakers. Our district suffers from a unique set of
circumstances that threaten the very life of our community. In spite of painful budget cuts, personnel layoffs and pay
freezes, school property taxes continue to rise. Our per-pupil spending is well below the state average. Of the 500
school districts in Pennsylvania, only nine spend less to educate a student than Westmont Hilltop. Still, our
residents have endured 24 years of consecutive tax increases!
The cause is an unfair state funding formula that forces residents to send approximately $11 million in personal
income tax dollars to Harrisburg every year, with only $3 million in Basic Education Funding (BEF) returning to
educate the district’s students. While many local districts receive 70 percent or more of their cost for educating a
student from the state, in Westmont Hilltop, that figure is closer to 30 percent. Local taxpayers are forced to make up
the difference.
Just to be clear, this is a funding issue, not a spending issue. We have cut staff, contained costs and delayed
building renovations and new building projects. The problem is the outdated aid ratio and formula that determines
how much BEF our district receives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2011-12, for instance, our
$1,970-per-student subsidy was substantially lower than the average received by other school districts in
our county.
If Westmont Hilltop were allotted the Cambria County average BEF subsidy per student, the district would receive
approximately $5.8 million or the equivalent of 45.3 mills in tax dollars. This money is currently coming out of the
pockets of local taxpayers. Today, our real estate millage stands at 86.2—a full 35.2 mills above the Cambria
County average. It’s just not right.
Due to inequities in the current funding formula, homeowners in our district may face their 25th consecutive tax
increase. With yet another proposed reduction in state education funding, increasing costs associated with unfunded
state mandates, escalating pension payments and growing cyber school tuition, our projected budget shortfall for
the 2012-13 currently stands at nearly $1 million. Meanwhile, the value of homes in our district has plummeted by
35 percent due to the high rate of taxation.
The only solution is for lawmakers to change the funding formula as it applies to our school district. I urge you to
consider how this unfair funding structure is affecting our schools, our students and our taxpayers. Take action! A
solution is needed immediately.

Sincerely,


Your Name Goes Here
Your Street Address
Johnstown, PA 15905
(814) Your Phone Number

								
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