WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. -- The Shenango Valley Initiative believes Pennsylvania's system for funding public education is flawed and must be changed.
The congregation-based community activist group will join with sister organizations from Erie and Pittsburgh to conduct a public meeting on the issue at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 in Church of the Good Shepherd Parish Center, 3613 Sharon Road.
State legislators from western Pennsylvania are being invited.
"Our goal is to evoke a commitment to support future legislation that increases the state's contribution to schools," said Rev. Ralph T. Newell, SVI president.
State funding: Pennsylvania was providing half of the money needed to fund public schools 20 years ago but provides about 35 percent of the cost today, the Rev. Mr. Newell said.
The difference has been made up by the local school districts, primarily by raising property taxes, and SVI believes that is a burden many communities can no longer support.
The plan is to ask legislators to take action in support of equitable school funding, he said.
Lawmakers did pass House Bill 42 last session, creating the House Select Committee for Sensible School Funding, and that body will hold public hearings, gather information and provide draft legislation by Sept. 15 to improve school funding.
At least one member of that committee has promised to attend the SCI forum, said Bob Clarke, an SVI spokesman. The plan is to show Harrisburg that western Pennsylvania has its act together on this issue, Clarke said.
The Congregational Action to Lift with Love of Erie and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, sister groups to SVI, will participate in the forum.