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  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

School Board Has the Power to Raise Taxes: Public Education in PA Part 2

The Public School Code of 1949 is the law that regulates education in Pennsylvania. The document is nearly 1400 pages and includes the following (and much more!):

Any and all policies, educational decisions, tax increases (as related to school tax), sports, extra curricular activities, food provisions, transportation, number of school days per year, etc., are subject to the law as outlined in the Public School Code of 1949. Anything and everything a school district chooses to do (or fails to do) must be done according to the Public School Code.

Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that is subject to Dillon's Rule, named after Iowa Supreme Court Justice John F. Dillon. Dillon's Rule is based on the philosophy that local governments (including school districts) must only exercise powers that are expressly granted to them by the state.

Thus, when our school board votes (whether to raise taxes, change curriculum, add a policy, etc.) the questions that they must ask and answer are:

  • Has the Commonwealth of PA given me the power to make this decision?

  • Is this (vote on policy, tax increase etc.) consistent with the law as outlined in the Public School Code of 1949?

How many of our school board members are asking this of themselves and/or asking this of the attorneys who advise them on policy decisions?


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