Pennsylvania Budget Includes More Money For Education

Pennsylvania Budget Includes More Money For Education
Your advocacy has helped to ensure significant increases in education funding for the 2022-23 school year in Pennsylvania. The $45.3 billion budget signed last week represents an increase of $1.3 billion, or 3%, from last year’s budget when supplemental spending and federal stimulus spending are included.

Top Level Highlights

·         A $525 million increase in the Basic Education (BEF) subsidy to be run through the BEF formula.

·         A $225 million Level-Up Supplement for 100 school districts.

·         A $100 million increase in the Special Education (SEF) subsidy.

·         A $6.1 million increase for career and technical education, the first boost for CTE since the 2019-20 budget.

·         $200 million of additional funding for school safety and security and mental health initiatives.

·         The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) received more than a 15% increase, or a $75 million boost, in basic funding, the largest one-time increase since the system was founded in 1983.

·         PASSHE will also receive $125 million in one-time stimulus funds to help it continue to a system redesign.

·         PA Community Colleges will receive an $11 million increase, about 4%.

It is possible that many districts across Pennsylvania did not anticipate this level of funding from the state. Using the links below, you can see how much funding your district will receive. Pay particular attention if your district is receiving any Level Up funding. Now is the time to have conversations with administrators to see if they have unanticipated funding that can be used for music education.

Click HERE for estimated basic and special education distributions for each school district.

Click HERE for the estimated distribution of school safety and mental health grants for each school district.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at

2022 NAMM Foundation Best Communites for Music Education

Congratulations to the 738 school districts that are among the Best Communities in the nation for music education and the 80 schools that received the SupportMusic Merit Award (SMMA) from The NAMM Foundation! The award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education.  Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.

Learn more at

Here are the Pennsylvania Best Communities and SupportMusic Merit Award designees. Congratulations!

Best Communities for Music Education

Clarks Summit PA 18411-1737
Abington PA 19001-4535
Reading PA 19606-1000
Kittanning PA 16201-7025
West Grove PA 19390-8908
Pittsburgh PA 15237-1223
Wingate PA 16823-4740
Pittsburgh PA 15236-1817
Bellefonte PA 16823-1613
Bensalem PA 19020-1829
Bethel Park PA 15102-1689
Newville PA 17241-9412
Boyertown PA 19512-9699
Lower Burrell PA 15068-8745
Patton PA 16668-6803
Canonsburg PA 15317-1305
Warminster PA 18974-4866
Doylestown PA 18901-2359
York PA 17406-1554
Clairton PA 15025-1559
Plymouth Meeting PA 19462-1252
Lancaster PA 17601-6006
Lebanon PA 17042-7505
Newtown PA 18940-2202
Mechanicsburg PA 17050-1711
Milford PA 18337-9347
Hershey PA 17033-1591
Dover PA 17315-1306
Downingtown PA 19335-3459
DuBois PA 15801-2408
North Versailles PA 15137-2726
East Stroudsburg PA 18301-2150
Easton PA 18040-8186
Reading PA 19606-2839
Murrysville PA 15668-1551
Sarver PA 16055-9202
Glen Mills PA 19342-1751
Shillington PA 19607-2642
Latrobe PA 15650-3038
Hanover PA 17331-1588
Havertown PA 19083-1532
Greensburg PA 15601-6411
Hollidaysburg PA 16648-2100
Vandergrift PA 15690-1466
Kutztown PA 19530-9693
Lewisburg PA 17837-1296
Ardmore PA 19003-3338
Huntingdon Valley PA 19006
Williamsport PA 17701-1938
Lancaster PA 17601-2877
Newtown Square PA 19073-4647
Eagleville PA 19403-1048
Lewistown PA 17044-1157
Montoursville PA 17754-1902
Moon Township PA 15108-4202
Pittsburgh PA 15228-1128
Nazareth PA 18064-2332
Langhorne PA 19047-8245
Norristown PA 19403-2745
Pittsburgh PA 15237-5344
PIttsburgh PA 15229-1233
Lansdale PA 19446-3961
Ashland PA 17921-9300
Manchester PA 17345-1119
Loysburg PA 16659-9549
Dillsburg PA 17019-9636
New Tripoli PA 18066-2038
North Huntingdon PA 15642-2403
New Hope PA 18938-1392
Oley PA 19547-8774
Allentown PA 18104-2119
Perkasie PA 18944-1898
Fallsington PA 19054-1119
Collegeville PA 19426-2042
Philipsburg PA 16866-2640
Phoenixville PA 19460-4457
Pine Grove PA 17963-1698
Plum PA 15239-1026
Swiftwater PA 18370-0200
Port Allegany PA 16743-1514
Pottstown PA 19464-2303
Pottstown PA 19464-5502
Red Lion PA 17356-9185
Lancaster PA 17603-5396
Philadelphia PA 19130-4015
Oreland PA 19075-2418
Glenshaw PA 15116-2117
Shenandoah PA 17976-1441
New Castle PA 16101-6095
Quarryville PA 17566-1225
Somerset PA 15501-2513
Hookstown PA 15050
Center Valley PA 18034-8439
Scottdale PA 15683-1066
Spring Grove PA 17362-1200
Springfield PA 19064-2348
Royersford PA 19468-2711
State College PA 16801-7951
Stroudsburg PA 18360-1315
Wayne PA 19087-1856
Washington PA 15301-5713
Tunkhannock PA 18657-1200
Kennett Square PA 19348-1531
Maple Glen PA 19002-3315
Upper St. Clair PA 15241-2304
Wallingford PA 19086-6334
Lititz PA 17543-1814
Imperial PA 15126-2161
Exton PA 19341-2850
New Cumberland PA 17070-3099
York PA 17408-9900
Whitehall PA 18052-3408
Williamsport PA 17701-4137
West Lawn PA 19609-1324
Braddock PA 15104-2418
Wyomissing PA 19610-2636
York PA 17403-4256
Herminie PA 15637-1226

SupportMusic Merit Award

PA 17236-9692
PA 17601-4360
PA 19010-2101
PA 15132-7423
PA 16830-2206
PA 16351-1222
PA 15221-1607

View PMEA’s Music Education Advocacy Day Live Stream

To kick off PMEA’s 2022 Advocacy Day, we hosted a special livestream.

The livestream event was hosted by PMEA’s Director of Public and Government Affairs, Mark Despotakis and guests included:

Phil Stattel, PMEA President
Emily Brumbaugh, PMEA Advocacy Council Chair
Miranda Moore, Miss Pennsylvania Candidate
State Senator Carolyn Comitta
SPECIAL GUEST – Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega

March 29, 2022 PMEA Advocacy Day Information

Due to ongoing COVID and security concerns, PMEA’s 2022 Advocacy Day will be a hybrid event.

Monday, March 28th at 7 pm – Join us at, on Facebook, and on YouTube for a special livestream to celebrate music education in Pennsylvania. We’ll have special guests, explain our 2022 policy issues, and tell you how you can EASILY advocate for music education.

Tuesday, March 29th – All music education advocates will be able to advocate to their state representatives via an online form PMEA will distribute. This will literally take just a minute and your participation is extremely helpful in our advocacy efforts.

A few PMEA representatives will be in Harrisburg on Tuesday, March 29th to meet with policymakers. Any PMEA member is welcome and encouraged to participate as well. We would ask that you make an appointment with your state representative and state senator.

If you are coming to Harrisburg for in-person meetings, please let us know at We will be able to provide you with further information and answer any questions you might have.

If you plan to attend in person, we encourage you to reach out by phone or email to schedule an appointment with your representatives for March 29th. You can find contact information for your
member of the PA House and your member of the PA Senate when you use the search box to find your representative. If you know of other PMEA members from your area trying to visit the same representative, it’s best to coordinate your meeting time and meet together.

Since March 29th is a session day in the state legislature, It is possible to schedule a meeting with your representative. However it is possible you will be scheduled for a meeting with a staffer. There is nothing wrong with that and in many cases can be advantageous.

The capitol complex can be a bit confusing. There will be maps on site but you’ll want to make sure to leave at least 10-15 minutes to get to your meeting from the Main Rotunda or the Irvis Office Building.

When you are in your meetings, explain who PMEA is and then discuss our legislative asks, which you can find below. Do not discuss other issues. You are representing PMEA and the music education profession. It’s important to have a consistent and unified message from all of our members. If you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer, just say that you will find out and get back to them. If you’ve never been in a legislative meeting, there’s nothing to be nervous about. You’ll find that those you meet with are genuinely interested in listening to you. Always take a card of those you are meeting with and follow up with a thank you email.

It’s possible you will receive some pushback because the budget is a very hot topic in Harrisburg.
Remember to stay on message with the talking points provided. Your job is to explain the issues and show representatives where issues exist. Their job is to work on a solution.

Unlike other years, PMEA will not hold a press conference in the Rotunda on Advocacy Day. However, at noon in the Capitol Rotunda in March 29th, Senator Carolyn Comitta will offer some remarks and the Great Valley Middle School Orchestra will perform. You are welcome to attend that event.

Also, for those attending in person, we will provide you with a document to share with your representatives. Because we want to make sure every member of the General Assembly receives our message about the importance of music education, we will also ask for some assistance in dropping off these documents to offices where no in-person meetings are scheduled.

2022 PMEA Policy Playbook – All of PMEA’s legislative asks and the context behind them

2022 PMEA Legislative Leave Behind Document

Background Document – Physical Education Credit for Marching Band Participation

 What to Expect in a Legislative Meeting if You Are Dropping Off An Information Packet – Some quick information about what you might expect in a legislative meeting.

Pennsylvania Public School Funding History – A history of education funding in Pennsylvania put together by the Education Law Center.

Pennsylvania Arts Education in Public Schools – A review of arts education requirements in Pennsylvania put together by David Deitz.


Harrisburg Parking Information –

Harrisburg Weather –

Harrisburg Dining –

Substitute Teacher Legislation Signed Into Law

On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 91 of 2021 into law. Act 91 is intended to assist with the current substitute teacher shortage. Highlights of the bill include:
  • For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, allows a school employer to hire a retiree if there is an emergency or shortage of day-to-day substitute teachers.
  • Allows individuals holding day-to-day substitute permits to serve as a substitute in any certificate area for up to 20 days substituting for the same teacher. If the service exceeds 20 days, a long-term substitute permit is required. An individual may serve as a day-to-day substitute for more than one educator as long as each assignment does not last more than 20 days.
  • Allows individuals holding a valid and active Pennsylvania certificate or comparable out-of-state certificate to serve as a day-to-day substitute in the individual’s certificate area for up to 20 days. If the service exceeds 20 days or if a certified individual is substituting outside of their certificate area, an emergency permit is required.
  • Expands the substitute teacher program for prospective teachers for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years by removing the 10-day limit to substitute for the same teacher and 20-day limit to serve as a substitute for multiple teachers.
  • Extends the time limit for an individual with an inactive certification to be employed as a substitute from 90 days to 180 days.
  • Allows individuals who have completed a teacher preparation program and are in the process of scheduling the required testing to be issued a temporary substitute certificate. For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, the certificate may be used for assignments of more than 20 consecutive days.
  • Creates a new permit for a classroom monitor to deliver assignments that are pre-planned by a teacher. The monitor may not plan lessons, create or grade student work. The monitor must meet certain education requirements and/or be currently employed as a paraprofessional.

PMEA Endorses Arts Education for All Act

WASHINGTON, DC [10/15/21] – Congresswomen Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) introduced comprehensive legislation to increase access to arts education.

The Arts Education for All Act will support and encourage arts education and programming for our young children, K-12 students, and youth and adults involved in the justice system. It will help to close existing gaps in access to arts education, which has the potential to improve the lifelong health and success of both children and adults.

“The arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education, especially now when innovative thinking and creative problem solving are in high demand,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services and Co-Chair of the STEAM Caucus. “Providing all students with the opportunity to receive a quality arts education is a matter of equity. Arts education should be available to all students, not just those who have artistic families or the financial resources to pay for an arts education on their own. I envision a better future where everyone can enrich their lives through the arts, and the Arts Education for All Act will help make that a reality.”

“Arts education improves the lives of children, nurtures their creativity, and helps maintain their well-being. Yet the arts are often the first programs to be cut in schools. While I’m grateful for existing federal support for arts education, we should be making programs more accessible and encouraging students and educators to get more involved,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Arts Caucus and Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which oversees funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. “I’m proud to introduce this bill alongside Congresswoman Bonamici to help put the ‘A’ back in STE(A)M, and move full steam ahead on supporting arts programming and education access for all.”

“Art teachers across my district shared stories of the power that arts education has on our youngest children. It opens up a love for learning and allows them to thrive in new and exciting ways. The arts also help us celebrate our cultures, our identities, and communities,” said Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández. “I’m proud to join Rep. Bonamici on the Arts Education for All Act to give educators the support they need to expand arts programming experiences for children of all ages. It will ensure they can foster a learning environment that promotes creativity, expression, and healing through art.”

The Arts Education for All Act has been endorsed by more than 100 national, state, and local organizations, including the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Americans for the Arts, National Association of Music Merchants, and Grantmakers in the Arts.

The full list of endorsements can be found here.

“From her direct engagement throughout the arts sector, to successfully including pro-arts amendments in the Every Student Succeeds Act, Rep. Bonamici has once again proven herself to be a champion for arts education,” said Nolen V. Bivens, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts. “Americans for the Arts considers the “Arts Education for All Act” to be the most comprehensive arts education bill ever introduced in Congress and is proud to endorse it. We will work to advance this legislation alongside arts education stakeholders in music, dance, theater, visual, and media arts in order to pursue increased access and equity for all learners.”

“The Arts Education for All Act will help bring the power of arts education to early childhood programs, low-income K12 students and systems-involved youth on a scale we haven’t seen before,” said Eddie Torres, President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. “By empowering childcare, K12 schools, and programs serving systems-involved youth, this bill has the potential to enrich lives and expand educational opportunities for millions,” said Eddie Torres, President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. “The arts community, but most importantly the children of our nation, owe a great deal of thanks to the innovative leadership of Representative Bonamici for introducing this critical legislation.”

A one-page summary of the Arts Education for All Act can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Bishop (D-GA), Bowman (D-NY), Cárdenas (D-NY), Cicilline (D-RI), Cohen (D-TN), Cooper (D-TN), Jayapal (D-WA), Jackson Lee (D-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), McGovern (D-MA), Norton (D-DC), Raskin (D-MD), Ross (D-NC), and Titus (D-NV).

Pennsylvania Masking Order

Important Information About the Pennsylvania Department of Health
School Masking Order
  • On August 31, 2021, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health signed an Order requiring face coverings to be worn in all school entities, including school districts, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers, intermediate units, and early learning and other child care settings, effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
  • The order spells out specific exemptions to wearing face coverings – including playing instruments. You may want to make your administrators aware of this language.
  • Mitigation strategies are available for the music classroom. Download a poster for your classroom or to share with your administrators, students, and community members about ways to make music with COVID-19 precautions in mind. This poster has been updated to reflect updated guidance from July 2021.
  • Instrument bell covers and a three foot distance is still recommended in addition to other mitigation guidance.
If you have questions or need specific assistance, you can always reach out to us at

Back To School Resources from PMEA

Resources from PMEA to Begin The 2021-22 School Year
Updated COVID-19 Precautions
  • As most schools and students return to in-person instruction, we believe it is appropriate for students to participate in music making activities in individual and ensemble settings provided appropriate precautions are taken based on local guidelines and the comfort level of those involved. Just this week NAfME & NFHS released New Resources to help music educators, stakeholders and decision-makers ensure that music education is available to all students and provided safely.
  • Currently, there is no mask mandate in Pennsylvania. However, local school districts may require masks or other mitigation strategies. It’s important to be aware of the current guidance in your school or community.
  • Download a poster for your classroom or to share with your administrators, students, and community members about ways to make music with COVID-19 precautions in mind. This poster has been updated to reflect updated guidance from July 2021.
  • Instrument bell covers and a three foot distance is still recommended in addition to other mitigation guidance.
Education Funding
  • As decisions are being made in schools, it’s important for you to know funding realities. This information is designed to arm you with the knowledge to make the case if there are threats to your program.
  • Schools have been faced with an unprecedented amount of challenges in the last year and a half. Many of those challenges caused school budgets to be strained. The good news is that there is more money flowing into education to help schools.
  • In Pennsylvania, $200 million was added to the basic education subsidy that schools receive. And $100 million was added as part of the “Level Up” initiative which provides funding to the most underfunded districts in the state. Your school district likely has received more funding from the state than they did last year.
  • The federal government has provided relief funds specifically for education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). These funds can be used through September 2024. You can view a PMEA webinar about these funds.
  • The United States Department of Education specifically called out how these funds can be used for music education in guidance published in May.
  • These funds may also be used to support an educator’s salary. If a program was hurt because of COVID-19 (ex. low recruitment numbers for music programs) and a school district wants to reduce or eliminate a position because of the impact of COVID, ESSER funds can be used to support the salary of an educator as they rebuild the program to pre-COVID levels when the school district was able to fully fund the position.
  • The biggest challenges music programs may face this year is scheduling. There is a possibility that remediation in some subject areas will cut into learning time in music and the arts.
  • The Pennsylvania ESSER Guidebook provided to school districts specifically states that schools should provide equitable opportunities for students. This language is another tool for you to share with decision makes if music programs are marginalized by other subject areas.
  • The guidebook states that schools should:
  • Refrain from scheduling tutoring or other supports at times when students would need to miss opportunities for enrichment and critical and creative thinking in order to participate. Rather, create more opportunities for disproportionally impacted students to close opportunity and access gaps.
  • Take care not to make students feel inferior because of their participation in interventions to address educational harms.
  • Avoid punishing students by taking away their recess, specials, or other social activities to gain learning time.
  • Provide opportunities for students to be immediately successful with accelerated learning activities. Build on student strengths.
  • Ensure that school time is used especially well to maximize learning time. Extended learning time can only be effective if time during the regular school day is also used as effectively as possible.
PMEA will continue to work with various stakeholders and advocate for music programs as we face continuing and varying challenges of the pandemic. The science shows us there are ways to mitigate risk while making music. We know the value of music making for our students and ourselves. To that end, PMEA will continue to to work towards providing opportunities for in person music making across Pennsylvania.
If you have questions or need specific assistance, you can always reach out to us at

Pennsylvania 2021-22 State Budget

Governor Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania 2021-22 state budget and other laws this week. Here is a breakdown of impacts to education.

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State Budget

The $40.8 billion budget is a spending increase of $1 billion, or 2.6% from last year’s budget when supplemental spending and federal stimulus spending is included.

The budget utilizes about $1 billion of the $7.3 billion the state received in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, with the General Assembly opting to hold the balance of that money which is allowable and  can be used over the next three years. In addition the state had nearly $3 billion in surplus revenue to work with.

The state made a $2.52 billion deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing the balance to a historic $2.76 billion. The record-high boost to that fund was made possible because of surplus revenue plus the previously noted $7.3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

Included in the budget are:

  • $200 million increase for basic education, the main stream of state dollars for school districts. The money will be distributed through the state’s fair funding formula passed into law in 2016.
  • $100 million for Level Up, a new initiative providing additional funding to the 100 most underfunded districts in the state. This additional $100 million was a compromise measure as Governor Wolf unsuccessfully pushed for a substantially larger amount of money for education this year in an effort to have all money going to K-12 education funnel through the fair funding formula.
  • $50 million increase for special education.
  • $30 million increase for early education, which includes $25 million to expand Pre-K Counts and $5 million to expand Head Start.
  • The Pennsylvania State Higher Education System, was level funded at $ 477.5 million. However, the system received $50 million from the federal ARP funds to be dedicated to the system re-design. That re-design has not been approved and has been controversial. PMEA continues to monitor the re-design process and how it may impact music education programs at state system schools.
  • The proposed Nellie Bly scholarship that was designed to provide scholarships for students attending Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools is not included in the budget.
  • The budget includes a $225 million allocation — a $40 million increase — toward the state Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which gives tax credits to businesses that fund scholarships for private schools.

This spreadsheet from the Pennsylvania Department of Education spells out district funds coming from the state to districts as well as level up amounts.

Any increase in the basic education subsidy is a win as Pennsylvania continues to fall behind other states in the percentage of state support for public education.

Other Notable Legislation

Renewal of Substitute Teacher Provision for Prospective Educators
Intermediate units and area career and technical schools may utilize individuals training to be teachers to serve as a substitute teacher, provided the individual has valid clearances and at least 60 credit hours.

Optional year of instruction due to COVID-19
This bill provides extended special education enrollment as well as an optional year of education for students due to the pandemic. Parents must elect to enroll the student by July 15, 2021. The PA Department of Education will create a standard election form for parents to use.

Under the bill, a special education student who has reached age 21 during the 2020-21 school year or before the start of the 2021-22 school year may continue to be enrolled for the upcoming year.

The bill also permits any student under the age of 18 to repeat a grade level of instruction for the 2021-22 school year at the parent’s request; a child at or over the age of 18 may also make a request. The student may continue to participate in academic or extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics.