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Pennsylvania School Boards Ask Court to Order State to Pay Districts

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is asking the court to compel the state to immediately pay school districts subsidies they should have received by Feb. 25.

The advocacy group filed the new demand in Commonwealth Court on Wednesday.

It's the latest move in a lawsuit the group filed in January against the state treasurer, education secretary, governor, and other state officials over the state's failure to pay school districts all federal and state funds because of a protracted budget stalemate.

The January lawsuit also demanded that the state reimburse the districts for expenses they incurred while trying to stay afloat during the budget crisis.

Through January, Pennsylvania school districts had borrowed nearly $1 billion to stay open.

According to the school boards' association, the subsidies are disbursed to districts at five points during the year—on the last Thursday of August, October, December, and February and on the first day of June.

The school boards' association demand is for the Feb. 25 payments. It also wants all future payments to be made on time and for the state to pay each district no less than that district received in the 2014-15 school year.

As the budget impasses dragged on late last year, the state provided districts with some emergency relief. But that money was less than districts received the previous school year, and it is running out, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported this week.

"We regret that it has come to this, but it is the right thing to do for our members," Nathan Mains, the group's executive director, said.

"We are hearing from too many districts that without state funding, they are seriously contemplating closing schools, if not this academic year, certainly in the fall. Schools need immediate relief now from this man-made problem. The ramifications of no budget and schools shutting down [are] extremely serious for the stability of Pennsylvania."

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