This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
Viewed from the state superintendent's office, or from the position of an advocate of efficient schools, it is largely a matter of indifference what shall be the source of the funds for financing elementary schools. If sufficient revenues are forthcoming to pay the expenses of employing good teachers and of providing adequate equipment for the schools, no further questions need be asked. In Pennsylvania, however, these funds have come from two sources: local taxation and the state appropriation. It is conceivable that a state superintendent might appeal both to the legislature and to the local taxing authorities for more ample financial support. But the latter were numerous and difficult to influence. Furthermore, since the superintendent was a state officer, and since he had the dispensing of the state appropriation, it was but natural that his appeal should be most frequently made to the General Assembly. It must not be assumed, however, because of the frequent reference made in his reports to the inadequacy of the state appropriation, that the blame for lack of funds was always to be laid at the door of the legislature. The problem of getting the necessary revenue must be considered from two points of view. In the first place, when funds are said to be inadequate an explanation of the failure of the localities to increase taxation must be sought. And, in the second place, the reason for the inaction of the state legislature must also be explained.
The progress of the school system and the varying proportions in which the state and the localities contributed to the support of the schools from 1874 to 1888 is shown in the following table:
by state appropriation
10 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1914), pp. 616-617. The total of all receipts as set forth in the report from which these data are taken is not given, because it appears to contain amounts received from loans and balances carried over from previous years.
11 Fiscal year ending first Monday in June.
The increase in the needs of the school system is best measured by the increase in the average number of children attending the schools. In 1874, as shown by the table, the number was 468,309; in 1888 it was 573,041, or an increase of 22.4 per cent. The number of teachers increased from 17,664 to 21,168 or 19.8 per cent, in the same period. If allowance is made for the expansion of curricula during this time and for the grading of many schools, *14 it would seem that the increase in the teaching staff had certainly not been as rapid as the increase in the need for teachers as measured by the growth of school attendance. On the other hand, it must be remembered that in 1874 the attendance in many schools was below the maximum that the teaching staff could care for. Although it is not possible to obtain an exact numerical equivalent of the need for teachers, the data presented show clearly that the teaching staff did not increase as rapidly as the total expenditure for school purposes, or the number of pupils.
12 The variations from year to year in the amount of the state appropriation— e.g., 1876 to 1879—are partly due to payment of a portion of the subvention due in one year in the succeeding year.
13 The excess of total expenditures over the sum of the state appropriations and taxes locally is due to loans and miscellaneous revenue and in some instances to accumulated balances.
14 It should be remembered that the data for Philadelphia are not included in this table.