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Explaining School Fund Balances: An Update

This policy brief summarizes fund balances for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts as of the close of fiscal year 2013-14. It updates the policy brief summarizing such balances for fiscal year 2012-13, published by CORP last August. Accompanying this year’s brief and available at are fund balances for all 500 districts, as well as for charter and technical schools, for both fiscal years to allow users to understand trends for individual districts as well as for the state as a whole. Both briefs explain the four types of fund balances under government accounting standards and the restrictions on unassigned balances under state law. In addition to serving as a hedge against economic and budgetary uncertainty, fund balances for many school districts reflect to varying degrees concerns arising from Commonwealth policies, such as the underfunding of pensions, freezes in state support for capital projects, and the historical experience of state budget delays. David Davare, author of both fund balance briefs, is an advisor to CORP and the University Consortium to Improve Public School Finance and Promote Economic Growth. He also oversees the Harrisburg office of the Pennsylvania Economy League’s Central Division and formerly served as research director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Published: June 2015
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