Phillips-Hill’s Legislation Subjecting School Boards Association to Right-to-Know Law Approved by Senate Committee

HARRISBURG – In a move to bring greater transparency and accountability in public education, the Senate State Government Committee approved legislation that would subject the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) to the state’s Right-to-Know Law, according to the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York). This legislation underscores the necessity for public access to information regarding how taxpayer dollars are utilized by entities that are part of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).

Despite PSBA being a private, nonprofit membership association that serves elected school board directors, the association staff enjoy the same benefits as public school teachers by participating in the public pension program through the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).

“If the association and its staff enjoy the same level of benefit as public school employees through the public pension program, then it only makes sense that those benefits come with the same stipulations placed on every public school and state entity in this state, by subjecting them to the Right-to-Know law,” Phillips-Hill said.

Phillips-Hill pointed out that the timing of this is crucial as the House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation that would mandate every new school director to be trained by the PSBA to serve on local school boards.

“This measure is a critical step toward ensuring that all entities involved in the public education system are held to the same standards of transparency and accountability. The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being spent and the decisions being made that affect their child’s education,” she added.

By bringing PSBA under the purview of the Right-to-Know Law, Phillips-Hill argues the state is furthering its commitment to transparency and ensuring that educational institutions remain accountable to the public they serve. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) is a public entity and subject to the Right-to-Know Law. The opinion says the PIAA takes tax dollars and money from various public schools and therefore the General Assembly’s classification of PIAA as a state-affiliated entity for the purpose of qualifying under the Right-to-Know Law is valid and “furthers a legitimate state interest of transparency in PIAA’s use of public funds in a matter which dramatically impacts students’ lives.” This is another example of an association, taking taxpayer dollars and now falling under the purview of the Right-to-Know Law.  

The legislation heads to the full Senate for consideration.


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