Kevin McCorry

Kevin McCorry, Keystone Crossroads

A telecom technician by trade, Schuylkill County homeowner Ron Boltz is not your typical suit-and-tie Harrisburg lobbyist. He's a self-taught policy wonk who walks the halls of the Capitol in jeans and polo shirt — burning endless vacation days in an effort to convince lawmakers to abandon nearly 200 years of history and reimagine the state's tax structure and school finance scheme. 

Keystone Crossroads

(Keystone Crossroads) Recently, we published a story that analyzed the effects of the dramatic enrollment swings that have taken place in Pennsylvania school districts over the past 25 years. The interactive graphic above was included in that piece, but it's worth noting as a tool in and of itself.

(Keystone Crossroads) School district enrollment levels have dramatically shifted in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years. Many rural districts in the western part of the state have seen steep declines, while many urban, suburban, and eastern districts have grown. In all, more than a third of the state's 500 districts have either grown or shrank by more than 25 percent since 1991. 

Emma Lee/WHYY


(Keystone Crossroads) Some charter schools operate like islands — day-to-day they run independently of any higher or centralized power. Others contract with a management organization — sometimes part of a big network, sometimes not. Sometimes for-profit, sometimes not. 

Emma Lee, WHYY

Thomas Short loves that his two sons attend St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary school in South Philadelphia. He says it makes a world of difference for his boys — fearing they would falter in a less structured environment. 

 (Keystone Crossroads) The interactive map above allows you to see how each of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts would be affected if lawmakers chose to implement the state's new funding formula more rapidly. The new formula has been lauded for bringing a measure of rationality and fairness to the state's funding scheme.

In northwest Pennsylvania, along the edge of Lake Erie, you'll find the city of Erie.

There, the superintendent of the more than 12,000-student district has forwarded a plan that's causing a stir — calling for leaders to consider shutting down all of the district's high schools and sending students to the wealthier, whiter, suburban districts.


Superintendent Jay Badams says it's a "matter of fairness."

Bastiaan Slabbers/ For NewsWorks

Pennsylvania continues to wrestle with an essential question for the future of its people and its economy: What should a high school diploma mean, and what should it take to earn one? In the past decade, the state has moved towards prioritizing standardized testing as a graduation requirement. But the pendulum now seems to be swinging in the opposite direction. 

Kevin McCorry, Keystone Crossroads

Urban school districts in Pennsylvania face a particularly cruel logic. They serve the poorest, most needy students, yet, when it comes to state funding per pupil, most of them don't make the top of the list. That dynamic has come to a head in the city of Erie, where leaders of one of the largest school systems in the state are contemplating closing all high schools.