Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)


Timothy Patrick O’Brien


property tax, school choice, voucher systems, Pennsylvania K-12, education


Education | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


For many years now, Pennsylvanian lawmakers have debated the merits of changing the funding method of public schools, with the elimination of property taxes drawing headlines in the media but never being realized through legislative amendments to the school funding formulas. Still today, legislation is being proposed to eliminate property tax as a funding source. The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is demographic or geographic support for these efforts among those who budget and utilize these funds: school board members. The theoretical framework employed will be that of social choice theory. A survey was conducted among school board members from the 501 individual districts in Pennsylvania to determine if there was support for a change to sales and income taxes in lieu of property taxes for school funding and subjected to analysis using SPSS via independent samples Kruskal-Wallis H and Mann Whitney-U testing, along with Crosstab analysis. Additional questions explore support for school choice and voucher systems with Pennsylvania K-12 education. The findings of this study showed that there exists support among certain geographic and demographic groups for these concepts.