Gov. Tom Wolf stood in a Philadelphia elementary school auditorium Thursday and said the state needs to do better by Pennsylvania’s most struggling school districts.

Wolf has proposed tripling the amount distributed through his “Level Up” funding stream, designed to bring more equity to the commonwealth’s system of funding schools. Under his plan for the 2022-23 school year, $300 million would be earmarked for Pennsylvania’s poorest districts.

Philadelphia, the state’s largest and poorest system, would receive about $119 million of that money.

Pennsylvania has a school funding formula that gives additional money to districts with higher poverty and other needs. While that’s played a growing role in how the state doles out aid to districts, it still doesn’t apply to the bulk of what Pennsylvania spends on education — spurring complaints that poorer districts are being shortchanged. An ongoing, historic school funding lawsuit argues that education funding in Pennsylvania is so inadequate and inequitable that it violates the state constitution.

Wolf, a Democrat, has sought to dramatically increase education spending, but has been rebuffed by the Republican-controlled state legislature, which has consented to smaller increases.

The Level Up initiative, introduced last year, designated $100 million specifically for the state’s poorest 100 school districts, on top of a $200 million increase for all 500 districts. The spending raised the state’s main subsidy to K-12 schools to $7 billion. This year, Wolf has proposed another $300 million targeted to the poorest districts and an additional $1.25 billion for all districts as part of a massive increase the administration has said could be funded through a state surplus. Republican lawmakers have opposed Wolf’s plan, arguing the state won’t be able to afford the spending in future years.

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More is needed, Wolf said Thursday at Logan Elementary in the city’s Logan section.

“Every student in Pennsylvania deserves a top-tier education,” Wolf said. “But inequity and underfunding mean that some students aren’t getting the opportunities they need. And that’s bad for all of us.”

Level Up will benefit not just Philadelphia, but other districts in the region, like William Penn, Southeast Delco, Souderton, Norristown, Coatesville, Oxford Area, and Bristol.

Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First, a local child welfare nonprofit, noted that while Lower Merion schools spend about $30,000 per student, Philadelphia has only about $15,000 to spend per pupil. Beefing up spending through Wolf’s program would mean cutting the disparity by about $1,000 per student.

“The state is sitting on $10 billion,” Cooper said. “Today, we can invest in a second grader and make their life better. There’s an emergency in our classrooms, and the governor’s proposal is the way to solve it.”

What actually becomes of Wolf’s proposal remains up in the air; budget negotiations typically stretch on into June.

Of his funding proposal’s chances, Wolf said he was “optimistic that we’ll be able to do a good part of that, if not all of it.”