February 12, 2024
When Governor Shapiro delivered his 2024-25 budget address on February 6th to the Pennsylvania House and Senate, he demonstrated his belief in the children of the William Penn School District and in the entire Commonwealth. By including the full year-one recommendation from the Basic Education Funding Commission in his budget, we are on the path to provide resources for our children that have long been deferred. If carried out over seven years, this plan would be the end of our students living by the unacceptable slogan “do more with less.” These funds will allow us to provide additional teachers and support services (counselors, social workers and health therapists) to the schools and students that most deserve them.
An overview of the full budget address is included here, and these are a summary of his key points regarding education:
- A nearly $1.1 billion increase in basic education funding
- A $50 million increase for special education funding
- A continued $50 million annual investment in school safety and security improvements and $300 million in sustainable funding for environmental repair projects in school buildings
- A universal rate that school districts pay to cover tuition of students attending cyber charter schools.
- $10 million for the Educator Talent Recruitment Account and $450,000 to support the Talent Recruitment Office at the Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Increased funding for student teacher stipends by $5 million to a total of $15 million
I am hopeful that this budget passes. As we now wait for the budget process to continue, I encourage you to continue to reach out to our legislators and to Governor Shapiro to let them know that anything less than what he proposed is unacceptable. We will no longer deny our children the full and comprehensive education in 21st century buildings and facilities that they deserve. I will let you know if there are any further updates. Thank you as always for your support.
Dr. Eric J. Becoats
February 5, 2024
This is a very importan t week for public schools in Pennsylvania. February 7th is the one-year anniversary of the landmark ruling by the Commonwealth Court that declared that the funding of our public schools was unconstitutional. Since then, we have been eagerly and hopefully waiting for what comes next. The Basic Education Funding Commission recently put forth their proposal following a series of hearings around Pennsylvania, and Governor Josh Shapiro will give his budget address tomorrow, February 6th, to a joint session of the House and Senate at the Capitol Rotunda. Tune in to the live stream here beginning at 12:30 p.m.
You can find an overview of the proposed budget here, and Governor Shapiro will share more details tomorrow. As you can see, it is to include the “largest increase in basic education funding ever and historic investments in our schools.” I encourage you to read that section to learn about the increased basic education and Level Up funding as well as funds for universal free breakfast for public school students, dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, school-based mental health counselors, special education, and student teacher stipends.
To reach out to Governor Shapiro to advocate on behalf of the William Penn School District and public schools throughout Pennsylvania, please text 717-788-8990 or fill out the contact form here. Your voice matters, and after decades of unconstitutional funding, we have a lot of ground to make up. Please also follow the Education Advocacy page on our website for more information.
I thank you for your support of the William Penn School District as well as public schools throughout Pennsylvania. As the Commonwealth Court stated in its ruling: “All witnesses agree that every child can learn. It is now the obligation of the Legislature, Executive Branch, and educators, to make the constitutional promise a reality in this Commonwealth.”
I hope that Governor Shapiro and our state legislators meet their obligation and deliver on what our state constitution promises our children. They deserve no less.
Dr. Eric J. Becoats
January 26, 2024
I am writing to share another update regarding my January 11th email, which you can see below. We are awaiting Governor Shapiro to deliver his budget address around noon on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 from the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.
I will definitely be tuned in. As I wrote previously, I am hopeful based on the Basic Education Funding Commission’s report that was approved on January 11. You can read a summary of what the Commission calls for here.
In the article Shapiro offers peek at 2024-2025 budget plan priorities (pennlive.com, 1/17/24), they write that, in regards to education, they expect Governor Shapiro to call for:
A significant increase in funding for public education while making sure money is targeted to historically underfunded school districts. This comes in the wake of a report from the Basic Education Funding Commission approved last week that calls for addressing the more than $5 billion in underfunding of public schools.
A significant increase is good, but I want the William Penn School District, and districts all around Pennsylvania, to receive FULL funding, as the Commission laid out in their report. Anything less, as the Commonwealth Court ruled last year, is unconstitutional.
That ruling was made on February 7, 2023. As we approach its one-year anniversary, I am hopeful that Governor Shapiro will offer a full solution to this.
However, I am also prepared to strongly advocate if that is not the outcome. Several people have reached out to ask what they can do to help us. The District is proudly partnering with WPEA and WPESPA to advocate together. We ask you to text/email Governor Shapiro to let him know that we will no longer settle for less – here are some resources that you can use to contact our Governor as well as share on social media. Please be vocal in your support and read up on what is happening during this process.
Thank you for reading, and I will be in touch with more information soon. In the meantime here are some recent articles regarding this process.
Rep. Jordan Harris: Before Pa. revisits voucher proposals it must address education inequality
School vouchers on conservative group’s budget wishlist for Gov. Shapiro
Poor schools are prepared to return to court if Pennsylvania budget falls short on funding plan
Thank you for your support!
Dr. Eric J. Becoats
January 11, 2024
Dear WPSD Team,
Today, the Basic Education Funding Commission held their final hearing in Harrisburg to release their findings in response to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that found Pennsylvania’s public school funding unconstitutional.
The Commission held a vote on two proposed reports that recommend funding for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts They voted 8-7 to accept this one that includes the following recommendations:
1. Reduce the volatility in the basic education funding (BEF) formula by using three-year averages in certain data elements, lessening the concentrated poverty “cliff,” and resetting the base at the 2023/24 distribution level. Provide at least a $200 million increase through this updated BEF formula each year;
2. Calculate adequacy targets for each school district;
3. Reconstitute the next BEFC in 2029 per Act 51 of 2014;
4. Invest in school facilities;
5. Examine charter school funding;
6. Invest in our education workforce;
7. Invest in student supports; and
8. Consider other important education issues outside the direct scope of this BEFC.
This report is not binding, but we are very optimistic by the selection of this report. The full legislature will have to vote on the changes to school funding, and Governor Shapiro will need to sign them.
I hope you take some time to read through the report, and together, we can advocate for its passing. As you can see on page 61, having additional funds for the William Penn School District will have an incredible – and much needed – impact on our schools.