February 6, 2024 – We commend Gov. Shapiro for today’s historic commitment to address the needs of all Pennsylvania’s school children. Last year Gov. Shapiro promised to develop a plan to bring Pennsylvania’s school funding system into constitutional compliance. Building on the work of the Basic Education Funding Commission, he has kept that promise, and we applaud him for it. Today’s proposal includes every first-year recommendation proposed by the commission.
If fully implemented over the next seven years, the commission’s plan will mean thousands more teachers, counselors, librarians, and school nurses delivering what every child deserves: the opportunity to thrive. We look forward to legislation backing up that long-term plan, with annual targets so that school districts can plan, our leaders can be held accountable, and students can see the benefits.
There remains work ahead. The seven-year timeline proposed by the commission to implement the plan is too long, and it does not yet include funding for critical strategies like high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. But we recognize his proposal for what it is: a bold, historic first step towards a system that honors the limitless potential of our students and delivers the future our communities and our children deserve. We are ready to stand with the governor in advocating for its passage.
If fully implemented over the next seven years, the commission’s plan will mean thousands more teachers, counselors, librarians, and school nurses delivering what every child deserves: the opportunity to thrive.
On the governor’s stated support for a school voucher program: Pennsylvania’s first obligation is to bring its public education system into constitutional compliance. Commonwealth Court’s decision is entirely focused on ensuring that our Commonwealth provides a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary public education to all Pennsylvania students. Funds spent on vouchers for private schools sanction discrimination against students, lead to worse outcomes by any measure, and don’t bring us a dollar closer to compliance with the court’s ruling.
One year after the governor and General Assembly were ordered to enact a plan to remedy the unconstitutional funding system, we have before us one—and only one—plan that answers the court’s command: the plan adopted by the Basic Education Funding Commission and affirmed today by the governor.
Statements from superintendents of school district petitioners in the Pennsylvania school funding lawsuit
“Today Governor Shapiro demonstrated his belief in the children of the William Penn School District, and in the entire Commonwealth,” said Dr. Eric Becoats, superintendent of William Penn School District. “By including in his budget the full year-one recommendation from the Basic Education Funding Commission, 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.”
“I applaud Governor Shapiro for taking real action for public schools in communities like mine by putting forward the first year of a transformative plan,” said Dr. Brian Waite, superintendent of Shenandoah Valley School District. “Facing enormous funding gaps, educators in Shenandoah Valley make impossible choices for our students every day, shifting insufficient resources to some students who need them at the expense of others. Now we have a real plan in Harrisburg to bridge those gaps, and to give us the chance to make choices based on maximizing our students’ amazing potential, not minimizing collateral damage.”
“Today’s budget proposal could be the start of transformational change for my students,” said Dr. David McAndrew, superintendent of Panther Valley School District. “It means more reading specialists, counselors, teachers, and social workers, support that has been denied because of a lack of local wealth in our community. I hope that our leaders in Harrisburg can make this multi-year proposal a reality faster than seven years—our kids have unmet needs right now—but the governor’s plan provides the meaningful opportunity that children in Panther Valley and across Pennsylvania deserve.”
“Thank you, Governor Shapiro, for putting forward a budget plan that will help public schools meet the needs of all their students,” said Dr. Amy Arcurio, superintendent of Greater Johnstown School District. “The sustained, predictable funding that the long-term plan begun by this budget provides would be transformative. Our limited local wealth would no longer lead to a triage for essential educational resources. Instead, we could provide the tools in Greater Johnstown to give our learners a meaningful opportunity to become what we know they can be—the people who build the future of Pennsylvania.”
“I applaud Governor Shapiro’s historic commitment to support students in public schools across Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Brian Costello, superintendent of Wilkes-Barre Area School District. “Young people in places like Wilkes-Barre can achieve incredible things when we’re able to provide the support they need—and this proposal is the start of a long-term plan to make that possible. I’m asking our lawmakers to pass this budget, invest in our students, and let them show us all what they can do.”
“Today, Governor Shapiro provided the leadership necessary to properly fund Pennsylvania schools, building on the work of the Basic Education Funding Commission,” said Dr. Keith Miles, superintendent of the School District of Lancaster. “These resources are essential for us provide the academic interventions, specialized instruction, and mental health supports our students need without undue burden on our local taxpayers.”