Supers Testify: Lack of Funds Lead to William Penn’s ‘Deplorable Conditions’

William Penn School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Becoats.
Image via Pete Bannan, Daily Times.
William Penn School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Becoats.

Two William Penn School District superintendents, one current and one former testified recently at a historic lawsuit trial arguing Pennsylvania is not meeting its constitutional requirement to give all children a high-quality public education, writes Pete Bannan for the Daily Times.

The 2014 lawsuit was filed by William Penn and five other school districts, parents, and two associations.

It argues that relying on property taxes to fund schools shortchanges students in low-wealth districts.

On Jan. 11, current superintendent Dr. Eric Becoats testified about “deplorable conditions”, “deplorable” academic results, and “horrible” facilities.  

No new job positions have been created since he arrived in 2020 Becoats testified.

Former Superintendent Jane Harbert testified Jan. 7 that poor facilities and insufficient staffing “severely impact” the learning for district students, who are 90 percent Black.

There are seven principals for eight schools, no resources for reading specialists, and four counselors for eight elementary schools, she said.

Harbert testified her biggest challenge was not being able to raise enough taxes to cover student needs.

 “Regardless of what percentage we put on the local taxpayers, we would never generate the revenue needed,” Harbert testified.  “Our financial future was dismal.”

Read more at the Daily Times about testimony given at the trial.

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