Monday, June 26, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 26: PA Legislature’s Revenue Status Quo: Let the School Boards Raise Taxes

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 26, 2017:



Contact your legislators today and urge them to support a $100 million increase in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) subsidy and a $25 million increase for special education.  Show your legislators the consequences of proposed $50M transportation cuts

Click here to find your members of the Senate and House. When you find your legislators, click on their names for phone numbers and other contact information.

PSBA estimates that 164 school districts will receive less money, even with the proposed $125 million subsidy increases for 2017-18, if the General Assembly cuts transportation funding. 

The chart shows how much money each district will receive if the $100 million increase in the BEF and the $25 million increase is enacted, along with how much money each district will lose with a $50 million decrease for transportation. The final column shows the BEF and special education funding increase less the transportation decrease. (Please remember that the chart is an estimate that utilizes the best data available to calculate the funds.)



Most school districts raising taxes, reducing staff to meet rising costs
By Dawn Goodman For the Observer-Reporter newsroom@observer-reporter.com June 26, 2017
Tax increases, furloughs and not replacing retiring employees are three ways area school districts are addressing 2017-18 budget shortfalls that are primarily happening because of increased pension costs and changes to state funding.  Although Gov. Tom Wolf and House Republicans proposed a $100 million increase in the state’s 2017-18 budget for basic education funding, they proposed cuts to other school programs, such as a cut of $50 million to school transportation, according to the Campaign for Fair Education funding. Pension costs are projected to rise $140 million, requiring districts to find big chunks of money to make required contributions.  The top three actions school administrators plan to take in the 2017-18 school year as a result of budget funding issues are taking money from the fund balance, raising local property taxes and reducing staffing, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s most recent state of education report.  The report states 74.7 percent statewide planned to draw from fund balance, 72.9 percent expected to raise local property taxes and 47.6 percent planned to reduce staff/number of positions.  At McGuffey School District, the school board voted to eliminate nine faculty positions, two of them part-time, and three support staff members to help balance a $31.6 million budget that also required a .35-mill tax increase.  Monessen School District is also in financial straits and looking at layoffs.

Editorial: Don’t cut key education funding to level playing field
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 06/24/17, 11:06 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 SECS AGO
It’s the last week of June. Do you know where your state budget is?
Here’s a better question: Do you know where the $100 million in additional funding proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf is? That money was meant to level what has been a lopsided playing field when it comes to education funding in Pennsylvania, with poor districts getting the short end of the stick. It was meant to put some teeth into the Fair Funding Formula adopted by the Legislature last year. In effect, it was the governor asking the Legislature to put its money where its mouth was. The study that suggested the Fair Funding Formula concluded what many had already believed: Too many children in Pennsylvania are offered an inferior education for no other reason than their zip code. They live in less well-to-do school districts, with battered economies and depleted tax bases that make it very difficult to raise additional revenue the way that more well-to-do districts do it – by simply raising property taxes.  Now that $100 million outlay is apparently in jeopardy. So much so that a group of educators called a press conference earlier this week to warn that the state may be in danger of failing to live up to the promises of the Fair Funding Formula. Again.

“While Wolf has proposed increasing the spending in the classroom, he has proposed a $50 million cut in the $550 million in state aid to help pay for busing. That could be a major concern in rural school districts where busing is a major cost, Callahan said.  In addition to the basic education boost, Wolf has proposed a $25 million increase in state support for special education costs.  Even so, an analysis by the school board group found that the transportation cuts will be so deep in 164, mostly rural, school districts, they will outweigh the gains from the governor’s proposal.  Schools are being squeezed by costs they can’t control, most notably pension costs, he said.  The $100 million boost Wolf has proposed won’t even offset the $140 million increase in employer costs for the retirement system this year, he said.  Over the past five years, school districts’ share of employer costs for the retirement system have increased 337 percent, he said.
“This $100 million is the bare-bones necessity” for local schools, Callahan said.”
Some fear schools will be losers as state strains to balance budget
Sharon Herald By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent June 23, 2017
HARRISBURG – Education advocates on Thursday said they are worried that as state lawmakers strain to come up with a balanced budget, they will balance the plan by short-changing public schools.  The issue looms large because the proposed increase actually just serves to offset increased pension costs. And in many rural school districts, even without factoring in pension costs, a cut in busing aid proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf will outweigh his proposed boost in classroom spending, according to an analysis provided by the Pennsylvania School Board Association.  According to the analysis by the Pennsylvania School Board Association:
• Grove City Area School District would gain $55,574 from the proposed funding boost, but would end up with a net loss of $4,698 after the busing funding cut.
• Reynolds School District would gain $10,344, but would end up with a net loss of $44,218.
• Lakeview School District would gain $31,093, but would end up with a net loss of $31,439.
• Commodore Perry School District would gain $27,457, but would end up with a net loss of $13,235.
Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a $100 million increase in state funding for basic education. With that increase, state spending on classroom instruction will be just shy of $6 billion. A plan passed in the state House in April kept the governor’s proposed increase in place.  Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said she is unaware of any serious discussion about eliminating the boost for schools in a spending plan currently under development by legislative leaders.  Wolf, in a statement released Monday, reiterated that he expects any budget that lands on his desk “should protect” Wolf’s “proposed investments in our schools.”  Joan Benso, chairwoman of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, said advocates’ concerns are fueled by “chatter” around the Capitol.  John Callahan, assistant executive director of public policy for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, added that their fears are aggravated by the fact that the state’s fiscal shape has only gotten worse since the House passed its budget. Tax revenue has been failing to meet expectations this spring, meaning balancing the budget has only gotten tougher, he said.  The basic education funding boost isn’t the only ball in the air though.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding insists upon full $100M Basic Education Budget increase in State budget
PSBA Website June 22, 2017
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding assembled in the Capitol rotunda on Thursday to underscore the importance of a $100 million increase in basic education funding. Campaign members stood together to tell legislators that a funding increase is truly critical for students.
“Both the state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf and the version passed by the Pennsylvania House included a $100 million increase in the line item for basic education,” said Joan Benso, President and CEO of the PA Partnerships for Children and co-chair of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. “This level must be maintained in whatever final version becomes law.”  The group also urged that the increase not be diluted by cuts to other funding streams for public schools, such as school transportation.  “The proposed $100 million increase will not even keep pace with schools’ mandated expenditures over which they have no control,” said John Callahan, Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy for the PA School Boards Association (PSBA). “Anything less than $100 million will force many districts to make deeper budget cuts, including the elimination of programs and staff.”  Even with the governor’s proposed increase, Pennsylvania’s state share of public school funding remains one of the lowest in the country. Local districts are left to fund more and more of the bill for education, and many communities have reached their local tax capacity.

Cigarettes, gambling and jobs: What you need to know about Pa.'s budget deadline talks
Penn Live Updated June 25, 2017  Posted June 25, 2017
Get ready for Pa. Budget Grind, '17
OK Pennsylvania. You did your part to pay for prisons, state universities, a safety net for the poor, that state trooper who just clocked your speed on the interstate.  Now, it's up to your elected representatives to decide how to spend all that largesse, re: your tax dollars. And in some cases, raise some more.  If all goes well, we are one week and $2.2 billion away from a new budget deal for fiscal 2017-18, which starts on July 1.  That means lots of wheeling and dealing ahead. So, if you care about school funding, the spread of legalized gambling, quality of life issues for the poor, or just the general level of state spending, this would be a good week to pay attention.  Or maybe even to register your opinion with a state Rep., Senator, or the governor's office. You can rest assured that regiments of professional lobbyists will.

Lawmakers eye gambling revenue, borrowing to balance budget
GoErie By Nico Salvatori  Posted Jun 25, 2017 at 2:01 AM
State legislators will spend the week trying to figure out how they will raise new revenue and close a $1.5 billion deficit before the start of the new fiscal year.  Pennsylvania lawmakers have roughly a week to agree on a state budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which starts Saturday, and so far no consensus on how to do that is in sight.  That is not unusual for the Pennsylvania legislature, but this year lawmakers are grappling with the state’s biggest cash shortfall since the 2008 recession.  House and Senate Republican majority leaders were expected to meet over the weekend for budget talks before the full legislature reconvenes Monday.  “We are scheduled to be in session all week and probably up until we have something in place,” state Rep. Pat Harkins said recently. “I’m looking forward to a very busy and productive week.”  Harkins, of Erie, D-1st Dist., said a slew of proposals are on the table to try to raise more than $2 billion in new revenue that would balance a proposed spending plan and close the deficit. They include expanding gambling in the state, cutting costs and borrowing against future state revenue.  The extent to which gambling should be expanded has already been a point of contention between the House and Senate. Video gambling in thousands of bars, truck stops and elsewhere passed the House earlier this month with bipartisan support, and House Republican leaders have brought it to budget negotiations.  But the Senate has not shown that it would support such a large gambling expansion. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County, on Wednesday said such a move could be bigger than Pennsylvania’s 2004 legalization of up to 14 commercial casinos, and he was “a little nervous about the size and scope” of it.

 “I think the law is not going to go away and that brick-and-mortar charter schools are going to remain part of the public charter school menu,” said Ronald Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center and a former state representative who voted in favor of the Pennsylvania Charter School Law in 1997. “What that looks like in 500 different districts is going to vary immensely. I think the biggest barrier to greater cooperation between school districts and charter schools — particularly charter schools located within their jurisdiction — is how we pay for charter schools.”
Clairton, like many Pa. school districts, struggles with charter payments
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN AND LIZ NAVRATIL Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM JUN 25, 2017
Sometimes, Alexis Trubiani will take a drive to see for herself whether a student’s listed address is actually an occupied residence.  The Clairton City School District only has to pay a charter school for a student who lives within its borders, but a charter school doesn’t have to immediately notify the district if the student moves to another area. It can take months to sort out the confusion and get the money back if an error isn’t corrected immediately, so Ms. Trubiani, the district’s student services liaison, prefers to be proactive.  She has been tasked with tracking the district’s charter school payments for the last five years, filling a role the district created specifically for that reason. During her first two years on the job, she said she found enough money in over-payments to charter schools to pay her salary twice over. 

Guest Column: Pa. takes giant step in fixing public pension crisis
Delco Times Opinion By Jake Corman and Pat Browne, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 06/25/17, 9:12 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
State Sen. Jake Corman, R-34, is the majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate. Sen. Pat Browne, R-16, is chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee.
The commonwealth faces a number of significant challenges, but none are as serious as the public employee pension crisis. Pension liabilities have reached a staggering $80 billion and continue to grow with each passing day.  The effects of this crisis have been felt for nearly a decade. Lawmakers have faced massive budget deficits nearly every year since 2008. These fiscal difficulties have prevented us from investing in tax cuts for hardworking families or contributing more money to areas of state government that could benefit from additional funding, including education.  Money that otherwise could have been used in the classroom has been consistently diverted to meet rising pension obligations. The proposed 2017-18 state budget includes $100 million in new money toward education; the increase in the pension payment for school districts is $144 million. The state’s contributions to school district pensions increased from $290 million to a whopping $2.1 billion in the last decade – a 618 percent increase.  The road to addressing this problem has been long and difficult. However, the General Assembly finally took historic action last week to restructure the state’s two public employee pension systems. The resulting legislation is the most comprehensive transfer of risk away from taxpayers in the country.

AP analysis shows how gerrymandering benefited GOP in 2016
Inquirer by DAVID A. LIEB, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 25, 2017 — 2:03 AM EDT
The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump's favor.  Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.  The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It's designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

 “Limiting enrollment to boys and requiring them to study Latin are critical parts of Boys’ Latin. Hardy said a single-gender environment frees students from having to worry about what the other gender thinks. “That does mean something for a lot of kids,” he said.”
David Hardy retires from Boys' Latin with his vision going strong
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda |  martha.woodall@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 24, 2017 — 11:32 AM EDT
David Hardy had dreamed of opening a charter school for boys in Philadelphia to ensure more minority males made it college.   Modeled after the famed Boston Latin School, the charter would offer a rigorous, college-prep education and require students to complete four years of Latin. Hardy fulfilled his vision.  A decade after Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School opened in Cobbs Creek, Hardy, 65, is retiring as the school’s founding CEO. He presided over his final graduation earlier this month.  “We are way beyond what I dreamed,” Hardy said.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Medicaid could be scaled back to the tune of $800 billion over 10 years if the House bill becomes law. (No estimate yet for the Senate version.)   That's important because Medicaid helps school districts cover the cost of services to eligible kids, including students in special education. (Think speech therapy, occupational therapy, even devices like wheelchairs.) In fact, AASA, the School Superintendents' Association, estimates that school districts get about $4 billion a year through Medicaid. (That's not chump change. In fact it's about a third of federal special education state grants, and roughly the size of the Obama administration's Race to the Top program.)”
GOP Health Care Proposals: What Educators Should Know
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 22, 2017 1:36 PM
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are in the midst of trying to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as "Obamacare"—with big implications for the nation's schools when it come to special education funding, teacher benefits, and more. And Thursday, after weeks of work behind closed doors, the U.S. Senate released its version of legislation to replace the ACA. The bill, which lawmakers could vote on as soon as early next week, may eventually be merged with a bill that passed the House narrowly back in May, with only Republican support. That legislation is called the American Health Care Act or "Trumpcare" to its detractors.  So just how would the Senate bill—the "Better Care Reconciliation Act"—impact schools? How is it different from the ACA and the House bill in ways that might matter to educators? Advocates—and senators—were still combing through a 142-page Senate draft for details Thursday so stay tuned.   But, in the meantime, check out a quick list of things to watch for in the debate over a new health care law:

“State Sen. Daylin Leach also weighed on the Medicaid cuts in with a statement:
“To deny health care to families and sick people is morally obscene. But to do that to give tax cuts to Americans earning more than $250,000 per year is almost beyond human comprehension. I doubt cancer patients who won’t be able to afford chemotherapy will be comforted to know that Donald Trump is getting a tax cut. We are all in this together – why is that so hard for the Republicans to understand?”
Toomey Led the Push for the Senate Bill’s Deep Medicaid Cuts
Toomey defended the cuts, saying they were “necessary to make [Medicaid] a sustainable program.”
Philadelphia Magazine BY CLAIRE SASKO  |  JUNE 22, 2017 AT 5:19 PM
Senate Republicans unveiled their version of a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act today—and behind that legislation is Pennsylvania’s own Sen. Pat Toomey.  The bill includes cuts to Medicaid that are more severe than the health care legislation passed by House Republicans last month. Compared to the ACA, the House bill would leave 5 million more people who rely on Medicaid uninsured next year, according to the Congressional Budget OfficeAs the chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, Toomey helped spearhead the bill’s drafting process and the push for deep Medicaid cuts, which Democrats and some Republicans fear will force states to either eliminate coverage for many needy patients or assume a much more sizable chunk of the cost.  Toomey defended the bill in an interview with Bloomberg today, calling the Medicaid cuts “necessary to make [Medicaid] a sustainable program.” He said the bill had “gotten lots of outside input” during the draft process—but it was drafted without a single public hearing.  Here’s how the bill would work: Under current law, Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement program, meaning the government is required to match state expenditures for the costs of covered services to those deemed eligible (primarily low-income and disabled people). The Senate legislation would replace that program with a system of capped federal payments that would drastically reduce federal spending over time.  That means states would be forced to decide whether to scale back on coverage or raise a significant amount of funding, likely through taxes or budget cuts, to make up the difference.

Toomey: Senate bill fixes Obamacare failures and preserves safety net
Inquirer Opinion by Pat Toomey Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 10:58 AM EDT
Pat Toomey is a Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
The single most politically litigated topic in the United States in a generation has been Obamacare. In election after election, including two of my own in 2010 and 2016, the American people repeatedly put into office men and women who promised them relief from this law. The reason is simple: The foundation of Obamacare, a dramatically enhanced federal role in health insurance, has failed to deliver on the promises of its architects.  Millions, who liked their plans and their doctors, couldn’t keep them. Increasingly, parts of the country have no Obamacare-compliant plans for sale.  Costs have skyrocketed. In Pennsylvania, premiums are up 120 percent since 2013. Competition is almost nonexistent; 40 percent of our residents can choose from only one insurance provider on the exchange.  Coverage is far below the forecasts touted by the law’s advocates. The Congressional Budget Office’s initial prediction for participation in the exchange was off by over half for this year—a difference of 13 million people. These dismal results, accompanied by almost $2 trillion in new federal spending and $1 trillion in new taxes, are set to continue and grow worse unless Congress takes action.  Republicans have begun the process to roll back this misguided experiment, and the first step is to address the most immediate challenges presented by Obamacare’s collapse.

Casey urges action against GOP health-care plan
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 4:13 PM EDT
HARRISBURG – At a morning rally in the state Capitol, Sen. Bob Casey urged voters to help him and other Democrats defeat the Republican Senate plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. “In the next couple of days, into the very last hour, please keep advocating,” Casey told several dozen people gathered in the Rotunda. “Please keep writing and marching and calling, and going on social media, and calling senators in other states as well as Pennsylvania. Keep going, keep pushing, because we can defeat this bill if we keep working together.”  He spoke a day after Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited proposal to replace Obamacare, a bill their leaders hope to bring to a vote next week. With Republicans clinging to a two-seat majority in the chamber and Democrats unified against the plan, every vote will count.

Republicans are out of ideas on healthcare reform: John L. Micek
Penn Live BY JOHN L. MICEK  jmicek@pennlive.com Updated on June 23, 2017 at 7:00 AM Posted on June 22, 2017 at 3:44 PM
It's time to own it, Republicans: You've had seven years to come up with a credible alternative to Obamacare. And when your clutch moment came, you choked.  Again.  The House's first crack at a repeal-and-replace bill was so bad that Speaker Paul Ryan had to yank it or risk a humiliating defeat. The second was slightly less awful, but still sufficiently offensive as to be declared dead-on-arrival in the Senate.  Now, after days of closed-door meetings where the very sharpest minds in Washington met to hammer out an alternative, we get a legless version of the mean-spirited Obamacare repeal bill the House passed.  How bad is it? So bad that liberals and conservatives each found reasons not to like it.

Proposal would lower wages for Erie schools construction
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted at 2:00 AM June 26, 2017
Roae wants to exempt school district from prevailing wage law; Erie High expansion would be affected.
An area lawmaker wants to exempt the Erie School District from paying the equivalent of union-scale wages on construction projects.  The proposal comes as the district prepares to rebuild the north wing of Erie High School, which was heavily damaged in an accidental fire on May 26. An exemption, if approved, would be unlikely to affect that project. But an exemption would reduce how much the district would pay in construction wages if it follows through with a plan to renovate Erie High and other schools and build a magnet school wing at Erie High, all at a cost of $67 million.  State Rep. Brad Roae, of East Mead Township, R-6th Dist., is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the state’s prevailing wage law from applying to construction projects in the nine Pennsylvania school districts that are in financial recovery or financial watch, as is the Erie School District. Roae’s House Bill 1479 is headed to the full state House for a vote, his office said this past week.

Dallastown district raises taxes to limit
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez , 505-5439/@JuniorG_YDPublished 9:01 a.m. ET June 23, 2017 | Updated 14 hours ago
The Dallastown Area school board approved a final 2017-18 budget that includes the highest tax increase possible under a cap set by the state. The board voted 5-3 on June 15 to adopt the $104.3 million budget that will hike property taxes by 3.2 percent. The increase will raise the millage rate from 22.93 mills to 23.66 mills, adding about $110 in taxes annually for a home assessed at $150,510 — the average assessment in the district. The budget includes several position changes, including shifting some full-time positions to part time. Several paraprofessional positions were either reduced or eliminated, saving the district approximately $148,000, according to a list of budget highlights. A $72,000 deficit was covered by the school’s fund balance.
The district maintains a healthy unassigned fund balance, projecting $8.3 million to be in its coffers by the July 1 start of fiscal year 2018. That figure represents 8 percent of its total budgeted expenditures.

“PSERS (Public School Employee Retirement System) continues to drive expenditure increases with a hike of 10.4 percent, costing the district almost $500,000 more than the previous year. The district has strategically using a portion of the committed fund balance for this purpose.”
Final Springfield budget hikes taxes 2.5 percent
Delco Times By Susan L. Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/23/17, 9:33 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
SPRINGFIELD >> The school board unanimously approved the 2017-18 General Fund Final Budget of $83.2 million. The tax increase is at the allowable index of 2.5 percent, which was a reduction from the 2.97 percent increase projected in February.  Executive Director Don Mooney said there were no changes from the proposed budget passed in May. The district could not make any alterations since the state budget, which could have signaled differences in subsidies, has not passed. Mooney said he’d been in touch with state Seb. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, but nothing firm was known. Mooney added “next week could be very busy in Harrisburg” if the budget could be approved by the end of June.  The district’s budget is balanced at about $3.3 million more than 2016-17. It will be supported by a real estate tax increase of 2.5 percent to a total of 32.207 mills, less than a 1 mill increase from the current year. Property with the median value of $146,820 will have taxes of $4,729, an increase of $126.

Why it costs extra to be poor for Philly schools
Inquirer by Joseph N. DiStefano, Staff Writer  @PhillyJoeD |  JoeD@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 3:29 PM EDT
Money: The worse you need it, the more it costs.  The Philadelphia School District pays a lot more interest when it borrows money than wealthier and more-solvent suburban districts do. At current prices, “Philly pays a penalty” of 1 percentage point above what top-rated suburban districts like Lower Merion have to pay to persuade bondholders to lend it money for building projects and other expenses, says Eric Kazatsky, municipal credit strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, a Princeton bond firm associated with Bloomberg LP.  With $1.4 billion in fixed-rate debt financing school repairs and other long-term projects, Philadelphia pays nearly 2.4 percent on its most recent major bond issue, compared with a little more than 1.3 percent for Lower Merion. Counting both recent bond sales and older bonds that might be refunded at cheaper rates, the higher price costs city taxpayers more than $14 million a year, compared with what they’d pay if Philadelphia could borrow at Lower Merion rates. And that’s not counting the spreads on $1.4 billion in floating-rate debt, which is tougher to calculate.

Teachers’ Contract Could Mean 3,800 Layoffs or 16 Percent Property Tax Hike
There’s major concern as to how the district will afford a contract it hasn’t budgeted for.
Philadelphia Magazine BY CLAIRE SASKO  |  JUNE 22, 2017 AT 9:06 AM
The School Reform Commission voted earlier this week to approve a contract between the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The deal, which will cost $395 billion over five years, ends a tense four-year stalemate between the teachers’ union and the district. For the first time in five years, teachers will receive raises and, in some cases, retroactive pay. The contract will last through August of 2020. Teachers and city officials who have long awaited an end to the standoff praise the contract. But there’s major uncertainty as to how the district will afford a deal it simply hasn’t budgeted for. According to Philly.com, the recent deal accounts for $245 million more than is budgeted by the district, which already faces an increasingly intimidating deficit. With the contract, the projected deficit reportedly balloons from $700 million to almost $1 billion over five years. The Notebook reports that SRC member Bill Green said the district will likely fund the contract through one of two options: either 3,800 teachers layoffs by September of 2019 or an increase in city property taxes. District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson said that if the city were to finance the contract and balance the district’s deficit on its own, the increase in property taxes would be about 16 percent.

Ranking Lehigh Valley schools' SAT scores, from worst to best
By Sara K. Satullo | For lehighvalleylive.com Updated June 26, 2017 Posted June 26, 2017
Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for any college-bound high school junior and senior.
The standardized test causes plenty of anxiety for students and their parents as it can play a major role in the college admissions process.   The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released the 2016 SAT scores for more than 650 Pennsylvania public high schools.
We took a look at how Lehigh Valley public high school students fared on the test and ranked them.


Senate Leaders Try to Appease Members as Support for Health Bill Slips
New York Times By ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLANJUNE 25, 2017
WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill as opposition continued to build inside and outside Congress, and as several Republican senators questioned whether it would be approved this week.  President Trump expressed confidence that the bill to repeal the guts of the Affordable Care Act would pass.  “Health care is a very, very tough thing to get,” Mr. Trump said in an interview shown Sunday on Fox News. “But I think we’re going to get it. We don’t have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.”  With Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, Senate Republicans must find the votes from within. They can afford to lose only two votes, but five Republican senators have announced that they cannot support the health care bill as drafted, and others have expressed concerns.

CHART: Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Health Care Bill
NPR Heard on All Things Considered June 22, 20173:59 PM ET
By GISELE GRAYSON, ALYSON HURT, ALISON KODJAK
Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.  The Senate proposal is broadly similar to the bill passed by House Republicans last month, with a few notable differences. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been criticized for drafting the bill in secret with just a dozen Republican Senate colleagues, says the proposal — which he calls a discussion draft — will stabilize insurance markets, strengthen Medicaid and cut costs to consumers.  "We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare's mandates. And policies contained in the discussion draft will repeal the individual mandates so Americans are no longer forced to buy insurance they don't need or can't afford," McConnell said.

“In between meetings, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, predicted dire consequences in next year's midterm elections should his party fail to deliver on its repeated promises. "If we don't get health care, none of us are coming back," he said in a brief interview. "We said for seven years you're gonna repeal Obamacare. It's nowhere near repealed."
Koch urgency: Conservative network fears closing window
Inquirer by STEVE PEOPLES, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 26, 2017 — 3:00 AM EDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The urgency was easy to find inside the private receptions and closed-door briefings at the Koch brothers' donor retreat in Colorado Springs, where the billionaire conservatives and their chief lieutenants warned this weekend of a rapidly shrinking window to push their agenda through Congress. No agenda items mattered more to the conservative Koch network than the GOP's promise to overhaul the nation's tax code and repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law. At the moment, however, both are bogged down by GOP infighting that jeopardizes their fate. "There is urgency," said Tim Phillips, who leads the network's political arm, Americans for Prosperity. "We believe we have a window of about 12 months to get as much of it accomplished as possible before the 2018 elections grind policy to a halt." The window for action may be even smaller, some Koch allies warned at a weekend donor retreat that drew roughly 400 participants to the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The price for admission for most was a pledge to give at least $100,000 this year to the Kochs' broad policy and political network. There were also at least 18 elected officials on hand. Some hosted private policy discussions with donors while others simply mingled.

“This post, written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, details issues on which many charter school supporters don’t want to focus. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has chronicled problems with standardized-test based school reform and the school choice movement on this blog for years.”
Problems with charter schools that you won’t hear Betsy DeVos talk about
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 22 
President Trump has proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding to expand charter schools, and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has made clear that her major priority is expanding school choice, including charters. But one thing missing from their agenda is anything that seeks to hold charter schools and for-profit charter operators accountable for how they spend money and educate children and their level of transparency to the public.
Asked at a hearing earlier this year whether she was “going to have accountability standards” in any new school choice program, DeVos responded that states should decide “what kind of flexibility they are going to allow.”  Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated, sometimes by for-profit companies, and have been proliferating for more than 25 years, with thousands of them enrolling as much as 6 percent of America’s schoolchildren around the country.  Supporters of charter schools say they give parents an alternative to failing traditional public schools. Critics say they take vital resources away from traditional public schools and that while some charters are well-run and successful, many are poorly operated. In some cases, “poorly operated” is an understatement. Some states have scandal-ridden charter sectors, though the depths of the problems were hardly front and center at the annual charter conference in Washington earlier this month.



Apply Now for EPLC's 2017-2018 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2017-2018 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 14-15, 2017 and continues to graduation in June 2018.

The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators.  The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.

Pennsylvania Education Leadership Summit July 23-25, 2017 Blair County Convention Center - Altoona
A three-day event providing an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together
co-sponsored by PASA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, PASCD and the PA Association for Middle Level Education
**REGISTRATION IS OPEN**Early Bird Registration Ends after April 30!
Keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics, and district team planning and job-alike sessions will provide practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit and utilized at the district level.
Keynote Speakers:
Thomas Murray
, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement 
Breakout session strands:
*Strategic/Cultural Leadership
*Systems Leadership
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership 
CLICK HERE to access the Summit website for program, hotel and registration information.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017 Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA

Registration now open for the  67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs


Friday, June 23, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 23: Even with Wolf’s proposed $125M hike, 164 mostly rural districts could have a net loss due to transportation cuts

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 23, 2017:



Contact your legislators today and urge them to support a $100 million increase in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) subsidy and a $25 million increase for special education.  Show your legislators the consequences of proposed $50M transportation cuts

Click here to find your members of the Senate and House. When you find your legislators, click on their names for phone numbers and other contact information.

PSBA estimates that 164 school districts will receive less money, even with the proposed $125 million subsidy increases for 2017-18, if the General Assembly cuts transportation funding. 

The chart shows how much money each district will receive if the $100 million increase in the BEF and the $25 million increase is enacted, along with how much money each district will lose with a $50 million decrease for transportation. The final column shows the BEF and special education funding increase less the transportation decrease. (Please remember that the chart is an estimate that utilizes the best data available to calculate the funds.)



Campaign for Fair Education Funding insists upon full $100M Basic Education Budget increase in State budget
PSBA Website June 22, 2017
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding assembled in the Capitol rotunda on Thursday to underscore the importance of a $100 million increase in basic education funding. Campaign members stood together to tell legislators that a funding increase is truly critical for students.
“Both the state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf and the version passed by the Pennsylvania House included a $100 million increase in the line item for basic education,” said Joan Benso, President and CEO of the PA Partnerships for Children and co-chair of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. “This level must be maintained in whatever final version becomes law.”  The group also urged that the increase not be diluted by cuts to other funding streams for public schools, such as school transportation.  “The proposed $100 million increase will not even keep pace with schools’ mandated expenditures over which they have no control,” said John Callahan, Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy for the PA School Boards Association (PSBA). “Anything less than $100 million will force many districts to make deeper budget cuts, including the elimination of programs and staff.”  Even with the governor’s proposed increase, Pennsylvania’s state share of public school funding remains one of the lowest in the country. Local districts are left to fund more and more of the bill for education, and many communities have reached their local tax capacity.

“While Wolf has proposed increasing spending in the classroom, he’s proposed a
$50 million cut in the $550 million in state aid to help pay for busing. That could be a major concern in rural school districts where busing is a major cost, Callahan said.  In addition to the basic education boost, Wolf has proposed a $25 million increase in state support for special education costs.  Even so, an analysis by the school board group found that the transportation cuts will be so deep in 164 mostly rural school districts that they will outweigh the gains from the governor’s proposal.  Schools are being squeezed by costs they can’t control, most notably pension costs, Callahan said.  The $100 million boost Wolf has proposed won’t even offset the $140 million increase in employer costs for the retirement system this year, he said.  Over the past five years, school districts’ share of employer costs for the retirement system have increased 337 percent, he said.”
Advocates fear school boost could be axed
Tribune Democrat By John Finnerty jfinnerty@cnhi.com June 22, 2017
HARRISBURG – Education advocates on Thursday said they’re worried that as state lawmakers strain to come up with a balanced budget, they’ll balance the plan by shortchanging public schools.  The issue looms large because the proposed increase actually just serves to offset increased pension costs. And in many rural school districts, even without factoring in pension costs, a cut in busing aid proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf will outweigh his proposed boost in classroom spending, according to an analysis provided by Pennsylvania School Boards Association.  Wolf has proposed a $100 million increase in state funding for basic education. With that increase, state spending on classroom instruction will be just shy of $6 billion. A plan passed in the state House in April kept the governor’s proposed increase in place.  Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said she’s unaware of any serious discussion about eliminating the boost for schools in a spending plan currently under development by legislative leaders.  Wolf, in a statement released Monday, reiterated that he expects any budget that lands on his desk “should protect” his “proposed investments in our schools.”  Joan Benso, chairwoman of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, said advocates’ concerns are fueled by “chatter” around the Capitol.  John Callahan, assistant executive director of public policy for the state school boards association, added that their fears are aggravated by the fact that the state’s fiscal shape has only gotten worse since the House passed its budget.

Eight days out from the #PaBudget deadline, it's getting real: John L. Micek
Penn Live BY JOHN L. MICEK  jmicek@pennlive.com Updated on June 22, 2017 at 5:03 PM Posted on June 22, 2017 at 1:05 PM
So if you're looking for two, sure-fire ways to tell we're getting down to the wire on passing a new state budget, do this:  Listen to the tone, and watch the body language, of those who live and breathe this stuff every day of their working lives.   Take, for instance, the activists who commandeer the Capitol rotunda almost daily during session weeks to advocate on behalf of this or that worthy cause.  In April, when the first blossoms are appearing on the cherry trees around the Capitol complex, their tone is merely hectoring.  By late June, they're declaiming like Old Testament prophets.  "We know $100 million is a lot of money - in any year," Joan Benso, of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding said during a mid-morning rally, referring to the increase in the state's basic education subsidy her group wants and that Gov. Tom Wolf included in his February budget proposal.  That particularly true in "years like this where we're talking about belt-tightening and not growing significant revenue sources. But we urge people to remember that it is, indeed, a small down payment," she said.  Benso's been around the budget fights as long as almost anyone. She's known for her tenacity. This close to the deadline, she's clearly dug in.
Then there are the staffers and lawmakers who are close to the budget talks.

Days from the deadline, budget indecision in Pa.
Post Gazette by ANGELA COULOUMBIS AND KAREN LANGLEY Harrisburg Bureau 10:58 AM JUN 22, 2017
HARRISBURG — With less than 10 days to the deadline for a new state budget, there is talk but little action — and even less agreement — on how to close a steep budget deficit and fix the state’s fiscal problems. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Wednesday strongly signaled skepticism over a plan being discussed by Republicans who control the state Senate to borrow money to ease the state’s $1.5 billion shortfall.  Top Republicans in both chambers in turn have dismissed many of Mr. Wolf’s proposals to generate new dollars, including a new tax on natural gas drilling and an expansion of the state sales tax to items that are currently exempt.  And no one involved in budget talks appeared to be anywhere near figuring out a plan to expand gambling — one of the proposals that until now all sides indicated would likely be part of any final budget plan. Muddying the waters further Wednesday: top legislative leaders sent rank-and-file legislators home for the rest of the week, setting the stage for a hectic session next week when they return to the Capitol.

'I want real revenue, and I want net revenue,' Wolf says as budget deadline closes in: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live BY JOHN L. MICEK  jmicek@pennlive.com Updated on June 22, 2017 at 5:19 PM Posted on June 22, 2017 at 8:05 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With the end of the current fiscal year a scant eight days away, Gov. Tom Wolf is sending some pretty clear signals about what he does (and more importantly) doesn't want to see in a finished spending plan.  Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the York County Democrat didn't exactly say no to a Republican-backed plans to balance the books.  But he didn't exactly say yes, either. 
As our pals at the Associated Press report:  "Wolf avoided saying that he outright opposes two key Republican ideas: borrowing against future state revenue and legalizing gambling on slot machine-style games in thousands of bars, truck stops and other locations.  "Rather, he suggested that such ideas concern him.

It's time for Pa. to stop papering over its budget holes: Frank Dermody
PENNLIVE OP-ED By Frank Dermody Posted on June 22, 2017 at 8:45 AM
For many years during budget negotiations, Democrats have proposed commonsense solutions like a severance tax on gas drillers and closing corporate tax loopholes, but each year Republicans have resisted.   This year Pennsylvania is facing a $3 billion deficit, and there is still no tax on gas drillers or move to close loopholes.   Republicans who like to paint themselves as fiscal conservatives have helped create a $3 billion deficit and now may try to do something that makes our fiscal situation even worse.   Instead of a commonsense tax on natural gas or closing loopholes in our law that favor greedy out-of-state corporations, Republicans are proposing a borrowing scheme that would further threaten Pennsylvania taxpayers.    As Democratic floor leader of the House, I am eager to explain to my colleagues why borrowing $2 billion to fill the deficit is the wrong plan when we can simply tax gas drillers and close loopholes.

Scarnati: Unsure How Senate Will Close Budget Gap
PoliticsPA Written by Paul Engelkemier, Managing Editor June 22, 2017
Senate Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) told reporters that he was unsure how the Senate will close the expected $2 billion budget deficit.   According to City & State, Scarnati said “how we close this out is yet to be seen.”    There are some ideas that have been floated, but do not show much chance of passing the Senate.    The House passed a gaming expansion bill two weeks ago, but the bill does not have much support in the Senate.  “My experience with gaming in the Senate Republican Caucus, I can boil down real simply: You have a third of the members of the Senate Republican Caucus who oppose gaming because they oppose gaming. You have a third of them that have a gaming interest within their district, so they’re somewhat not in favor of competition for casinos. Then, you’ve got a third of the members in our caucus that could be influenced one way or another to vote for something.  There’s no strong consensus and, when you start off with two-thirds of your caucus either principally against it or certainly economically opposed to something, it’s difficult. That’s why we’re where we’re at,” Scarnati told reporters.  

Ziegler, Pennsylvania Principals Association Peers Lobby State For School Funds
Sanatoga Post by Joe Zlomek | June 23, 2017
HARRISBURG PA – A group of Pennsylvania education leaders, including Pottsgrove High School Principal Dr. Bill Ziegler (at top and below) and Upper Providence Elementary School Principal Dr. Melissa Patschke, personally visited the state Capitol to lobby area politicians and prod them to allocate more money for education in Pennsylvania’s annual budget. The spending plan is due to be finalized next Friday (June 30, 2017).  The state’s financial crisis in public schools demands “the help of legislators,” Ziegler said, as one of five speakers representing the Pennsylvania Principals Association during its annual Principal Advocacy Day. “We still need to significantly increase school funding,” he said, as “statewide survey data shows that 85 percent of school districts plan to raise taxes, 50 percent plan to reduce academic or extracurricular activities, and 48 percent plan to reduce staff resulting in larger class sizes.”  Local funds also are threatened by proposed legislation that would provide significant property tax reductions for commercial properties, Ziegler added. “If this bill passes, the Pottsgrove School District could potentially lose more than $1.7 million in tax revenue from commercial properties next year alone,” he said.  Joining Ziegler and Patschke in making comments in the rotunda were principals from Junitata Elementary School, Crestwood High School, and the association’s executive director. Advocacy Day, which this year occurred on June 9 (Friday) focuses on having legislators from across the state discuss education issues of the day directly with those involved in teaching their constituents’ families.

With state searching for revenue, is marijuana a possible solution for Pennsylvania?
WHYY Newsworks/WITF BY KATIE MEYER, WITF JUNE 22, 2017
As GOP leaders search high and low for more than $2 billion dollars to patch the commonwealth’s budget gaps, one state senator is trying to tempt his colleagues with revenue projections from one of his longtime pet issues — recreational marijuana.  Over the last several years, Democrat Daylin Leach has never had much luck getting the legislature to take recreational weed seriously.  The Montgomery County lawmaker said he still doesn’t have any illusions about getting a bill on the table for the current budget. Instead, he’s hoping new revenue estimates — which his staff put together with help from budget experts — grease the wheels for the coming years.  Especially, he said, because they show significant, recurring revenue. “We’re heading into a period of enormous, unsustainable structural deficit, and a reluctance to raise any sort of money necessary to address them,” he said. “I think this is a particularly propitious time to start talking about doing this.”  The figures predict that after two years of legalization, marijuana tax revenue could add up to more than a billion dollars. After four, they show $1.5 billion. That’s more than many other non-tax revenue sources like gambling and liquor, Leach noted.  “The legislature’s like a very thirsty person,” he said. “They’re desperate for a drink, and there’s a big old glass of ice water just sitting on the table.”

Are Ontario public schools a model for Pennsylvania?
Keystone Crossroads BY KEVIN MCCORRY JUNE 21, 2017
Just a two hour drive from the city of Erie, Ontario has become internationally heralded as a leader in public education. Based, in part, on its performance on international assessments.  Not only are Ontario’s test scores high, but there’s less of a performance gap between high and low income students compared to many other nations, including the U.S.  Why? And, how? Listen to this five-part series, where we dive into these questions in comparison to Pennsylvania, and analyze a few key takeaways.  Ontario, as a society, commits to the idea of “equity,” and puts a high premium on the good of the collective, which is reflected in its school funding and policy decisions. In Pennsylvania, our education system largely reflects a commitment to the individual’s right to maximize their own opportunities, creating large gaps between the quality of different school systems.

OP-ED: LET’S GET PA OUT OF THE BACK SEAT OF SCHOOL FUNDING
Equity First Website by David Parker (R-Monroe) Former Member PA House of Representatives Director – Citizens for Fair School Funding www.supportequityfirst.org
Now is the time for Pennsylvania to use the new funding formulas on all Education Funding and stop discriminating against schools with higher minority populations. 
(East Stroudsburg, PA) June 21, 2017. This past December marked the 60th anniversary of the day Rosa Parks got to ride on the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. We’ve made a lot of progress on Civil Rights across this great country since December 21st 1956; but for some reason, on June 21st, 2017, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are still treating African Americans and other people of color, like 2nd class citizens when it comes to education funding. In 2014, our legislature recognized that Pennsylvania distributes education funding unfairly and established a Basic Education Funding Commission to design a better, fairer way to invest those education dollars. A new, fair, funding formula was unanimously approved by all members of the commission. Unfortunately, the legislature would only implement the newly adopted formula on the NEW money added to the Basic Education line item, while the Existing $5.5 billion would continue to be distributed unfairly. Recent studies show that this funding distribution method discriminates against school districts with higher minority populations. It certainly holds true in my home county of Monroe where the least-white (49%) district gets less than $2,000 per student while the mostly-white (77%) district gets more than $4,300 per student. Based on the last two state budgets there is no plan to reach equity in school funding, and $5.5 billion in basic education funding and nearly $1 billion in special education funding will continue to be distributed by this discriminatory method in perpetuity.  Tragically, by official state policy, Pennsylvania continues to discriminate against schools with higher populations of students of color,

Upper St. Clair School District Hikes Property Taxes
Expect Upper St. Clair School District taxes to rise again for at least the next two years.
Upper St. Clair Patch By Eric Heyl (Patch Staff) - Updated June 22, 2017 2:40 pm ET
UPPER ST. CLAIR, PA - Prepare to pay more in property taxes. Upper St. Clair school directors approved a 2017-18 district budget containing a millage increase of 0.8 mills. The new tax rate is 25.16 mills.  What does that mean for taxpayers? For those owning a $230,000 house, the median home value in the township, taxes will increase $188 or $16 per month.  The 2017-18 spending plan is an increase of nearly $3.5 million or 4.59 percent over the current budget. More than $1 million is attributed to mandated increases to the Public School Employees Retirement System, which has jumped from $2 million in 2007-08 to $11.3 million for 2017-18. Salaries, health care premiums, special education and transportation costs also have increased.  Despite state and federal mandates, funding levels remain at 21 percent and two percent respectively. Seventy-seven percent of the district’s budget is locally funded.  “The theme of school budgets continues to be increased mandates from both the state and federal levels with an absolute failure to adequately fund,” superintendent Patrick T. O’Toole said. “In effect, our legislators at every level have passed the buck of school funding to local school boards.”

Ringgold budget includes slight real estate tax increase
Observer Reporter By Scott Beveridge June 22, 2017
NEW EAGLE – Ringgold School Board, as expected Wednesday, approved a 2017-2018 district budget that includes a small increase in real estate taxes to pay for rising pension contributions and health care costs.  The upcoming $44.3 million budget is identical to the preliminary spending plan that was introduced by the school board in May, said Randy Skrinjorich, the district’s finance director.  Skrinjorich said the district has been fortunate because it’s building a new middle school that is paid for at a time when other districts are struggling to meet expenses.  “We’re on solid ground,” board President William Stein Jr. said.  He said the board didn’t want to cut programs. “We want our children to have every opportunity,” Stein said at the board meeting in the district’s administration building in New Eagle.  The .42-mill tax increase will raise $546,000 for the district. Prior to the Washington County tax reassessment that changed market values this tax season, 1 mil in Ringgold generated $125,000 in income, Stein said. Now, one mill will raise $31,250, Stein said.  Director Larry Mauro cast the only no vote on the budget, saying he would have preferred the board was given alternative spending plans to save money.

 “The district expects to spend $4.7 million for an estimated 473 students in cyber charter tuition at more than $10,000 per student. To combat that, the district purchased 501 online course licenses from Pearson Connexus for $190,000 to have district educators teach in this online learning environment and to bring students back into district learning environments.  …Expenditures are budgeted to increase $10.1 million, with retirement contributions jumping $2.66 million alone over last year, salaries increasing $2.3 million, almost $2 million more in charter school tuition payments and another for $1.45 million private school tuition.:”
Upper Darby hikes taxes, but not as much as feared
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 06/23/17, 4:42 AM EDT | UPDATED: 6 SECS AGO
UPPER DARBY>> There was no doubt a tax increase was going to happen with next year’s Upper Darby School District budget after last year’s hold-the-line grace period, but a last-minute amendment before the school board adopted a final budget will actually ease the pain for homeowners somewhat.  Homeowners in the school district will now see their property taxes increase by 2.89 percent, down a fraction from the 2.99 percent that was approved in the proposed final $199 million budget last month. The millage rate will increase to 36.2337, so a home assessed at $100,000 will see their tax bill increase approximately $100.  The budget itself has not actually changed from the proposed final plan.  The board approved the new tax increase with the budget by a 7-1 vote at a special June 20 meeting with Heather Boyd voting no. Manjit Singh was not present at the meeting.  School board director Vincent Gordon made the suggestion to the board to formally adopt the final budget following a closed-door meeting with administrators on June 12 with his board colleague Judy Gentile. Gordon and the administrators’ reasoning was found in the potential for the district to save $100,000 by bringing back 10 students with its new online cyber school that will launch this fall.

Tax increase, position shifts in Interboro budget
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 06/23/17, 4:41 AM EDT | UPDATED: 5 SECS AGO
PROSPECT PARK>> The Interboro School Board Wednesday night approved a $66 million budget for the 2017-18 school year with a tax increase and some restructuring of positions in the district.  By a 5-2 vote the board adopted the budget with a 3.2 percent property tax increase, which is actually down from the 3.4 increase that was approved last month with the preliminary final budget. The millage rate for the next school year will be set at 36.0377, increasing the tax bill for the average home owner with a property assessed at $88,000 by $98. Revenue from the tax increase will bring in an additional $1.23 million.  Salaries make up 49 percent of expenditures with benefits making up another huge chunk. Contributions to the state pension retirement system (PSERS) accounts for $10.2 million alone.

Pa. vo-tech students no longer need to worry about Keystone Exams
BY SARA K. SATULLO ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com, Updated on June 22, 2017 at 1:40 PM Posted on June 22, 2017 at 1:30 PM For lehighvalleylive.com
Pennsylvania high school students studying in career and technology education programs no longer have to pass the Keystone Exams to graduate.  On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 6, which allows those students to demonstrate proficiency through other ways. The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and it garnered bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate, according to a news release.  "This law will ensure our career and technical education system is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of emerging industries, is accountable to ensure every child has a chance to succeed, and is providing robust support for our educators," Turzai said in a press release.   The new law allows career and technical students to demonstrate proficiency through their grades and alternative assessments or industry-based certifications.

New law pulls focus away from Keystone exams
Philly Trib Stacy M. Brown Tribune Harrisburg Correspondent June 23, 2017
A new law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf this week will help provide Career and Technical Education students more options to meet graduation requirements and effectively diminish the importance of the state-standardized Keystone Exams.  House Bill 202, enacted by Wolf on Wednesday, amends state law to allow CTE students to demonstrate proficiency and readiness for high school graduation in an alternative pathway, removing the statutory requirement for the more burdensome Keystone tests.  Several local lawmakers and community groups say they are thrilled with the new law.  “Career and technical education is often overlooked as a pathway to success, but it’s an important one that more students can and should take advantage of,” said state Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191).  “It gives students more options to meet graduation requirements instead of the one-size-fits-all Keystone Exams and it’s not fair to provide everyone the same requirement for graduation yet not fund every public school adequately,” she said. The law provides four options for students. A 2016 state Department of Education report to the General Assembly spelled them out:

Rethinking the education model
Centre Daily Times Opinion BY DAVID HUTCHINSON JUNE 17, 2017 12:54 AM
David Hutchinson is in his 14th year as a member of the State College Area School Board, and is the Vice-President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Every Pennsylvania high school student should graduate with the skills to be successful in the modern world. I expect we would all agree on that. But what would this actually look like, and how would it be different from what many, if not most, of our schools are doing now?  Fortunately, this wheel doesn’t need to be invented. Some years ago, I heard a conference speaker discuss the simple way his organization addressed the issue: they asked business leaders and university administrators, “what important skills do your first-year employees/students lack when they show up at your door?” Here is the collective response: the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, collaborate with others and be creative problem-solvers (what the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills calls the “4 C’s”).  So why isn’t every school doing this intentionally and consistently? These concepts aren’t new to educators. One problem is that much of the public — and probably most of our policymakers — is stuck with a mental vision of education based on when they went to school, often decades ago. (You know, with the desks all in neat rows.) As a result, we continue to implement so-called education reforms — such as the PSSAs and the high school Keystone exams — that might have made sense in the middle of the last century when the United States was still an industrial economy.

Pa. guidelines for school discipline may change
A legislative report found disparities in how different demographic groups are treated. It recommends giving districts clearer direction on suspensions and arrests. A bill is now in committee.
The notebook by Greg Windle June 22, 2017 — 1:46pm
 This story was produced as part of the  Reentry Project, a collaborative news initiative about the challenges of -- and solutions to -- prisoner reentry in Philadelphia. 
After learning about a 6-year-old autistic student who was put in handcuffs for biting his aide in 2013, Phoenixville parent Blake Emmanuel took action. Before she was through, a bipartisan legislative commission had investigated harsh disciplinary practices in schools and concluded that they negatively affect all students, but that children of color and those with disabilities are disproportionately affected.  Emmanuel knew there was a better way. She has an autistic son who bit his aide at age 7, but her son was treated differently. Special education staff at his school met with Emmanuel, altered her son’s behavioral plan to give him more breaks for exercise, and changed the rewards system in his Individualized Education Program.  As a result of the work that Emmanuel’s advocacy set in motion, the Pennsylvania legislature’s bipartisan research arm released a comprehensive report in October 2016 highlighting troublesome school discipline practices. And her state representative, Warren Kampf, a Republican, recently introduced legislation to revamp Act 26, the law that governs how schools define a weapon and what it means for a student to “possess” one. The legislation, referred to the House Education Committee in May, limits the ability of districts to use harsh discipline selectively. The committee has yet to take any action.

As Democrats blast Senate GOP health-care plan, Toomey says it's a 'constructive first step'
Beaver County Times By J.D. Prose jprose@calkins.com June 22, 2017
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration joined the cacophony of criticism heaped on the U.S. Senate Republican health-care plan unveiled on Thursday as U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey defended it as a “constructive first step” to replacing the Affordable Care Act.  “The deeper and more devastating cuts to Medicaid in this plan make it even crueler than the House plan,” Wolf said in a statement. “Some politicians in Washington are completely disconnected from the reality of how cutting Medicaid will damage real Pennsylvania families and communities.”  Wolf said the plan, which was written by a 13-member Senate working group that included Toomey, R-Lehigh County, would decimate Medicaid funding -- hurting seniors, disabled children, working families and rural hospitals -- simply to give tax cuts to the wealthy.  “The Senate plan prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthy, modest deficit reductions and achieving a political victory over families who need lifesaving care,” said Wolf.  In a separate Twitter post, Wolf said he was “gravely concerned” about the effect repealing the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, “would have (on) hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.”  On a conference call, Toomey said he was “very disappointed at the way Gov. Wolf has chosen to mischaracterize what I’ve been doing and what we’re doing here.” Specifically, Toomey said Wolf has lamented “deep cuts” to Medicaid, yet Toomey said annual spending on Medicaid will increase.

Inside McConnell’s plan to repeal Obamacare
The Senate majority leader doesn’t have the votes yet. But if anyone can get them, it’s him.
Politico By BURGESS EVERETT  06/22/2017 07:16 PM EDT
As Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate’s long-anticipated Obamacare repeal bill at a closed-door briefing Thursday morning, he urged GOP senators to withhold statements announcing outright opposition to the proposal and remain flexible, according to people familiar with the matter.  About four hours later, a quartet of McConnell’s most conservative members said in a joint statement that they are “not ready to vote for this bill.”  But notably, GOP Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz left themselves plenty of room to eventually support it after further negotiation and persuasion — a critical nod to the Senate majority leader’s request.  The Kentucky Republican still has much work to do to get his health care overhaul across the finish line and may have to offer those senators some concessions that move the bill to the right. And somehow while doing so, he also must keep on board a pair of moderates and a half-dozen stalwart defenders of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.  Right now, McConnell is far from having a commitment for the 50 votes needed for passage, according to senators who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal politics of the 52-member caucus. But no one on Capitol Hill seems to be betting against the wily majority leader as he plans for one of the most critical roll call votes of his career next week.

Kansas Supreme Court Sets Calendar In School Funding Case
High Plains Public Radio By CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN  14 HOURS AGO Originally published on June 20, 2017 6:53 am
The Kansas Supreme Court has set a schedule for the latest chapter in the seven-year lawsuit that accuses the state of underfunding public schools.  Lawyers for the state and the plaintiff school districts will submit briefs in the Gannon case by June 30. That was the deadline for implementing a school finance formula that meets constitutional muster.  The Legislature only passed a new formula this month. The court is allowing that to take effect while legal proceedings continue.  The formula boosts funding by nearly $300 million over two years. If the court decides that’s not enough, the Legislature may have to return for a special session and put in more money.  Oral arguments in the case are scheduled to take place on July 18.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ

House Passes Bill to Overhaul Career-Tech Education by Giving More Power to States
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 22, 2017 2:46 PM
The House passed a reauthorization of the federal law governing career and technical education programs on Wednesday, but how exactly it will mesh with other workforce development efforts afoot in Washington remains to be seen.   Lawmakers backed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would overhaul the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Like the Every Student Succeeds Act, it gives more decision-making and funding authority to states. The bill's lead co-authors are Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.  Among other things, the bill would allow states to set aside money for their own competitive-grant or other funding streams for CTE, and increase the permitted share of federal aid states could set aside for their own use from 10 percent under current law to 15 percent. It also is designed to better connect education in local communities to their respective local labor market, and changes the definition of which students are counted as "concentrators" in career and technical education programs. (That last provision has caused some heartburn among CTE advocates who think it's overly broad, although it hasn't significantly hampered the legislation.)

“This post, written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, details issues on which many charter school supporters don’t want to focus. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has chronicled problems with standardized-test based school reform and the school choice movement on this blog for years.”
Problems with charter schools that you won’t hear Betsy DeVos talk about
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 22 at 10:05 AM 
President Trump has proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding to expand charter schools, and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has made clear that her major priority is expanding school choice, including charters. But one thing missing from their agenda is anything that seeks to hold charter schools and for-profit charter operators accountable for how they spend money and educate children and their level of transparency to the public.  Asked at a hearing earlier this year whether she was “going to have accountability standards” in any new school choice program, DeVos responded that states should decide “what kind of flexibility they are going to allow.”  Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated, sometimes by for-profit companies, and have been proliferating for more than 25 years, with thousands of them enrolling as much as 6 percent of America’s schoolchildren around the country.  Supporters of charter schools say they give parents an alternative to failing traditional public schools. Critics say they take vital resources away from traditional public schools and that while some charters are well-run and successful, many are poorly operated. In some cases, “poorly operated” is an understatement. Some states have scandal-ridden charter sectors, though the depths of the problems were hardly front and center at the annual charter conference in Washington earlier this month.


Online Classes for K-12 Students: 10 Research Reports You Need to Know
Education Week Digital Education blog By Benjamin Herold on June 21, 2017 12:57 PM
From Advanced Placement courses offered by state-run virtual schools to credit recovery classes delivered via third-party software, supplemental online education courses have exploded in K-12 education.  To help policymakers, administrators, educators, parents, and students make sense of it all, Education Week published an overview explaining the many varieties of online classes now available to K-12 students. It's part of our new special report on the state of classroom technology, which you can read here.  For those who want to dig deeper, here are the reports and research studies that have shaped what we know about the still-murky field of K-12 online supplemental courses.


Apply Now for EPLC's 2017-2018 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2017-2018 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 14-15, 2017 and continues to graduation in June 2018.

The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform.  In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators.  The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.

Pennsylvania Education Leadership Summit July 23-25, 2017 Blair County Convention Center - Altoona
A three-day event providing an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together
co-sponsored by PASA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, PASCD and the PA Association for Middle Level Education
**REGISTRATION IS OPEN**Early Bird Registration Ends after April 30!
Keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics, and district team planning and job-alike sessions will provide practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit and utilized at the district level.
Keynote Speakers:
Thomas Murray
, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement 
Breakout session strands:
*Strategic/Cultural Leadership
*Systems Leadership
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership 
CLICK HERE to access the Summit website for program, hotel and registration information.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017 Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA

Registration now open for the  67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs