Thursday, January 26, 2012

PA House Dems now tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators and members of the press via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

PA House Education Committee to hold informational meeting on cyber charter school funding and operating issues
Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:00 AM, Room 60 East Wing

Charter and Cyber Funding and Accountability Recap

Collection of previous KEYSEC postings on this topic

Auditor General Jack Wagner Says State Leadership Must Step Up, Fix Flawed Charter School Funding Formula

Piccola says “no other alternative” than to increase education spending because school reform failed Written by  Mary Wilson Tuesday, 24 January 2012 18:36
At one point during Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, Dauphin County Republican Sen. Jeff Piccola quoted the movie Cool Hand Luke: what we have here is a failure to communicate.  Piccola, a Senate GOP leader on the issue of school reform, hammered away at state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis and the Corbett administration for not getting more aggressive about education measures that failed last year.
 “We’ve got to move on these reforms,” said Piccola, who is not running for reelection at the end of his term this year.  Moreover, he said he doesn't see any option but to pony up emergency funding for the school districts facing insolvency.

Video and testimony from Senate Education Committee’s Public Hearing of January 24, 2012 regarding Fiscally Distressed School Districts
Video and written testimony from the hearing are posted on Chairman Senator Piccola’s website:

PA House Democratic Caucus Website
As districts consider their preliminary budgets and we await the Governor’s February 7th budget announcement, the PA House Democratic Caucus has begun daily tracking of press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

Pennsylvania asks for freeze on Adequate Yearly Progress
With unreachable No Child Left Behind deadlines looming in 2014, the state Secretary of Education requests a two-year recess on PSSA exam progress targets
By Mary Niederberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday, January 26, 2012
When the federal No Child Left Behind legislation was signed into law in 2002, it called for all students in public schools that receive federal funding to test proficient in math and reading by 2014.  But a decade later, education officials realize that goal is unlikely, if not impossible.

Teachers' salary freeze part of early contract agreement in Parkland
The tentative agreement calls for a freeze in the first year and a flat $1,250 increase for full-time teachers in the second year of the two-year contract.
By Marion Callahan, Of The Morning Call, 1:19 p.m. EST, January 24, 2012
A freeze in teachers' salaries for next year and a higher contribution by teachers to healthcare coverage are part of an early agreement reached by the Parkland Teachers Association and the Parkland School District during a Monday meeting.

Saucon Valley School District hoping to hold line on taxes — again
By Charles Malinchak, Special to The Morning Call, 12:52 p.m. EST, January 25, 2012
Saucon Valley School District's 2012-13 budget is showing no signs of a tax hike even though proposed expenses are about 1.2 percent higher than the previous year.
Although the budget is still under construction and won't be finalized until June, school Director Bryan Eichfeld said, "I am happy to say there is a zero tax increase.''

Southern Lehigh, teachers reach early bird contract
Agreement would tie raises to the financial health of the district.
By Melinda Rizzo, Special to The Morning Call, 12:50 p.m. EST, January 25, 2012
Southern Lehigh School District reached an early bird contract with its teachers that both sides agree could signal the dawn of a new era in negotiations — one of mutual understanding over the district's financial health.
The four-year pact begins Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31, 2016.
Under its terms, pay raises would be based on three factors: the district's revenues, its retirement contribution to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS), real operational costs.
"This is a completely new model, because what it says is we both share the risk. If the district does well, we will too. If times are tough, we share in that," said Bonnie Organski, a high school business education and technology teacher and president of the Southern Lehigh Education Association.

Teachers Offer the Wealthy an Escape from Poverty

 Anthony Cody  
Last night in President Obama's State of the Union address, he repeated a familiar refrain about the importance of teachers.  A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.
But it seems that it is those in power who are actually using teachers to escape from the realities of poverty these days.

It’s great that efforts are underway for healthier meals but this is still another underfunded federal mandate:
“The federal government will give schools an additional 6 cents a lunch to meet the standards. When fully implemented, the cost of preparing a healthier lunch that meets the new rules is estimated to rise by about 11 cents, and the cost of preparing a breakfast is estimated to increase by 28 cents, according the USDA says. The agency estimates that the increased cost of producing meals that meet the standard will be $3.2 billion over five years……Schools are required to meet the standards to get federal reimbursements for meals”
Government requires more fruits, veggies for school lunches
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY January 25, 2012
Students: Get ready for pizza with whole-grain crust and bigger portions of fruits and vegetables on your school lunch tray. You're still going to get French fries, but they'll probably be baked and sprinkled with less salt.  Today the government is releasing new nutrition standards for school meals that spell out dramatic changes, including slashing the sodium, limiting calories and offering students a wider variety and larger portions of fruits and vegetables. These changes will raise the nutrition standards for meals for the first time in more than 15 years.

USDA Unveils Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America's Schools
New Standards Will Improve the Health and Wellbeing of 32 Million Kids Nationwide
USDA Press Release FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 25. 2012 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. 

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