Thursday, June 21, 2012

Proposed PA budget: $100 million supervoucher EITC/EISC giveaway to private schools/state bailout of religious schools; NO $$$ for Harrisburg Kindergarten

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Framework for $27.656B budget reached.
Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek June 20, 2012
Gov. Tom Corbett and legislative Republicans said Wednesday that they’d arrived at a “framework” for a  $27.656 billion state budget for 2012-13 that adds money to some state programs that had originally been targeted for cuts.
The spending plan’s bottom line is a  roughly $500 million increase from the $27.14 billion budget that Corbett presented to lawmakers in February.
The increase was partly fueled by what are expected to be healthy June tax collections. It also roughly matches the bottom line of an amended version of the spending plan approved by the Senate earlier this spring.

Posted: 10:35 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Corbett, lawmakers announce budget agreement

By MARC LEVY The Associated Press
An agreement on a nearly $27.7 billion budget deal announced Wednesday evening by Gov. Tom Corbett and top Republican lawmakers appears to be nearly identical to what lawmakers had proposed several weeks earlier, a plan that would cut taxes for businesses while squeezing programs for the poor and disabled.
It also includes a meeting of the minds on legislation to create a tax credit sought by Corbett in his pursuit of bringing an integrated petrochemical industry to Pennsylvania, anchored by a multibillion-dollar refinery planned in the Pittsburgh area by a subsidiary of Netherlands-based oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

PA Auditor General: Taxpayers overcharged $365 million annually for charter schools
Auditor General Jack Wagner says state's charter school system most costly in nation.
By Steve Esack, Of The Morning Call 5:08 p.m. EDT, June 20, 2012
Pennsylvania taxpayers could save $365 million a year if state officials fixed a charter school funding formula that is the most costly in the nation, Auditor General Jack Wagner said Wednesday.  The state's 15-year-old funding formula is so flawed and out-of-date, Wagner said, Pennsylvania spends more on its 162 charter schools than other states that have a similar number of students enrolled in independent charter and cyber schools.
He called on Gov. Tom Corbett, the Legislature and state Education Department to immediately reduce charter and cyber charter funding by more than $3,000 per student to match the $10,000 per-pupil national average his office calculated. He also wants them to plug a loophole that costs taxpayers $50 million a year in unnecessary pension payments for charter employees.
"The most valid point I want to make today is Pennsylvania taxpayers are paying too much," Wagner said at a Harrisburg news conference announcing findings in a special report. "There is no common sense to what taxpayers are paying to educate children."

Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that Pennsylvania could save $365 million a year in taxpayer money by adopting separate charter and cyber charter school funding formulas similar to those used in other states, and by closing an administrative loophole that permits double-dipping in pension payments through the calculation of tuition rates. 
See the Auditor General’s Cyber Charter Special Report

Posted: Thu, Jun. 21, 2012, 3:01 AM
Pa. auditor again blasts funding formula for cyber and charter schools
By Martha Woodall Inquirer Staff Writer
Pennsylvania taxpayers could save $365 million each year if the state fixed its flawed formula for funding cyber and charter schools, state Auditor General Jack Wagner said Wednesday.
Wagner released a report saying the state has spent "substantially more" than the national average on the charter and cyber charter schools that educate more than 100,000 students.
"With the tightening of school budgets and funding available to school districts throughout the state," Wagner said, "Pennsylvania's flawed and overly generous funding formula for charter and cyber charter schools is a luxury taxpayers can no longer afford."

Pennsylvania Bill Boosts Charter Schools In Ailing Areas
By Romy Varghese - Jun 20, 2012 12:01 AM ET
Pennsylvania’s Senate passed a measure to let the state take over fiscally distressed school districts and make charter conversions easier, a provision that spurred opposition from teachers.
The bill, which would permit the appointment of a chief recovery officer to develop a plan for a school district whose finances trigger oversight, passed 27-21 yesterday. A receiver would be named if district leaders reject the blueprint, and conversions to charter schools could be implemented based solely on the recovery proposal, if they provide savings.
“This bill is ideologically driven, hidden under the name of distressed schools that is about driving an agenda for charters and hurting unions,” Mike Crossey, president of the 187,000-member Pennsylvania State Education Association, said by telephone. The bill passed theHouse of Representatives earlier.
Charter schools can ignore district union contracts. Provisions easing charter conversions don’t often show up in laws aimed at helping right the fiscal affairs of local boards, Mike Griffith, a senior policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States, said by telephone.

Let's ease school districts' pain

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 5:41 AM
By Patriot-News Op-Ed By Thomas J. Gentzel
Thomas J. Gentzel is executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
The end of the school year has come for most Pennsylvania schools. The tests and assignments are done and graduation ceremonies are complete. But behind the scenes, boards of school directors are trying desperately to balance budgets for the coming year that, in many cases, are in deficit by millions of dollars.  Sadly, this scenario is becoming more frequent each year as Pennsylvania pulls back on its obligation to adequately fund public education. Money might be tight, but the state’s priorities must be set straight.

Early education: State must play catch-up on kindergarten

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 6:07 AM
By Patriot-News Editorial Board 
It is hard to fathom a child starting school at age 8 and even more difficult to imagine her not ever attending kindergarten.
Yet in Pennsylvania, there is no requirement for children to begin school until age 8 and even worse, there is no mandate that a district must provide kindergarten.  …l.Pennsylvania is one of only five states that does not require school districts to offer kindergarten, according to the national Education Commission of the States.

Capitolwire: Senate GOP impatient with House progress on education reform
Peter L. DeCoursey, Capitolwire Bureau Chief 6/20/2012
HARRISBURG (June 19) -- After this morning's budget meeting, House GOP leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett's staff intensified negotiations and work on a proposed education reform plan.
The hope is to have the language of that plan at least in an advanced draft form, for review by key groups and Senate Republicans within a day or two, negotiators said.
But a top Senate leader expressed a growing level of frustration with the House and the governor's office and the progress of the talks.

Charter School Reform:
Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? If not, why not?
If they tell you that we should make it easier to authorize charters or that they are already accountable enough have them read this:

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

More details on HB 2364 from PSBA:


Education Voters PA ‏@EdVotersPA
Please take 2 minutes to send an email to your state reps; ask them to restore public ed funding:

Those 857 Desks? A Message for the Candidates

New York Times By ADESHINA EMMANUEL Published: June 20, 2012
WASHINGTON — Tourists trying to figure out how to reach the capital’s monuments and museums on Wednesday found something on the National Mall that was not on their maps: 857 student desks arrayed near the Washington Monument.
Each desk represents one of the 857 students who drop out of high school in the United States every single hour, every single school day, according to the College Board, which arranged the display to underline its effort to urge presidential candidates to put education at the top of their to-do lists.

Diane Ravitch on PBS Newshour June 5th, 2012

Here are more than 800 articles since January detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

June 29 is deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform
Your school board is invited to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform. The association is accepting proposals now until Friday, June 29, 2012.  Guidelines for platform submissions are posted on PSBA’s Web site.  The PSBA Platform Committee will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 11. The recommendations of the committee will be brought before the Legislative Policy Council for a final vote on Oct. 18.

PSBA accepting nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Last year, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award 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. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 22, 2012. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. For more information and criteria details, see the Allwein Advocacy Award page. To obtain an application form, see the Allwein Advocacy Award Nomination Form. Completed forms should be returned no later than June 22 to: Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Advocacy Award Selection Committee, PO Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0790.

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail

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