Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 14, 2013: It’s not just the Basic Education Subsidy. There was almost $227 million in the PA budget’s Charter Reimbursement line before it was zeroed out. Zero, zip, zilch…..

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 14, 2013: It’s not just the Basic Education Subsidy. There was almost $227 million in the PA budget’s Charter Reimbursement line before it was zeroed out.  Zero, zip, zilch…..

Pennsylvanians Want a School Funding Formula
Press Event Monday September 23rd, 11:30 am Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Every child in Pennsylvania deserves an opportunity to learn, whether they are from large or small, rich or not-so-rich, urban, suburban or rural school districts, charter schools or cyber schools; whether their legislator is a freshman state representative or a senate officer.
Grassroots Advocacy by Education Voters PA; Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley and the Keystone State Education Coalition
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One thing that all sides in the education debate in PA seem to agree upon is the need for a fair and adequate funding formula
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It’s not just the Basic Education Subsidy
In 2008-2009 (before the federal ARRA stimulus money) there was just under $227 million in the PA budget’s charter reimbursement line; it was zeroed out in 2011-12

“Noting his office has released more than 150 school district audits in his first nine months, Mr. DePasquale said, "One thing we see over and over again, especially in districts with limited tax base, is that the elimination of the charter school reimbursement funding in 2011 was devastating."
Audit: End of charter reimbursements hurting school districts
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 13, 2013 1:36 pm
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today highlighted the financial difficulties of the Duquesne and Sto-Rox school districts as he released their performance audits.
In a news release, he said, "Our most recent audits show that Duquesne City School District is over the cliff financially; and the Sto-Rox School District is teetering on the edge."
He said one challenge for both districts was the state's discontinuation in 2011-12 of its partial reimbursement for charter school payments. That cost each of the two districts hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“When the level funding in the basic education subsidy is combined with the loss of charter tuition reimbursements from the state; the freezing of construction reimbursements from the state; flat funding in special education funding and the huge increase in retirement payments, the bottom line loss is in the millions for both districts, Adams and Nester both said.
“Education funding for the last three years has been about dismantling public education and to me, that’s a crime,” Sparagana said.”
Property tax hearing highlights problems, solutions
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 09/11/13, 3:20 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO
POTTSTOWN — Property taxes and education funding — two inseparable subjects of debate in Pennsylvania for more than a decade — were front and center when the House Democratic Policy Committee brought its regional road trip to the Pottstown campus of Montgomery County Community College.
Over the course of the three-hour hearing, the school officials used their particular challenges to illustrate what they say is under-funding of public education by the state; Democratic legislators used their time primarily to criticize Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s education funding policies and advocates from AARP and the PA Budget and Policy Center offered potential solutions that they said could stabilize both education funding and decrease dependence on property taxes.

“There are also mixed messages in data about whether the Maryland model would actually save money.  A U.S. Census Bureau study of per pupil spending from 2011, for example, showed combined spending for general administration and school administration in Maryland that year at $1,110 per student.  The corresponding figure in Pennsylvania? Just $941.”
York County lawmakers to seek school consolidation study
By Charles Thompson |  on September 13, 2013 at 8:15 AM
A group of York County Republican lawmakers have asked a state fiscal office to run the numbers on what would happen to costs and tax rates if the administration of York's 15 separate school districts was joined into one, county-wide entity.
It is the latest step, several representatives said Thursday, in their ongoing quest to do everything possible to keep school property taxes - the main local funding mechanism for Pennsylvania school districts - in check.
"We keep trying to find, as a delegation, any way address the property tax issue in York County," said Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus.  "A lot of this is driven by their impact on our senior citizens," Miller said, adding "If we can't eliminate property taxes, we need to find other ways that we're going to be able to control costs."

York County school consolidation to get a deeper look
Lawmakers say the question often arises: 'Why do we have 16 school districts?'
By ANGIE MASON Daily Record/Sunday News Updated:   09/13/2013 10:07:54 PM EDT
York County's Republican state representatives have asked a state office to look at whether merging school district administrations would save money for taxpayers.
At a news conference Friday, the legislators said they have asked the state's Independent Fiscal Office, which is charged with providing impartial analysis on issues, to examine the issue. Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said the study aims to address the questions that come up all the time from residents.
"Why do we have 16 school districts? Why do we have 16 administrations?" he said.
Grove said that the state office will look at the potential cost savings of merging administrations, as well as the effects of merging tax bases and combining debt, and the impact on state funding.

Former head of school intermediate unit IV charged with theft, fraud
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Bill Vidonic  Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Police charged the former head of Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV on Friday with theft and access device fraud, accusing her of using a company credit card for personal expenses over several years.  Cecelia Yauger, 55, of Grove City waived a preliminary hearing when Grove City police charged her with one count each of theft and unauthorized access device use, both felony charges. She remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond. A formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Mercer County Court.
Districts, teachers at loss over solving strikes by MARY NIEDERBERGER, The Associated Press Saturday, September 14, 2013, 12:05 AM PITTSBURGH (AP)
Gone are the days when teachers stayed on strike until their contracts were settled and school boards could raise taxes to fund the agreements. Now, it's not uncommon for negotiations to go far beyond the expiration dates -- in some cases several years -- before a settlement is reached. The reason: financial pressures on districts that include drops in state and federal funding, large hikes in pension contributions and state-imposed limits on raising taxes, coupled with a state law governing contract negotiations that has no real teeth.

Budget crisis shutters libraries at 2 top Philly schools
Susan Snyder, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Friday, September 13, 2013, 1:08 AM When Central High School opened its new library in 2005 - a $4.5 million research and media hub funded by alumni - Apple named it a national model. Students visited it more than 147,000 times last year, more than 800 visits a day. Masterman School's library, also bolstered by fund-raising, bustled with students, too, from early morning till late afternoon. But now both libraries - the academic hearts of two of Philadelphia's most prestigious schools - have been shuttered.

Closings prompt big adjustments at Philly receiving schools
South Philadelphia High, Lea Elementary, and many others raced to prepare for a major influx of students from 24 shuttered schools.
The notebook by Dan Hardy October 2013
Dan Hardy is a freelance reporter who writes about education in the region.
South Philadelphia High principal Otis Hackney welcomed members of the Bok Technical High School community to his school at an event in August aimed at smoothing the transition.
As South Philadelphia High School opens its doors this fall for the new school year, it is a dramatically different place than it was in June. 
More than half the estimated 1,400 students enrolled by late August to begin classes in the building on Sept. 9 would have been enrolled at the nearby Bok Technical High School, if Bok had remained open. 
Instead, Bok and 23 other schools were ordered shut down by the School Reform Commission this spring, as a cost-saving measure.
As a result, thousands of children are heading for new schools this fall, creating new opportunities for some and the danger of chaos and disruption for others, as administrators already overtaxed by the District’s recent draconian cutbacks work to cope with the transfers

Philadelphia’s Central High School Robotics Team September 11, 2013 · by Thomas D. 
We, the members of Central High School’s RoboLancers, FIRST Robotics Team #321, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the “RoboLancers”), recognize the impact of inadequate funding to public schools and the deficits caused by the budget crisis in education.  The current budget crisis negatively impacts every public school student and educator in the City of Philadelphia.  As an organization affected by this crisis, we wish to make a statement to our School District and our local and state government:

“Unlike a traditional business whose product or service is targeted to a specific consumer, school systems serve everyone. For students and parents, our product is an education. For employers, our product is a skilled and knowledgeable worker. For the taxpayer, our product is frugal stewardship of public money. For society, it’s an informed and responsible citizen. For our employees, the product is a satisfying career with opportunities for growth and a reliable income.
Each of these customer groups also has varying and often competing interests and priorities.”
The Complicated Layers of Competing Interests 
In addressing Erie, Pa.’s, dire fiscal state, a superintendent discovers what it takes to find common ground and mutually agreeable solutions.
AASA School Adminstrator Sept. 2013 BY JAY D. BADAMS
Anyone who has served in the role of superintendent, no matter the size of the district, has had those moments at day’s end when rather than reflecting, you simply shake your head and try to recall everything that happened since you walked into your office that morning.
While thinking about the complexity of district leadership, a number of metaphors come to mind, but no matter how skilled I think I am at organizational leadership, there are days when I am simply the shiny steel ball in the pinball machine. Other days, I am the chef at a busy restaurant, the referee at a particularly contentious and combative ice hockey game, a firefighter, police officer, judge, sales representative, diplomat and even a teacher. In some districts, we assume the title of CEO, just like leaders in the corporate world.

Pennsylvania is spending about 6% less per student than in 2008….
K-12 School Funding Remains Below Pre-Recession Levels in at Least 34 States
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities September 13, 2013 at 9:34 am
States have made widespread and very deep cuts to education formula funding since the start of the recession, and those cuts linger in most states, our updated analysis of state school funding shows.  The reduced levels reflect not only the recession’s lingering effects but also continued austerity in many states; indeed, despite some improvements in overall state revenues, schools in about a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year.

Tennessee media have reported that nearly half of the superintendents in the state have signed the letter. Lawson is still collecting signatures.”
Tennessee school superintendents protest against state ed chief
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 13 at 1:59 pm
A number of school superintendents in Tennessee have signed on to a letter that asks Gov. Bill Haslam (R) to force the state’s education commission to stop implementing controversial school reform measures and take time to evaluate what has already been put in place.
The Tennessean reports that the letter written and circulated by Dan Lawson,  director of Tullahoma City Schools, says in part: We are not content with the current leadership and feel that we are not best serving our state in this manner.
Kevin Huffman, a former Teach For America official and the former husband of school reformer Michelle Rhee, has instituted a number of controversial reforms since he became education commissioner of Tennessee in April 2011. Among them is the linkage of student standardized-test scores to teacher evaluations and to teachers’ licensing.

Just in case you think we only send out bad news….
Pat Metheny- September fifteenth
Youtube video runtime 8:14
Beautiful performance by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays

Forbes: Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City
Forbes by Addison Wiggin, Contributor9/10/2013 @ 5:31PM 2,245 views
On Thursday, July 25, dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes. Of course, the promotional material for the Capital Roundtable’s conference on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies” didn’t put it in such crass terms, but that’s what’s going on.
Charter schools are booming. “There are now more than 6,000 in the United States, up from 2,500 a decade ago, educating a record 2.3 million children,” according to Reuters.
Charters have a limited admissions policy, and the applications can be as complex as those at private schools. But the parents don’t pay tuition; support comes directly from the school district in which the charter is located.   They’re also lucrative, attracting players like the specialty real estate investment trust EPR Properties EPR -0.97% (EPR). Charter schools are in the firm’s $3 billion portfolio along with retail space and movie megaplexes.
Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans

Fat City in PA #1? – You decide; here’s info on the man behind Pennsylvania’s largest brick and mortar charter school:
Follow the Money: Contributions by Vahan Gureghian

Fat City in PA #2? – You decide; here’s info on the man behind Pennsylvania’s largest cyber charter school:
Former cyber CEO Trombetta allegedly directed funds to campaign contributions

OPM:  School boards are far from perfect but they provide 9 pairs of eyes to review budgets, check registers and contracts.  School board members see the folks that elected them every day.
Charter schools may be “public”, but they receive “shrink-wrapped” tax dollars and never have to look the taxpayers in the eye….As Vince Fumo said, “it’s other people’s money”…..
PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

The Colbert Report hosts Arne Duncan September 17th
Tuesday's Guest. 11:00pm / 10:00c Arne Duncan. U.S. Secretary of Education, TEACH Campaign.

Education Law Center Annual Event Sept. 18th, 2013
Featuring Morris Dees and honoring education advocates Barbara Minzenberg and the Philadelphia Student Union.  Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 5:30 p.m., Crystal Tea Room, Wanamaker Building 100 Penn Square East, Philadelphia

PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission Upcoming Meeting Has Been Rescheduled to Sept 26th in Reading
Was originally scheduled for September 19.  No venue announced yet
To consider charter and cyber special education funding

Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Philly at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here:

Yinzers - Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill.
5505 Forbes Avenue  Pittsburgh, PA 15217 
Free and open to the public; doors open at 5:00 pm
Hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh: Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.
Co-sponsored by Carlow Univ. School of Education, Chatham Univ. Department of Education, Duquesne Univ. School of Education, First Unitarian Church Social Justice Endowment, PA State Education Association, Robert Morris Univ. School of Education & Social Sciences, Slippery Rock Univ. College of Education, Temple Sinai, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Education, and Westminster College Education Department.
Children’s activities provided by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s HearMe project. 

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

PASCD Annual Conference ~ A Whole Child Education Powered by Blendedschools Network November 3-4, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
We invite you to join us for the Annual Conference, held at an earlier date this year, on Sunday, November 3rd, through Monday, November 4th, 2013 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.  The Pre-Conference begins on Saturday with PIL Academies and Common Core sessions.  On Sunday and Monday, our features include keynote presentations by Chris Lehmann and ASCD Author Dr. Connie Moss, as well as numerous breakout sessions on PA’s most timely topics.
Click here for the 2013 Conference Schedule

Click here to register for the conference. 

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