Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 26, 2013: If PA funded its fair share of education we probably would not need tax reform.
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education
Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school
directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers,
Governor's staff, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders,
education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory
agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via
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Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for September 26, 2013:
If PA funded its fair share of education
we probably would not need tax reform.
Pennsylvania contributes a smaller share of the
cost of educating its students than most states, leaving local taxpayers to
Good morning folks – just a quick
heads-up that after publishing the Keystone State Education Coalition’s
Education Policy Roundup 6 days a week since November 2010 we will be taking a
brief hiatus beginning this Friday morning.
House Bill 618 “CharterSchool Reform” approved by the House
“The ranking Democrat on
the House Education Committee, Rep. James Roebuck of Philadelphia, has said the bill does not
include enough taxpayer savings or financial reforms. He argues the change in
pension funding should be extended to brick-and-mortar charter schools, not
just cyber charter schools, and that charter schools should be banned from
using public money for advertising.” Pa. bill proposes review of charter school funding
plan calls for commission to study regulations
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau September 26, 2013
HARRISBURG -- The
Pennsylvania House on Wednesday sent the Senate a package of revisions to
charter school regulations, including a temporary change in payments to cyber
charter schools while a commission examines charter funding.
The funding structure for cyber charter schools is frequently criticized
for delivering disproportionate reimbursement for pension costs and for
including expenses, such as cafeteria costs, that do not apply to online
The House proposal, which passed 133-62, would allow school districts for
the next two school years to deduct the full cost of their pension
contributions and food service when calculating their per-pupil expenses for
the purpose of tuition to cyber charter schools. The change would not apply to
tuition payments to charter schools that students attend in person.
Clymer Applauds Passage
of Charter, CyberCharterSchool
PA House Republican Caucus website 9/25/2013
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks), chairman of the House
Education Committee, today applauded House passage of legislation aimed at
instituting much-needed reforms for Pennsylvania’s charter and cyber charter
schools in order to ensure greater accountability, transparency, academic
performance and cost savings to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
“With the rapid increase in the amount of charter and cyber charter
schools available to students in Pennsylvania, we are now facing some very real
and challenging funding issues,” said Clymer. “Basically, the state provides a
per-pupil funding amount which follows the student, whether he or she attends a
traditional public school, charter school or cyber charter school. However, not
all schools are created equal. Cyber charter schools most of the time do not
provide transportation or food services and do not have facility maintenance
obligations like traditional public and charter schools have. It is because of
these types of expenditure differences that modifications to the funding
formula are needed.”
House Bill 618 would create a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission
to explore funding issues related to charter and cyber charter schools and make
appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor by March 30, 2014.
“The scores are so bad,
especially at the largest and most high-profile cyber schools, that even
fervent advocates of online learning have begun to worry.” Cyber
schools flunk, but tax money keeps flowing
send nearly $2 billion a year to cyber schools that let students from
kindergarten through 12th grade receive a free public education entirely
The schools, many managed by
for-profit companies, are great at driving up enrollment with catchy
advertising. They excel at lobbying. They have a knack for making generous
campaign donations. But as new state
report cards coming out now make clear, there’s one thing they’re not so good
at: educating kids.
PA Special Education Funding Formula Commission
Public Meeting Sept 26th at AlverniaCollege in Reading from –
charter and cyber special education funding
Property Tax Elimination
Bill Threatens Long-term Public School Funding
PA Budget and PolicyCenter Posted by Sharon
Ward on September
contributes a smaller share of the cost of educating its students than most
states, leaving local taxpayers to contribute more. This makes the resources
available to public education highly dependent on local wealth and property
taxes burdensome for some individuals.
Restoring the state’s commitment to fund 50% of the cost of public
schools would go a long way toward solving both problems — ensuring that
students who live in modest and lower-wealth districts get the same
high-quality education as their wealthier counterparts, and reducing the
pressure on property taxpayers.
"The majority of
funds distributed for the current school year were based upon statistics from
the 1989-90 school year. An additional $30 million was distributed to just 21
of our 500 school districts. Thirty-three of the 37 lawmakers who represent
those 21 districts are legislative leaders, committee chairs, vice chairs or
secretaries," said KSEC's Larry Feinberg.”
Advocates press for Pennsylvania public
education funding formula
Opinion Online September
Parents, teachers, administrators, community members and other advocates
of education on Monday urged state lawmakers to consider a data-driven,
transparent school funding formula that is appropriately funded to ensure
student success. Those gathered at the
Capitol reminded lawmakers that the only service Pennsylvania is required to provide per the
state Constitution is a "thorough and efficient system of education."
Supporters came from a wide range of school districts, including local
Greencastle-Antrim, Shippensburg Area and Fannett-Metal, as well as Camp Hill, CumberlandValley,
others around the state.
The school funding formula in place was set aside in 2011, and the
Keystone State Education Coalition contends that state legislators now allocate
funding to school districts based on deal among themselves rather than a
“They worry, as we all
should, about the quality of education programs. Said Mark Miller, vice
president of the PennsylvaniaSchool Boards
Association, “Some school districts have closed libraries, some school
districts have ... cut athletics. The sizes of classes are going up,
extracurricular activities are going down.”
Courier Times Editorial: Finding
a fair funding formula
BucksCounty Courier Times Posted: Wednesday,
When people in Harrisburg
sit down in a back room to cut deals, you know nothing good will come of it —
at least not for the folks missing from the table. And so it was that 21 Pennsylvania school districts recently were
awarded a split of $30 million in so-called “supplementary funds.” Lucky them.
Not so lucky were the 479 districts that didn’t get a nickel.
And that’s why Pennsylvania
needs a school funding formula that “fairly” divvies up state education money —
what little there is. And “little” is an accurate description considering the
state has long stiffed school districts by failing to meet its constitutional
obligation of providing enough funding for a “thorough and efficient” school
system. That, in part, is why local school taxes are out of control
“Sharon Ward, with the
left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and PolicyCenter,
opposes efforts to eliminate the property tax, arguing that it incorrectly
regards rapidly rising property taxes as the fault of school districts, when
the indirect cause is that they are receiving less money from the state. She
warns that replacing the property tax with other levies could "lock
in" low state funding levels for education.”
Anti-property tax sentiment passionate, but diffuse
eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania
stretch back decades, but the latest effort is moving at cross-purposes with
other bills. More than 100 people
rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday in support of a plan to eliminate
school property taxes in Pennsylvania
once and for all.
Sen. Dinniman calls for
eliminating property taxes
By Frank Otto,
The Pottstown Mercury POSTED: 09/24/13, EDT
HARRISBURG — When supporters of legislation
aimed at eliminating school property taxes stepped onto their Harrisburg-bound
buses early Tuesday morning, they believed they were three senators away from
achieving a majority. Before lunchtime,
state Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19th Dist., told The Mercury he was ready to sign
on by the end of the week.
thing is I wanted to understand whether things were revenue neutral,” Dinniman
said. “And it appears they can be.”
PlanCon: FranklinCounty school districts face dwindling
Opinion Online By JIM HOOK @JimHookPO
school construction projects is falling squarely on the shoulders of local
Department of Education has frozen reimbursement for school construction
districts are looking at how to do major construction without an estimated 25
percent reimbursement from the state. They are already paying out of pocket
what they thought the state would cover for the $14 million Franklin County
Career and TechnologyCenter. Some are footing
the total bill for projects in their own districts.
to a study released today by the Pew
Charitable Trusts, Philadelphians' love for their city and their mayor
has plummeted, erasing years of positive momentum built on political reforms
and population gains. A survey of 1,605 city residents revealed that despite a
locally robust housing market and a recovering economy, only 37 percent of
Philadelphians thought the city was headed "in the right direction,"
the lowest percentage recorded in five years. Only 25 percent of those surveyed
thought the city "had become a better place to live in the last five
years". Mayor Michael Nutter's approval rating
also hit an all time low of 39 percent, down from a high of 60 percent, with
decreases recorded in every racial and socio-economic demographic surveyed.
City Council's approval rating also fell to 30 percent, although this was
not as dramatic of a decrease over past years.
In little more
than two years, the Philadelphia
school district has stripped $400 million out of its annual budget, closed 30
schools, eliminated nearly 7,000 jobs, and lost more than 20,000 students. The teetering city system, said
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., desperately needs "to show a
So Mr. Hite
is placing a controversial bet: Although scores of schools opened here this month without
regular guidance counselors, nurses, or basic supplies, the superintendent is
pouring millions of dollars into expanding what he considers to be three of the
city's most innovative schools. They include ScienceLeadershipAcademy, an acclaimed
magnet high school at the forefront of the national effort to marry educational
technology with so-called "deeper learning." "We have to have an investment
conversation about the types of schools we would love to see in our
district," Mr. Hite said in an interview. "This whole conversation
cannot just be about what we're taking away, what we are starving, what we are
Drexel eyes purchase of
University City High School
by JARED BREY , PLANPHILLY September 25, 2013,
DrexelUniversity has its
eye on University CityHigh School. The school
at 36th and Filbert streets in West Philadelphia was just one of 23 Philadelphia public
schools shuttered in June, but it may be the one that’s least likely to sit
empty for very long. The Office of Property Assessment put its value at nearly
$23 million, and according to a number of sources, Drexel is not the only
entity ready to make an offer on the empty property. But it may be the only entity ready to make
an offer that includes opening a new public school. Last year, the Philadelphia
School Partnership made
a grant to Powel Elementary, a small K-4 school near 38th and Poweltown Ave., to
plan for its expansion and possible relocation. The planning involved DrexelUniversity
and ScienceLeadershipAcademy, a public high school that is
itself a partnership between the School District
and the Franklin Institute.
allegations of mismanagement to concerns about declining academic standards and
the criminal charges filed against an administrator, it's been a controversial
couple of weeks for the SusquehannaSchool District. To make it easier for you to find our op-Eds,
letters, columns and editorials about this ongoing story, we've created a
special section "Susquehanna School Strife." That's where
you'll find all of the ongoing coverage by PennLive's Opinion section.
Although he is quoted and mentioned several times in the affidavit related to PennsylvaniaCyberCharterSchool founder Nick
Trombetta's indictment, Midland School Superintendent Sean Tanner is not
publicly talking and neither are other district officials.
is not charged, has not responded to requests for comment made by The Times
since Friday, and Midland School Board President Richard Corradi and district
solicitor Robert Masters have not returned calls. That silence leaves Tanner's
status with the district, where he has been superintendent since 2006, unclear.
on the school district's website was gone as of Thursday, but a school board
member and Tanner's secretary both said Friday he was still the superintendent.
if there was a way to turn schools around without turning them upside down?
trip time, reader — and today we’re off to visit a real live school success
story. FYI: it’s not the Massachusetts miracle turnaround
school that got a shout-out at
the Democratic National Convention, merited a visit by Yo Yo Ma,
or whose students recently traveled to theWhite
House in order to recite a Martin Luther King speech to President Obama.
In other words, we’re NOT headed to OrchardGardens, which has received more
adulatory press coverage than any other public school in Massachusetts…
Business Leaders Rally
Around Early Childhood Education
Five Years Fund SEP
chairman of PNC Financial supports it. The former CEO and chairman of Macy’s
backs it. The former CEO of Procter & Gamble is for it. And so is the CEO
of Kaiser Permanente. So what is it that all these business industry leaders
support? Early childhood education.
leaders are finding that employees entering the workforce have not learned many
of the skills necessary to succeed. Too many employees lack the essential
capabilities that allow an individual to be persistent on the job and
collaborate effectively with a team––skills that are fostered in the first five
years of life and developed through high-quality early learning.
remained flat for students in the class of 2013, with just 43 percent
performing well enough to be considered college-ready—the same proportion as
last year, according to new results issued Thursday. Yet, African-American and Latino students in
this year’s graduating class saw slight gains. Also, a record share of students
taking the college-entrance exam (46 percent) were minorities.
25, 2013 Reporting & Analysis: Alyson Klein | Visualization
& Design: Megan Garner and Doris Nhan
uncertainty that education advocates and school districts have lived with for
the past two years doesn't seem likely to go away anytime soon. The
across-the-board cuts known as "sequestration" that went into effect
last March are still in place. And now, a spending showdown driven by
conservative Republicans in Congress over whether to defund the president's
landmark health-care law means a government shutdown could be in the offing.
Plus, there's likely to be yet another fight in October over raising the
federal debt ceiling. Here's a handy guide to what's happened so far and what
to watch for.
NIXLE Group by texting "4NPE" to 888777. After sending the initial text, NIXLE will
ask for a "zipcode" - providing a zipcode will limit messages to
local interest of each subscriber. Leave the zipcode blank if you want to
receive all grassroot alerts from NPE.
PASA-PSBASchool 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.
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.
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
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.
Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson &
David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).
Conference ~ A Whole Child Education Powered by Blendedschools Network
November 3-4, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
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 PILAcademies 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.
Fourth Annual Fundraiser
and Awards Ceremony THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2013
IBEW Local 380 3900 Ridge Pike Collegeville, PA
Building One Pennsylvania is an emerging
statewide non-partisan organization of leaders from diverse sectors -
municipal, school, faith, business, labor and civic - who are joining together
to stabilize and revitalize their communities, revitalize local economies and
promote regional opportunity and sustainability. BuildingOnePa.org
Join the NationalSchoolBoardsActionCenterFriends of Public Education
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
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
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
www.psba.org. 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 http://www.psba.org/elections/.
Proposed Amendments to
PSBA Bylaws available online
PSBA website 9/17/2013
A special issue of the School Leader News with the
notice of proposed PSBA Bylaws amendments has been mailed to all school
directors and board secretaries.
This issue also is available online in the Members Only section by clicking here. Voting on PSBA Bylaws changes will take
place at the new Delegate Assembly on Oct. 15, 2013, at the Hershey Lodge &
Convention Center from 1-4 p.m. All member school entities should have
appointed their voting delegates and submitted names to PSBA. Details on
selecting an entity's voting delegate can be found in previous issues of
the School Leader News.