Thursday, May 22, 2014

PA ED Policy Roundup for May 22, 2014: Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 22, 2014:
Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty

Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty
Citypaper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 05/21/2014
A first-grade student died today after falling ill at Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia, where no school nurse was on duty. Philadelphia schools have suffered dramatic staffing cuts to nurses and other positions in recent years.  "We had a very tragic day at Jackson Elementary," says School District of Philadelphia spokesperson Fernando Gallard. Gallard says that the  boy showed signs of distress in the classroom and was given CPR by one of three trained adults in the classroom. They called 911 immediately and an ambulance arrived to take him to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He died an unknown time later.

First-grader at Jackson School in South Phila. dies after becoming ill at school
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 8:08 PM POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 7:21 PM
A 7-year-old student died suddenly after becoming ill at a city public school on Wednesday.
The child, a first grader at Jackson School in South Philadelphia, experienced a medical emergency and appeared to stop breathing. Classroom staff administered CPR and called 911, and the child was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was pronounced dead.
"It's shocking, and it's tragic, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family," said School District spokesman Fernando Gallard.  There was no nurse at Jackson at the time the child, whose name was not released, became ill, Gallard said. The school of 450 students has a nurse every Thursday and every other Friday.

"While this hearing was going on, unbeknownst to participants, a 1st grader collapsed in a school without a nurse on duty and later died, triggering new outrage that conditions in the District caused by underfunding are not just just inadequate, but lethal."
Officials plead again with City Council for funds to avert a new round of layoffs
the notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on May 21 2014 Posted in Latest news
City Council summoned School District leadership Wednesday to answer more questions on the needs of the schools and to argue over what the city can and should provide.
But after three hours of sharp verbal sparring, they seemed no closer to a breakthrough that could get the District enough money in time to avoid triggering hundreds of layoffs and planning for class sizes next September of 40 students or more.

District continues push for funding in Council
 WITH THE Philadelphia School District inching closer to massive layoffs for the second straight year, officials returned to City Hall yesterday to plead their case for additional funding.
At the request of City Council, district officials were in Council chambers to answer questions regarding the $216 million the district says is needed to keep schools at current "inadequate" levels. The district is asking the city for an extra $195 million, including $120 million from the extension of the sales-tax hike and an additional $75 million, possibly from a cigarette tax.
Superintendent William Hite said the clock is ticking because, under state law, the district would have to send out layoff notices to employees by June 30. Even if the employees were called back, he said, the district would incur costs it cannot recoup.   "In addition to that, we have now many families, students and faculty members who are rightfully so concerned about what our schools will look like," said Hite, noting that safety could be compromised for students.

School District and Council still apart on more money
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, May 22, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 8:32 PM
After three tense hours of questioning by City Council on Wednesday, the Philadelphia School District seemed no closer to getting the $216 million - or more - it needs to open schools in the fall just maintaining this year's abysmal status quo.  Without the cash, the district would have to lay off more than 1,000 employees, mostly teachers, and increase some class sizes to 40 or more.

Blogger's note: Here's a bit more background on the founder of the Chester Community Charter School:
Alums thank Chester charter founders for scholarships
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, May 22, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:04 PM
About 70 former students of Chester Community Charter School returned to say thank-you to founders Vahan and Danielle Gureghian for providing scholarships for them to attend private and parochial high schools.  "You've given me an amazing opportunity," said a tearful Mika Reed, 21, a senior psychology major at Neumann University, who had attended Cardinal O'Hara High School.  The day she graduated from sixth grade, she said, her father was incarcerated, and "I thought my life was over. Without this school sending me to Cardinal O'Hara, I don't know where I'd be."  The largest charter in hard-luck Chester, the kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school has faced state scrutiny for testing irregularities and low test scores. In August, the state auditor general said it had received more than $1.2 million in improper lease reimbursements over three years. The school has disputed the findings.

"Last week, 66 percent of the teachers union voted to accept the two-year salary freeze that saved 72.6 positions from being eliminated. The district will lose 29 positions next year, but 24 will be through retirements and five from resignations."
Easton Area School District to raise taxes by 4 percent
Average property owner in school district to pay about $130 more.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 10:35 p.m. EDT, May 21, 2014
The Easton Area School District won't lay off any teachers or cut any programs for the next two years, but that news will come at a cost for taxpayers.  The school board voted 8-1 Wednesday to accept a proposal that the teachers union accepted last week. Teachers will take a two-year salary freeze, and taxpayers will see a 4 percent property tax hike in 2014-15 to curb the district's $5 million deficit.
Voters in the State College Area School District overwhelmingly supported a massive renovation and expansion project at State High. This is only the second approved referendum in PA since Act 1 was passed
VOTER APPROVED: State High Renovation Project Wins Overwhelming Support by Jennifer Miller on May 20, 2014 10:56 PM UPDATED at 12:04 a.m. Wednesday
No one was sure quite what to expect when voters went to the polls in Tuesday's primary election.  But it wasn't even close.  Voters in the State College Area School District overwhelmingly supported a massive renovation and expansion project at State High.
With all 90 precincts reporting, including in State College Borough, Harris Township, Ferguson Township, Patton Township, Halfmoon Township and a portion of Benner Township, voters supported the ballot referendum by nearly a three to one margin. The measure received 11,121 yes votes with only 3,975 no votes. That equates to roughly 73 percent of 15,096 votes cast in support of the referendum.  Superintendent Bob O'Donnell says the results indicate voters support the district's years long process which included significant outreach to the community before developing a plan to pursue.

“These figures back up what we have been saying all along,” Dinniman said. “In imposing these exams on local schools, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission completely ignored the substantial cost burden they are putting on the backs of our local school districts, costs that would surely be passed on to taxpayers in the form of significant property tax hikes.”….“Multiply that by the 500 school districts across the Commonwealth for an idea of how massive this unfunded mandate would have been had we not succeeded in limiting the Keystones to three tests,” Dinniman said.
Limits on Keystone exams will save money - Dinniman
West Chester Daily Local By Staff Report POSTED: 05/04/14, 4:21 PM EDT
WEST CHESTER — State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman praised the efforts to limit the Keystone Graduation Exams to the three required by the federal government, which he said will save Chester County schools millions in taxpayer dollars.  Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, co-chairman of the Education Committee, supported the fight to limit the Keystone Graduation Exams. He said that preliminary estimates from five of Chester County’s 12 school districts, including Downingtown, Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford, Tredyffrin-Easttown and West Chester, indicate that adding two more tests would have a total cost more than $1 million.
District officials recently provided Dinniman with approximate figures showing how much their respective schools would have spent on staffing, textbooks and materials and curriculum restructuring in preparation for the two additional tests.

“Strong local governance matters. It cannot and should not be excluded from education reform initiatives. To give America’s schoolchildren strong accountability centered on student outcomes, the National School Boards Association calls for local school boards to serve as the sole authorizers of charter schools.”
Gentzel calls for school board oversight of charters in USA Today letter
NSBA School Board News Today Joetta Sack-Min May 21st, 2014
Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) said that federal legislation on charter school law should recognize the need for accountability for student performance in charters, given the low performance of the majority of charter schools. His letter to the editor was published in the May 21, 2014 issue of USA Today.  Gentzel wrote, “In 2013, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed that only 25% and 29% of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading and math assessments, respectively. These low percentages were actually an improvement over the 2009 data. CREDO attributed many of the improvements to the actions that authorizers — key among these local school boards — are taking to close down ineffective charter schools.

 “How Public School Funding Works in Pennsylvania—Or Doesn’t: What You Need to Know” When: Friday, May 30, 2014, 9 am to 12 pm Where: Marriott Hotel in Conshohocken, PA
Session I:  "Funding Schools: What Pennsylvania Can Learn from Other States"

Key Pennsylvania legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Professor Robert C. Knoeppel of Clemson University, an expert on emerging trends and ideas in public school finance.
Introduction: Representative Steve Santarsiero
Moderator: Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Charles Zogby, Secretary of the Budget, Commonwealth of PA, Senator Patrick Browne, Senator Anthony Williams, Representative Bernie O'Neill, Representative James Roebuck
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
A discussion with a panel of CEOs who are major employers in the region.
Introduction: Rob Loughery, Chair, Bucks County Commissioners
Panel (confirmed to date):
Michael Pearson, President and CEO, Union Packaging, Philip Rinaldi, CEO, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Bryan Hancock, Principal, McKinsey & Company, and author: "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools"
You can register for this free event here:

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (8:30 Registration)
Keynote Speaker: Dan Hardy – Retired Reporter -Philadelphia Inquirer
Distressed Schools: How Did it Come to This?
  • The State of Education in Pennsylvania 60 Years after Brown
  • Keystones and Graduation: Cut the Connection
  • How Harrisburg Cut District Funding, Poured on the Keystones, and Connected them to Graduation
  • Financing Our Schools: What Does it Cost to Educate a Child in 2014 and How Should We Fund It?
  • Effective Advocacy – How to be Heard in Harrisburg - And - What We Need to be Saying
For more info and registration:

Education Policy and Leadership Center
Click here to read more about EPLC’s Education Policy Fellowship Program, including: 2014-15 Schedule 2014-15 Application Past Speakers Program Alumni And More Information

PCCY invites you to get on the School Spirit Bus to Harrisburg on Tuesday June 10th for Fair and Full School Funding!
Public Citizens for Children and Youth
On Tuesday June 10th, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be going to Harrisburg.  Join committed parents, leaders, and community members from around state to make it clear to Harrisburg that PA students need fair and full funding now!  We are providing free transportation to and from Harrisburg as well as lunch.   Please arrive at the United Way Building located at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway no later than8:15am.  The bus will depart at 8:30am sharp! Reserve your seat today by emailing us at or calling us at 215-563-5848 x11. You can download and share our flyer by clicking here. We hope to see you there!

Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
Welcome By Governor Tom Corbett (invited)
Remarks Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq (confirmed)
Perceptions & comments of business leaders, educators, college presidents, and advocacy groups

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

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