Sunday, June 29, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 29, 2014: Schools to lose in House Budget Proposal

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 29, 2014:
Schools to lose in House Budget Proposal

The Senate Education Committee is slated to meet off the floor today (Sunday)  to consider HB618, Charter School Reform
The House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Note summarizes the provisions in this bill

PA lawmakers told to be prepared to vote on budget
Liquor, pension changes apparently off the table but $380M hole remains as Monday deadline looms.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 9:20 p.m. EDT, June 28, 2014
Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett gave lawmakers an ultimatum: change liquor and pension systems or he won't sign a budget that includes tax increases by the June 30 deadline.
With that deadline at 11:59 p.m. Monday, lawmakers are wrapping up a budget proposal that does not include tax increases on tobacco products and natural gas drillers in the hopes that Corbett will sign it on time or at least some time before the July 4 holiday weekend.
On Saturday, Senate Republican leaders sent the administration a budget proposal that is expected to be higher than the $29.1 billion spending plan the GOP-controlled House approved last week but lower than the $29.4 billion Corbett suggested in February.
"We are trying to put together a $29-plus billion budget that doesn't have any revenue increases," Budget Secretary Charles B. Zogby said.
Saturday was a non-voting session for the House and Senate. But lawmakers have been told by their respective caucus leaders to be prepared to vote on a budget sometime Sunday evening or Monday.
Lehigh Valley schools to lose in House budget proposal
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on June 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM
The Lehigh Valley's three largest school districts are set to lose almost $5 million combined if the state budget passed by the House of Representatives stays intact.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed -- in a 110-93 vote -- a budget that replaces the block grant program with a $70 million basic education increase. The House plan includes a flat 2 percent special education funding hike, eschewing a new formula devised by the special education funding commission.  Lehigh Valley legislators in the House voted along party lines with Republicans supporting the plan.

Get ready for the big 'gimmick' state budget
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Call it "the big gimmick."
An approximately $29 billion state government operating budget under negotiation in the Legislature is likely to be based on a fast-growing amount of one-time cash items to avoid the prospect of a tax increase that would split the House's and Senate's Republican majorities.
The one-time items — derided by critics as gimmicks — include raiding off-budget programs, postponing bills and cleaning out reserves.
And this year, with a massive and unexpected collapse in tax collections, Republicans have shied away from putting off business tax cuts or increasing taxes on the booming natural gas industry or sales of tobacco products advocated by Democrats. Instead, they have looked to push one-timers past $2 billion.  That is the highest they have ever been, not counting the $6.9 billion in federal recession bailout dollars that came to Pennsylvania from 2009 to 2011.
"This will be precedent-setting in one-time revenues," said Randy Albright, the Democrats' top staff aide on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Some Republicans acknowledge that the trend toward a tax increase is inevitable.

On-time budget for Pennsylvania? Most wouldn't notice a short delay
By Charles Thompson | 
on June 28, 2014 at 4:36 PM, updated June 28, 2014 at 7:12 PM
So who gets hurt if there is not a state budget signed, sealed and delivered by July 1, the start of Pennsylvania's new fiscal year?  Most likely, no one if the delay is short.
Court rulings in recent years have largely taken the threat of payless paydays for state employees – one of former Gov. Ed Rendell's ploys during an extended stalemate in 2009 - off the table.

Corbett may be resigned to getting just a budget, without his wish list: Pennsylvania budget update
By Jan Murphy | 
on June 28, 2014 at 9:39 PM, updated June 28, 2014 at 11:43 PM
As the clock for getting an on-time budget gets closer to running out of time, people around the Capitol began to suggest on Saturday that Gov. Tom Corbett has resigned himself to just getting a budget done without it having pension reform or liquor privatization in tow.
When asked about the governor's level of enthusiasm for accepting a budget-only scenario, his communications director Lynn Lawson offered no direct response.
Instead, she said, "The governor is working toward what is in the best interests of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. The budget meetings and negotiations are ongoing and details are changing frequently so it is premature to comment on a particular proposal."

Midnight oil being burned in two state Capitols this weekend to get a budget done on time

By Jan Murphy | 
on June 28, 2014 at 7:26 PM, updated June 28, 2014 at 8:20 PM

What do Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have in common besides both being commonwealths?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures'website, both happen to be the only legislatures burning the midnight oil trying to finalize a budget before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Protesters forgo day at an amusement park to send message to Corbett, lawmakers: Fund our schools
By Jan Murphy | 
on June 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM, updated June 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Had it not been for the dire straits in which the state budget proposals being bandied about inside the state Capitol would leave their schools, these Philadelphia parents say they would have spent this sunny June day at an amusement park or Franklin Institute or taking the kids to church choir practice.  Instead, they found themselves crammed under a pop-up canopy at the bottom of the Capitol steps, shaded by spray-painted bed sheets that carried two simple messages: "Fund Our Schools" and "Expand Medicaid."
The dozen or so people hanging out there were all from Philadelphia, but they said they speak for all children who will be hurt by a no-new tax budget that legislative leaders directed their staffs to spend today inside the Capitol developing.

This letter was sent to all state legislators in the 5-county region and to press representatives yesterday.  150 signers from 27 colleges/universities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.
An Open Letter to Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Higher Education United for Public Education June 27, 2014
As college and university educators from the greater Philadelphia region, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, we would like to offer our perspective on Pennsylvania’s current approach to funding public education for grades K-12.  We believe that this approach is undermining not only students’ primary and secondary school experiences, but their post-secondary educational options as well.
From the perspective of access to higher education, this disinvestment can mean Pennsylvania students are (1) less prepared than their peers from other states who have had access to a well-rounded curriculum, including honors, IB, and AP courses, (2) less able to compete for academic or athletic scholarship funding when their schools are unable to offer PSATs or sports programs, (3) less likely to apply to college due to the absence of adequate counseling on the high-school level, and (4) less able to manage the academic demands of college without remedial coursework.

Enough Is Enough: Pennsylvania Must Contribute Its Fair Share to Fund Our Schools
Huffington Post by Brian SIms, Pennsylvania State Representative in Philadelphia's 182nd District Posted: 06/27/2014 2:21 pm EDT Updated: 06/27/2014 2:59 pm EDT
Over the past year and a half, I have walked the halls of Philadelphia schools and spoken with students of all ages. I have met with parents in community centers, cafeterias, and gymnasiums to hear their worries and frustrations. I have heard from teachers, who day in and day out go to work unsure if they will have enough paper for their students or worried a child will have a medical emergency on a day there is no school nurse available. For the last several years, we have found ourselves facing an unacceptable lack of state funding for schools. This year we are once again facing the Commonwealth's dereliction of duty in properly funding our public schools.
I'm proud to say that the City of Philadelphia has done its part. Despite fiscal problems of its own, City Council has delivered an additional $30 million to help narrow the gap in education funding. Philadelphia has also asked for enabling legislation to impose a $2 per pack tax on cigarette sales within the city limits. This initiative is estimated to generate nearly $45 million for the school district, which would significantly aid in closing the district's $216 million deficit resulting from Governor Corbett's over $1 billion in devastating education funding cuts.

Playing Politics With Education
Did the governors of Michigan and Pennsylvania cut education funding or increase it? Posted on June 27, 2014
Claims from gubernatorial candidates and their opponents about education funding in Michigan and Pennsylvania couldn’t appear to be more conflicting.
§  In Michigan, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer talks about reversing Gov. Rick Snyder’s “billion dollars in education cuts.” Snyder’s campaign adviser, meanwhile, claims “Governor Snyder increased school funding by $1 billion.”
§  In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett’s wife, Sue, is featured in an ad saying that Corbett “increased spending in the education department $1.5 billion over what it was when he came into office.” But according to the website of Corbett’s Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, Corbett “cut state education funding by more than $1 billion.”
What gives? The disparate claims in both states have similar roots.

Deal seen near on Penna. budget

POSTED: Sunday, June 29, 2014, 1:09 AM
HARRISBURG - For years, the GOP-led legislature has resisted imposing a tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, arguing it would create a burden on a fledgling industry.
But with gas production booming, tax supporters have countered that Pennsylvania should capitalize on hundreds of millions in potential revenue - money that could have helped fuel the state's economic recovery.  Aft ion budget shortfall, legislators left Friday confident that next year's spending plan won't rely on new er weeks of rumblings that a natural gas tax might be needed to close the state's nearly $1.5 bill taxes. They didn't say how they would balance the budget, but they return to session Sunday evening, with an eye toward reaching a deal by Monday night.

Analysis: How Do House Budget Cuts Affect Your School District?
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on June 27, 2014
The Impact of the House Budget on Funding for School Districts and Charter Schools
The budget approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 25 made significant changes to the Governor’s proposed allocations to school districts and charter schools.
The House budget eliminates a $241 million increase to school districts and charter schools offered in the Governor’s Ready to Learn Block Grant, replacing it with a $70 million basis education increase, which is a 71% reduction from the Governor’s original proposed increase.
The House kept a 2% increase in special education funding, allocated through a flat 2% increase to each district – rather than using the formula devised by the Special Education Funding Commission to focus assistance where it is most needed, and added $10 million to fund new school construction projects, although the distribution of those funds is not known.

Failing in slow motion: A community's helping hands
Lancaster Online By JEFF HAWKES | Staff Writer Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 7:30 am
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series examining the financial sustainability of the Columbia Borough School District and the impact of its struggling schools on the students, teachers, residents and businesses of the proud river town. A six-page special section is in today’s Sunday News.  
Presiding at school board meetings, Tom Strickler would look out at a sea of empty seats for the public and wonder how to engage the community.  People complained about taxes but few saw how the board minimized increases.  After one difficult vote to eliminate aides, Strickler visited kindergarten classes, saw the demands wall-to-wall 5-year-olds placed on a teacher and knew what to do.

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The Notebook invites all of our readers to join us now, as members by signing up on our "Donate" page. Our reporting depends on the continued generous support and contributions from our growing Notebook membership. In 2013, we reached more than 500 memberships!  Thanks to all of our supporters.  Don't forget to renew or join for this calendar year. Help us reach 600+ members in 2014!  We're excited about this program as a way to recognize your support, give you some extra perks, and support our work and sustainability.  Learn more about our work here.
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Pre-K for PA has supporters all over the greater Philadelphia region who want to help ensure all three and four year-old children can access quality pre-K.
We need your help -- join an upcoming phone bank. Join a fun gathering of like minds in Philadelphia and Conshohocken on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. We are calling fellow Pre-K for PA supporters to build local volunteer teams.
Call a Pre-K Friend in Philly:
United Way Building, 6th Floor 1709 Ben Franklin Parkway 19107 
Wed July 9, 5-7 PM
Wed July 30, 5-7 PM
Call a Pre-K Friend in Mont Co:
Anne's House 242 Barren Hill Road Conshohocken PA 19428
Wed July 16, 5-7pm
Wed July 30, 5-7pm

EPLC Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters - Harrisburg July 31
Register Now!  EPLC will again be hosting an Education Issues Workshop for Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff, and Interested Voters. This nonpartisan, one-day program will take place on Thursday, July 31 in Harrisburg. Space is limited. Click here to learn more about workshop and to register. 

PSBA opens nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
The nomination process is now open for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award. This 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.  Applications will be accepted until July 16, 2014. The July 16 date was picked in honor of  Timothy M. Allwein's birthday. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. More details and application are available on PSBA's website. 

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

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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