Friday, June 13, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 13: Corbett signs legislation creating panel to develop new school funding formula

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 13, 2014:
Corbett signs legislation creating panel to develop new school funding formula

Corbett signs legislation creating panel to develop new school funding formula
By Gideon Bradshaw |  on June 12, 2014 at 6:43 PM
Pennsylvania is gearing up to overhaul its education spending under a measure Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law on Tuesday.   The Basic Education Funding Commission will study a new way for distributing new state funding to school districts. It is expected to come up with a recommendation next year.    Rep. Bernie O'Neill, R-Bucks, pushed for making changes in the way the state allocates money for education, arguing the current formula is obsolete. At present, Pennsylvania divvies up state funding to school districts in proportions that have remained remained fixed in recent years, regardless of demographic changes.  "Many of our public schools are underfunded, many are overfunded – it's time we establish a more equitable way of driving our state dollars to the institutions responsible for preparing our young people for the future that awaits them," O'Neill said in a prepared statement.

Legislature to Reform Basic Educating Funding Formula, O’Neill Says
PA House GOP Caucus website 6/12/2014
HARRISBURG – In a bipartisan effort to ensure a quality educational experience for Pennsylvania students, legislation prompting an examination of the state’s K-12 education funding method was signed into law, said Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks), author of the measure.
Act 51 of 2014 establishes a bipartisan commission to study and make recommendations for a new statewide formula for dispensing funding to Pennsylvania public schools, operating in a similar manner to the Special Education Funding Commission established last year.
“We applied some of the ideas we found to be very successful in the past to the new commission, this time with a broader aim,” O’Neill said. “Many of our public schools are underfunded, many are overfunded – it’s time we establish a more equitable way of driving out state dollars to the institutions responsible for preparing our young people for the future that awaits them.”
The Basic Education Funding Commission will be comprised of equal representation from the House and Senate majority and minority caucuses, along with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the governor’s administration. Commission members would be tasked with developing a formula that takes into account each school district’s market value/personal income aid ratio, equalized millage rate, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support and other factors. 

Lawmakers must enact a fair special education funding formula: Susan Gobreski and Susan Spicka
PennLive Op-Ed  By Susan Gobreski and Susan Spicka on June 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM
This year, something extraordinary happened in the polarized Capitol in Harrisburg. Legislators put aside their partisan differences and came together in a bipartisan Special Education Funding Commission, which worked to address the problems in the way that Pennsylvania funds special education services.  They came together to do what is right for children who need special education services, to try to fix the law.  The current system is woefully underfunded and tax dollars are not sent to school districts or charter schools based on the actual costs of the services students receive.  After months of working with families of children with special needs and other stakeholders, the Commission created a thoroughly-planned, fair, and new system that would allocate state tax dollars to ALL public schools in Pennsylvania the same way, based on students' needs.  Unfortunately, all of the Commission's hard work may be derailed and this common sense legislation, which is known as the "special education funding and accountability reform bill" might be left on the side of the road.

Pennsylvania likely to pivot on shale tax, insiders say
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review By Brad Bumsted Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Updated 5 hours ago
HARRISBURG — Facing a $1.5 billion state deficit, lawmakers are taking another look at taxing natural gas extraction despite Gov. Tom Corbett's opposition.  “There are more and more people beginning to talk about Marcellus shale taxation,” said Sen. Edwin Erickson, R-Delaware County, sponsor of legislation for a 4 percent severance tax.  “I think there's a good chance something will go through,” said Jeffrey Weber, chairman of the political science department at East Stroudsburg University.  It's “bipartisan, bicameral support,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.
Pittsburgh teachers fare well in new rating system
By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 12, 2014 11:58 PM
The first official results of a new classroom teacher performance ratings system in Pittsburgh Public Schools found more teachers are considered distinguished and fewer are failing than in a dry run last year.  The ratings, given individually to teachers Thursday and released in aggregate today, show 96.9 percent of 1,721 teachers were rated distinguished or advanced.
There are 28 teachers — 1.6 percent — who are considered failing and were given unsatisfactory ratings. They will be given a chance to improve, including extra help. If they get another failing rating during the next school year, they will be fired.

Mayor calls Council action on school funding 'unfortunate,' would support more
Notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 12, 2014 05:26 PM
School District officials are still hopeful that City Council will borrow more money on their behalf than was approved by a Council committee on Wednesday, and they have Mayor Nutter on their side.   But these debates are still mainly about how to close a lingering gap in this year's budget, not the larger revenue shortfall the District is facing in the new fiscal year that is less than three weeks away.  In an interview with radio reporters, according to his spokesman Mark McDonald, Nutter called Council's decision to support a $27 million loan instead of the $55 million that District leaders requested "an unfortunate turn of events."

Kids vs. politics
Notebook By Helen Gym on Jun 12, 2014 04:16 PM
City Council yesterday proved once again that Philadelphia’s schoolchildren come second to politicking. Instead of following through on its promise to guarantee the District at least $50 million -- a promise it made last August, when Superintendent William Hite refused to open schools otherwise -- City Council’s finance committee moved forward with a bill to halve that amount to $27 million.  It seems inconceivable for Council to behave in this manner, especially at a time when District finances have never been more dire. If City Council doesn’t move on filling the basic budget gap, the District will be forced to pass an obscene budget that will lay off staff and see class sizes go through the roof. The PR damage and the loss of internal capacity at the District is not something that can be made up even if Council were to later piece together funds over the summer.

Corbett: Decoy, what decoy?
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch : THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 2014, 6:06 PM
So guess who I ran into last night? A few minutes before his first joint appearance with his newly minted fall rival Democrat Tom Wolf, here in Philly at the Crystal Tea Room, there was Gov. Corbett and, give him credit: Unlike, ahem, some governors who blow in and out of events at 110-mph, Pa's commander-in-chief was relaxed, not surrounded by security, and willing to chat with all comers.

Judge orders PA Cyber to comply with open records ruling
Beaver Times Online By J.D. Prose | 0 comments
Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:29 am | Updated: 12:27 am, Thu Jun 12, 2014.
MIDLAND — A Beaver County judge has ordered the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School to comply with a Right-to-Know request initially filed by The Times in January, but which the school has failed to fulfill even after it lost an appeal to the state’s Office of Open Records.

What's cookin' in the schools
Doylestown Intelligencer Editorial Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 12:15 am
The flap that’s developed over new school breakfast and lunch standards championed by first lady Michelle Obama is not about the need to get kids to eat better. There’s little dispute that the calorie-laden, sodium-rich and sugary foods traditionally offered in many if not most school cafeterias are not on anyone’s list of wholesome, nutritionally balanced meals. With childhood obesity the serious problem it is, and with too many young people developing poor eating habits that last a lifetime, Mrs. Obama has lobbied hard to make sure that at least the food served in school lunch lines contributes to students’ overall good health.  Congress and the administration have come up with school food guidelines that require more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on students’ trays, while placing limits on sodium, sugar and fat.
Too bad it’s not so easy to ensure a better diet for school kids.

Manheim Township school board approves new teacher contract
Lancaster Online By RYAN MELLON | Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:25 pm
After a two-year pay freeze, teachers in Manheim Township will receive a salary increase over the next three years.  School board members on Thursday voted unanimously, 8-0, with board member Ricky Wood absent, to approve the new three-year contract, which begins July 1.
The contract calls for a 2.95 percent salary increase for the 2014-15 school year, a 2.9 percent increase in 2015 and a 2.75 percent increase in 2016.

Downingtown schools adopt no-tax-increase budget
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 06/12/14, 7:34 PM EDT |
EAST CALN — The Downingtown Area School board on Wednesday adopted a $201.3 million budget for the 2014-15 school year that calls for no tax increases.  “I would like to thank the administration for working so hard to get the budget where it is,” said school board President Jane Bertone.  The board members agreed in April to not increase taxes for the second consecutive year, as presented by district administration.

Quakertown graduates question school board president's political speech during ceremony
They're miffed that school board president used ceremony to air his views on abortion, climate change.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 11:05 p.m. EDT, June 12, 2014
New graduates are questioning why the president of the Quakertown Community School Board used Wednesday's graduation ceremony as a political forum to air his views on topics such as climate change and abortion.  Graduates, fellow students and others at the ceremony said Paul Stepanoff questioned whether global warming is happening and complained that the eggs of sea turtles have more protection than human embryos. He also spoke about government intrusion.
The speech upset members of the Class of 2014, who felt their ceremony was not the time or place to bring up politics, and brought angry parents to the school board's meeting Thursday night.
Allentown teacher attrition to save some jobs, but budget concerns remain
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times  on June 12, 2014 at 10:02 PM
Even if the Allentown School Districteliminates all 74 teaching positions they are considering cutting, no more than 60 people would actually lose their jobs.  Superintendent Russell Mayo said tonight at least 14 teachers have said they will retire, meaning that number of positions will be eliminated through attrition rather than layoffs.  Unlike last year, the district no longer has a deadline for retirements to be submitted, so he expects more teacher retirements to be announced in upcoming weeks, which would save even more people’s jobs.

Gates Foundation Backs Two-Year Accountability Delay Under Common Core
Education Week State EdWatch Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 10, 2014 2:08 PM
UPDATED The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced its support for a two-year moratorium on tying results from assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards to teacher evaluations or student promotions to the next grade level.  The June 10 statement from Vicki Phillips, the Gates Foundation's director of college-ready programs, said that while the common core is having a very positive impact on education, that doesn't mean teachers and schools shouldn't be given more time to adjust.   Phillips stressed that the Gates Foundation has repeatedly heard that teachers are simultaneously enthusiastic about the common core but anxious about the challenges associated with the standards.

Congress: House Delays Vote on Easing School Meal Standards
WASHINGTON — A House vote on an Agriculture Department spending bill containing a provision that would allow schools to opt out of the Obama administration’s nutrition standards for school meals has been delayed until sometime next week, a senior Republican aide said Thursday.  The vote, which had been expected Thursday, was delayed as lawmakers redirected their attention to next week’s leadership elections, the aide said. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia announced Wednesday that he would resign as majority leader after his unexpected primary loss, prompting a scramble to replace him.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania, the NAACP and the Keystone State Education Coalition are sponsoring a public meeting with speakers from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center.
When:  Monday June 16th, 6-7 PM
Where: Delaware County Community College Southeast Center, Room 135
              2000 Elmwood Ave, Sharon Hill, PA 19079
Learn about how a statewide legal strategy could help students in William Penn, Southeast Delco and neighboring districts and how you might participate.  Legal experts and attorneys will be present to talk about the law, your children’s rights and a potential lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania based on the state Constitutional requirement to provide an education.

Come to Harrisburg to Speak Up for Public Education
Wednesday, June 18, Monday, June 23, and Monday, June 30
Education Voters PA
Governor Corbett’s “election-year” budget is falling apart. Revenue projections are down and Corbett and state legislators are looking to make more than $1.2 billion in cuts to his proposed 2014-2015 budget.  Lobbyists will be swarming the Capitol in the month of June and we need to be there, too.  Join Pennsylvanians from throughout the commonwealth as we send a loud and clear message that after three years of balancing the state budget on the backs of Pennsylvania’s public school children, it is time for our state government to do what is right and pass a fair budget that will provide students with the opportunities they need to meet state standards and be successful after they graduate.

PA Basic Ed. Funding Campaign: Building capacity to advocate for adequate, equitable school funding
PSBA website 6/10/2014
The Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Campaign seeks up to ten (10) regional "circuit riders" statewide to work with and support school system leaders to build capacity and advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system.
Regional Circuit Riders Contract Employment Announcement
The Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Campaign seeks up to ten (10) regional "circuit riders" statewide to work with and support school system leaders to build capacity and advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system. Circuit riders will support school system leaders by providing education and training about past and current school funding systems, principles and models of good school funding systems and effective advocacy strategies using information and materials provided by the Campaign. School system leaders include school directors, Intermediate Unit executive directors, district superintendents, business managers and other key school district leaders.  Building capacity among Pennsylvania school system leaders to advocate for an adequate and equitable school funding system is one component of a broader multi-year effort that involves more than 25 organizations across Pennsylvania. This component is a collaborative effort of the PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), PA School Boards Association (PSBA), PA Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) and PA Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU). PASBO serves as the fiscal agent for the collaborative.

Julian Vasquez Heilig  |  | 1 Comment
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Do you believe in public education? Do you want US policymakers to understand why decision makers in Chile have now judged vouchers to be problematic after 30 years of universal implementation? Do you have frequent flier miles you can donate? Sponsor a grad student today!  This summer, I along with eight UT-Austin graduate students will travel to Santiago, Chile in August 2014 with Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig to conduct field research that will result in a policy brief, op-eds and a peer-reviewed academic paper detailing recent changes in Chile’s market-based education policy proposed this past April by Chile’s current Education Minister Nicholas Eyzaguirre.

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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