Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 25: PSERS:"And the increases just keep coming: Lancaster will owe $8,453,583 starting in July, about two million dollars higher than this year's bill."

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 25, 2014:
PSERS:"And the increases just keep coming: Lancaster will owe $8,453,583 starting in July, about two million dollars higher than this year's bill."

"The biggest change is in education funding, which receives less than one third of the non-pension related increase proposed by Governor Corbett in February:
·         $251 million in proposed new education funding through the Ready to Learn Block grant and Hybrid learning (computer/classroom education) was eliminated.
·         $70 million was added to the basic education line and $10 million of additional funding for school construction (PlanCon) was also added. Total basic education is proposed at $5.596 billion.
·         $20 million in new special education funding was preserved, bringing that appropriation to $1.047 billion.
·         The Governor’s proposed $10 million increase to Pre-K Counts is reduced to $8.7 million, a $1.3 million reduction.
·         Head Start Supplemental Assistance is funded as earlier proposed.
·         Family literacy programs get a modest increase from the Governor’s budget and Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants are restored for $3 million."
House Budget Update 1
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on June 24, 2014
The General Assembly finally began work on the budget this week. The budget bill, HB 2328 (PN 3836) came out of the appropriations committee on Tuesday, and is positioned for a vote on the floor. An amendment to HB 2188 that would suspend most state tax credit programs for two years passed the House, but just barely, on Monday night.  With these actions we get a better sense of the spending plan and the strategy. Still there is a great deal that we don’t know, as House leaders didn’t tip their hand on the revenue plan that is necessary to support the budget at this reduced spending level. We provide updates as more information comes in, on our website, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s what we do know:

Adolph, GOP back no-tax-hike $29B budget plan in House panel vote
Delco Times By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press POSTED: 06/24/14, 3:21 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans on the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a spending blueprint that would hold the line on taxes, but would scale back increases for education and human services proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett while relying heavily on the unlikely sell-off of the state’s wine and liquor operations.  The next stop for the $29.1 billion budget plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 is the floor of the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives, even though changes loom in the Senate.  The 21-14 party-line vote culminated more than two hours of partisan debate over the proposal, which relies partly on a plan to privatize the state liquor stores whose passage is far from assured, in the final week of a tumultuous fiscal year.

"The budget proposal was approved by the House Appropriations Committee earlier today.  The proposal includes a $323 million increase to K-12 education, including an additional $70 million more for basic education and another $20 million for special education. It also allocates an extra $8.7 to the Pre-K Counts program, which will serve another 1,453 children."
Adolph unveils amended GOP budget proposal
Keystone Kopp Blog by John Kopp June 24, 2014
State Rep. William Adolph, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, unveiled an amended budget proposal today in Harrisburg.  The $29.1 billion spending plan, proposed as an amendment to House Bill 2328, includes a 1.9 percent spending increase from last year’s budget. It assumes 3.2 percent revenue growth – the same growth as projected by the Independent Fiscal Office, said Adolph, R-165, of Springfield.
The budget will be balanced using a “series of transfers, lapses and other revenue options,” Adolph said when he unveiled the plan.

"Public schools would see an extra $100 million, including $70 million for instruction and operations, $20 million for special education and $10 million for school construction projects.  But the new, $340 million "Ready to Learn" block grant program proposed by Corbett in his February budget plan was jettisoned."
Pa. House Republicans propose leaner budget than Gov. Tom Corbett's
By Charles Thompson | on June 24, 2014 at 10:27 PM, updated June 25, 2014 at 2:01 AM
The House Republican majority has laid its cards on the table in Pennsylvania's budget debate.
And their opening bid is a $29.1 billion budget that pares some of the proposed spending boost for public schools proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett in favor of keeping the state on track with its scheduled pension system payments.  For a line-by-line summary of the House Republican's plan, click here.  It is a starting point, Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County, said as the plan cruised through a party-line committee vote Tuesday, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.  One item that is almost sure to change in negotiations with state Senate leaders over the next few days is the plan's dependence on $380 million in projected revenue from a privatization of the state-owned liquor stores.

Pa. panel OKs $29.1B budget plan assuming $380 million revenue from privatization of liquor stores
The Tribune-Review By The Associated Press Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 7:39 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Republicans on the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a spending blueprint that would hold the line on taxes but would scale back increases for education and human services proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett while relying heavily on the unlikely sell-off of the state's wine and liquor operations.  The next stop for the $29.1 billion budget plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 is the floor of the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives.  The 21-14 party-line vote culminated more than two hours of partisan debate over the proposal — which relies partly on a plan to privatize the state liquor stores whose passage is far from assured — in the final week of a tumultuous fiscal year.
"So, it was with a characteristic grin that Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph said Tuesday that the proposal does not reflect an agreement between the House and Senate.  "The Senate can always amend this bill if they have the revenue sources other than this," he said.  Some are expecting heavy revisions from the Senate – such as a tax on the extraction of natural gas or other levies."
Pa. budget takes one step forward
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JUNE 24, 2014
With about a week left before Pennsylvania's budget deadline, House lawmakers have advanced an actual spending plan.  A key panel has voted to send a proposal to the full chamber, but it's likely to undergo some big changes before heading to the governor.  One of the big eyebrow-raisers in the proposed $29.1 billion spending plan is an assumption that the state will start making millions of dollars by phasing out its state liquor stores.

Debate continues as Pa. budget deadline nears
AMY WORDEN, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Monday, June 23, 2014, 6:58 PM
HARRISBURG - Debate began Monday in the state House on a general appropriations bill that will take shape in the coming days as the 2014-15 state budget, signaling the start of the final stage of the budget process a week before deadline.  But the legislation, described as a "vehicle," contains no specific line items or revenue sources to close a budget deficit estimated at roughly $1.5 billion.  Gov. Corbett has said he is willing to push the budget settlement beyond the end of the fiscal year on June 30 to win passage of two key priorities: pension reform and liquor privatization.  On Monday his budget secretary, Charles Zogby, echoed the governor's position, saying the state's $560 million pension obligation in the coming year is evidence that the system needs to be fixed.

PSERS:"And the increases just keep coming: Lancaster will owe $8,453,583 starting in July, about two million dollars higher than this year's bill."
Pension costs skyrocket in school districts
WITF Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 24, 2014 4:10 AM
Whether the district is Lampeter Strasburg or Lancaster or York Suburban, required contributions to the Public School Employees' Retirement System have skyrocketed, and are still climbing.
In 2009-2010, Camp Hill in Cumberland County put about $183,043 into what's known as PSERS.  In the fiscal year ending this month, it's up to $748,049, an increase of about 300 percent.

High Quality Pre-K: A Wise Investment
World Class Philadelphia June 23, 2014
Contributing writer John Miller explores why both local and national business leaders support investing in high-quality early learning. This is the final installment in a two-part series focused on early childhood education (for part one, click here).
As the Roaring Twenties careened to a close, a small group of Philadelphia businessmen launched the Industrial and Power Securities Company, a mutual fund with a conservative investment philosophy. It may have been the worst possible moment in history to launch an investment vehicle; just a few months later, the stock market would crash, plunging America into the Great Depression.  But, sometimes being bold is what’s needed to survive impending ruin. The concept behind the new fund turned out to be a smart philosophy at a trying time.
That small fund grew and grew, eventually becoming the international investment giant Vanguard. Today, Vanguard is a vital driver of the regional economy – a global company headquartered in Valley Forge, with more than 14,000 employees around the world, 10,000 of them in Greater Philadelphia.

"These are not just budget cuts. This is not about belt-tightening. The unjust funding of Philadelphia’s public schools is the moral calling of our time."
On brink of further collapse, Philadelphia schools rescued (again)
MSNBC By Trymaine Lee 06/20/14 02:05 PM—UPDATED 06/20/14 04:48 PM
The beleaguered Philadelphia School District, which has hobbled on the brink of collapse all school year, staved off another round of draconian cuts with a last minute reprieve by the City Council.  The council on Thursday, during its final meeting of the year, agreed to borrow $30 million to help patch the district’s woefully-wide funding gap. The 11th-hour nod came on the heels of pleadings by the school district, rancorous debate among council members and student-led protests at City Hall.  The $30 million agreement will go toward chipping away at the district’s $216 million deficit. The latest funding is likely a Band-Aid. The district has said it needs upward of $320 million to buoy a district in such bad financial shape that Mayor Michael Nutter has had to make public pleas for school supplies and where most public school students don’t have access to full-time nurses or libraries.

Chester Upland residents facing 3.4 percent tax hike
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 06/24/14, 10:44 PM
Chester Upland School District Receiver speaks during Tuesday’s press conference inside the Chester-Upland School District Administration building. (Times staff / ERIC HARTLINE) 
CHESTER — Chester Upland School District Receiver Joe Watkins approved a preliminary budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year that calls for more than $123 million in spending and a 3.4 percent tax increase.  “Our fiscal challenges continue,” said Chief Financial Officer George Crawford at the receiver’s meeting on May 29, where the $123,211,860 spending plan was announced.

"The framers of Pennsylvania's constitution directed the Legislature to meet society's needs with "a thorough and efficient" education system. It's a straightforward mandate that policymakers have shirked.Columbia isn't the only school district struggling, but among Lancaster County's 16 districts, it faces the most dire challenges"
Coming this week: A special report on Columbia's public schools
Lancaster Online By JEFF HAWKES | Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:30 pm |Updated: 12:46 pm, Tue Jun 24, 2014.
Columbia's public schools will reopen in late August, reverberating again with the clamor of children.  But overshadowing the back-to-school routine will be difficult questions.  Columbia is a tiny, high-poverty school district struggling to prepare kids for our fast-changing, technology-driven world.  The single-municipality district has the weakest tax base in Lancaster County and the second-highest proportion of needy children. Its taxes are the county's highest and salaries the lowest. It has too many dropouts. Test scores are abysmal.

Final Parkland School District budget lowers tax hike
By Margie Peterson, Special to The Morning Call June 25, 2014
The assessed value of Parkland School District's tax base grew by a whopping $204.2 million over the past year, enabling the district to lower the tax hike in its final 2014-15 budget to 1.88 percent.  In May, the district was looking at a tax increase of 2.1 percent, the most allowed under the state's Act 1 index without special exceptions.  But that 2.76 percent growth in the district's total real estate assessment to $7.6 billion gave Parkland a leg up as it faces the same large cost increases other area districts face, such as state-mandated contributions for staff pensions and health care coverage.  "We had an extremely nice increase in our assessed valuation in the last year," Director of Business Administration John Vignone told the school board Tuesday. That higher assessed valuation means that each mill brings in more tax dollars than last year.
Saucon Valley School Board passes sixth no-tax-increase budget
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on June 24, 2014 at 9:26 PM, updated June 24, 2014 at 9:27 PM
Saucon Valley School District taxpayers won't see a change in their school property tax bills for the sixth year in a row. The school board unanimously approved the $41.5 million spending plan, which does not increase taxes. The district plans to use about $87,000 from its $13 million savings account to balance the budget.   Earlier this spring, several school board members acknowledged they were putting off inevitable tax increases down the line after reviewing a bleak five-year financial projection.

Saucon Valley school director calls textbook's global warming chapter 'propaganda'
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on June 24, 2014 at 8:58 PM
Calling an environmental science textbook's global warming chapter propaganda,Saucon Valley School Director Bryan Eichfeld pushed the board tonight to supplement the book with "true science."  "Your science," Director Sandra Miller replied.  Eichfeld's motion failed to garner any support tonight from his fellow directors, who objected to interfering in curriculum decisions.  Eichfeld broached the topic tonight because the board was voting to approve an honors environmental science book titled "Environmental Science," which is published by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt. The board approved the book with only Eichfeld objecting.

Pediatric group promotes reading aloud to children
By Campbell North / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 24, 2014 11:19 PM
Although it has been standard for years in some families for parents to read aloud to their children from birth, not all families do it, so the American Academy of Pediatrics for the first time Tuesday recommended early literacy education.  “The importance and value of reading is something we have known for a long time,” said Diego Chaves-Gnecco, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “The issue is that there are disparities among families, whether due to a lack of resources or just being unaware of the importance of reading, and our role now as pediatricians is to emphasize how vital reading is to the development of every child.”
On average, 48 percent of parents nationwide reported reading to their children every day, according to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health. Among families living below the poverty line, only 34 percent read to their children daily. Higher-income families, who earned at least 400 percent of the federal poverty threshold, did somewhat better: Sixty percent read daily to their youngsters.

Obama alums join anti teachers union case
Politico Pro By STEPHANIE SIMON | 6/24/14 1:32 PM EDT Updated: 6/24/14 8:14 PM EDT
Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.  The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead in the public relations initiative.  The involvement of such high-profile Obama alumni highlights the sharp schism within the Democratic Party over education reform.

School boards call for more sensible school nutrition rules
NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min|June 24th, 2014
NSBA is calling on Congress and USDA to allow schools flexibility to meet new mandates
As school districts are bearing higher costs and more rigid requirements for school meals, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow schools flexibility to meet new mandates.
New regulations for the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act that take effect July 1, 2014 will further restrict school districts’ abilities to offer a variety of palatable foods for their students. In a press teleconference yesterday, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel noted that the layers of new federal regulations were hampering the goals of the federal school nutrition programs.

Weapons of Mass Instruction
Wag the Dog Blog Posted on June 24, 2014
One of the underlying premises of the Common Core is that students who cannot independently read and write on an advanced college level are destined to be unsuccessful in life.  Do proponents of CCSS really believe that the 15 to 20% (NICHD) of our population with language-based disabilities are doomed to failure in life?  Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Erin Brockovich, Pablo Picasso, Magic Johnson, Anderson Cooper, Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Steve Jobs and other dyslexics were fortunate CCSS wasn’t around when they were in school as they might still be serving time in AIS class trying to pass a tier two vocabulary word quiz rather than testing a new theory, creating a new work of art, or discovering new principles that actually generated brand new vocabulary words.
These individuals and many others like them did not allow limited reading and literacy skills or a low score on a standardized test to define them and curtail their goals and achievements in life.

Join the Notebook! Become a Member!
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Come to Harrisburg to Speak Up for Public Education 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.

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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