Wednesday, July 2, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 2, 2014: Wm. Penn School Board Member in Harrisburg: “When I leave here this afternoon, I’ll have to go raise taxes.”

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 2, 2014:
Wm. Penn School Board Member in Harrisburg: “When I leave here this afternoon, I’ll have to go raise taxes.”

PA Budget: What's in it for Your School?
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on June 30, 2014
The Senate Appropriations Committee released this document showing each school district’s funding under the Ready to Learn Block Grant program.
·         $100 million would be distributed using the 2013-14 Accountability Block Grant formula.
·         $100 million in new funding will be allocated though a new Ready to Learn formula, which counts students and includes weights for poverty, aid ratio, and English language proficiency.
·         Every school district will receive an increase.
·         Charter schools receive a separate, direct allocation under this proposal.

2014-15 General Fund Budget by Department
PA Budget and Policy Center Posted by Michael Wood on June 30, 2014

145.4 KB

Fiscal Code: School Provisions
Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on June 30, 2014

67.91 KB

Pennsylvania’s Agora Cyber Charter, managed by K12, Inc. never made adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind
·         In 2006 its AYP status was Warning
·         In 2007 its AYP status was School Improvement 1
·         In 2008 its AYP status was School Improvement 2
·         In 2008 its AYP status was Corrective Action 1
·         In 2010 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (1st Year)
·         In 2011 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (2nd Year)
·         In 2012 its AYP status was Corrective Action 2 (3rd Year)
·         In 2013 Agora's School Performance Profile score was 48.3 on a 100 point scale; Acting Sec'y of Education Carolyn Dumaresq has indicated that a score of 70 is considered passing
In addition to never making AYP. Agora's 2012 graduation rate was 45% while the Philly SD graduation rate was 57%
School Choices: K12 Inc execs taking $2K per student in salary. 8 execs, 75K students, $21M in salaries. 20% of revenue in 8 pockets.
Morningstar Executive Compensation

Gov. Corbett remains stalwart on Pa. pension reform
By Tim Logue, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/02/14, 12:03 AM EDT |
In another year, Tom Corbett would have a hard time thumbing his pen at a no-tax budget that contained so much of what he wanted.  This year, however, with his prospects for reelection teetering somewhere between dismal and slim, the governor is looking for a little more.
“There’s no doubt he’s a big underdog, and there’s no doubt he needs a big game change and something to take to the voters in November,” said G. Terry Madonna, a state government expert and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. “He is substantially behind in the polls, and he needs a way to change the narrative.”
Before Republicans in the House and Senate pushed through a $29.1 billion budget bill Monday night, Corbett hinted — but never pledged or shouted from the steps of the Capitol — that he would reject any proposal that did not contain substantial pension reform.
So it came as something of a surprise late Monday night when Corbett decided, for the first time since taking office, to enter the month of July without a budget in place.

William Penn School Board members plead case for funding in Harrisburg before voting to increase taxes
By NICK TRICOME, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/02/14, 12:18 AM EDT 
HARRISBURG — William Penn School District board member Rafi Cave stood at the podium in the rotunda of the capitol building on Monday.  He had been asked to speak at a press conference for Public Citizens for Children and Youth on the day both the state and his school district had to pass their budgets.  Cave stood at the podium and said, “When I leave here this afternoon, I’ll have to go raise taxes.”
It was one “of like nine million things” he wanted to say about not only the problems William Penn School District is facing with their budget, but about education in general.
Although it was far from being a popular decision among residents living in the district, the William Penn School Board approved an $89.58 million budget on Monday night, implementing in a 3 percent property tax hike to help balance it.  The increase brings the school district’s tax rate to 42.29 mills. A homeowner with a property assessed at $100,000 can expect his tax bill to increase $123 annually.

Budget stalled, Senate goes home, House wrangles on pension changes
POSTED: Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 11:54 PM
HARRISBURG - The Senate went home. The governor was largely silent.
And as the first day of a new fiscal year without a state budget neared an end, House members met behind closed doors for hours on Tuesday, trying to find consensus on changes to the pension system - but refusing to move on a proposed a cigarette tax that could fund Philadelphia schools.  Almost a day after legislators handed him a $29.1 billion budget on time and with no tax increases, Gov. Corbett still had not signed it, or signaled if or when he would. His spokesman, Jay Pagni, said the governor was reviewing the plan.
Corbett's last public statement had been near midnight Monday, when the governor said he would not sign the budget without "meaningful" action aimed at reining in the cost of public employee pensions.  "Nothing has changed," Pagni said Tuesday evening.

House won't vote on cigarette tax to help Philly schools
ONCE AGAIN, Philadelphia's hopes for increased school funding from Harrisburg appear to be on hold.  A spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, said yesterday that there were no plans to vote on a bill passed by the Senate that includes the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which would generate much-needed revenue for the school district.
The omnibus bill was approved in the Senate early yesterday, 38-12.

Lawmakers plan to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at home, leaving pension issue unresolved
By Jan Murphy | on July 01, 2014 at 5:07 PM
Even though the 2014-15 general fund budget is still a signature away from being a done deal, state Senators are packing up today so they can be home to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.  The House is expected to follow suit today or tomorrow, as well, putting the onus on Gov. Tom Corbett to decide his next step.  Will he sign the $29.1 billion spending plan as is? Or force the lawmakers back to Harrisburg by using his line-item veto power to cut out the $280.4 million appropriation for the legislative branch or something else? Or call lawmakers back for a special session on pension reform?

Philadelphia's request for a school funding-cigarette tax adds to drama of finalizing Pa.'s state budget
By Jan Murphy |  on July 02, 2014 at 12:55 AM, updated July 02, 2014 at 6:15 AM
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's hope of getting a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to keep class sizes from rising to 41 and preventing 1,300 teacher layoffs in that city's schools still remains unfulfilled.
Democratic lawmakers made a passionate, yet unsuccessful push on Tuesday evening during a House Rules Committee meeting to get the authorization for the city to impose that tax into a budget-related fiscal code that the House will act on today.  Under Nutter's watchful eye, the committee defeated by a party-line vote this latest, and likely last, effort to address this issue that has added to the legislative drama playing out before the summer recess.

Philly cigarette tax rejected by House GOP
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON JULY 2, 2014
Pennsylvania House Republicans rebuffed an attempt to let Philadelphia impose a cigarette tax to help fund its city schools.  GOP leaders said Tuesday the $2-dollar-a-pack levy was not related to the bill Democrats were attempting to amend.  It was a setback for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who earlier that day had seen senators approve the tax authorization in a separate bill.
Nutter said about 1,300 employees' jobs are on the line, as is the timely opening of city schools in September.

Pennsylvania pension reform takes a blow as Tobash plan is steered into an ardent foe's committee
By Charles Thompson | on July 01, 2014 at 1:14 PM, updated July 01, 2014 at 3:26 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett's full-court press for public employee pension reform in Pennsylvania took a direct hit Tuesday morning as debate on his preferred option was quickly steered into a House committee headed by a reform foe.  The House voted 107-96 to refer the bill making major long-term changes to the current state employees retirement systems to the House Human Services Committee.  The motion was made by Rep. Eugene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County, who has the power as chair of that committee to control all future movement on the bill.  DiGirolamo said he wanted to end Tuesday's debate to clear the way for a broader, big-table discussion of the state's looming pension crisis with all stakeholders represented, including public-sector labor unions.

As Corbett presses, pension reform hits the wall in the House: Analysis
By John L. Micek | on July 01, 2014 at 12:27 PM, updated July 01, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Gov. Tom Corbett continued to press the case for pension reform, even as it became crystal clear that the administration's preferred reform plan did not have the votes to pass the 203-member state House.  In a surprise move, the House voted 107-96 to recommit the pension bill to a House committee chaired by Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, which appeared to effectlvely kill the chances of passage for the administration's preferred reform plan.
The House was far from unanimous on its course on pension reform. Some Republicans have rallied around a hybrid plan sponsored by GOP Rep. Mike Tobash of Schuylkill County that would keep current employees in the defined-benefit pension system and move new hires into a 401(k)-style retirement system.  Rep. Glen Grell, R-Cumberland, author of a competing pension proposal, complained that Tobash's plan fails to address a roughly $50 billion unfunded liability in the pension system.  "I think there are some in our leadership who just want an opportunity to vote on a pension plan," Grell said.

Here's why pension reform is vital to Pennsylvania: William C. Rhodes
PennLive Op-Ed  By William C. Rhodes on July 01, 2014 at 1:52 PM
There is no more vitally important legislative issue confronting our state leaders – and candidates for governor and the Legislature – than meaningful public pension reform. 
Pundits suggest that the issue isn't gaining traction in Harrisburg or locally because voters don't understand it.  The grim reality is that, fiscally, pension reform is the single most important issue facing the Commonwealth. So it's imperative for the public to understand it.

So there's no budget -- now what?: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek |  on July 01, 2014 at 7:52 AM, updated July 01, 2014 at 8:21 AM
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
For Capitol-dwellers, today is the first day of the rest of July - now that Gov. Tom Corbett has rolled the dice on getting pension reform and decided not to sign a new state budget into law.
So now what happens?  Well, lawmakers return to session today to begin moving the package of enabling legislation that actually allows them to spend the collections of ones, zeroes and decimals points that were included in the $29.1 billion budget plan that the House and Senate approved late last night.  And it looks like the state House will start voting on a hybrid pension plan authored by GOPRep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, that the administration favors, but has yet to muster the votes to pass the House.

Did Corbett fumble state budget politics?
Gov. Tom Corbett's decision not to sign the budget passed by the legislature Monday night means that for the first time since he took office, the state didn't have a budget in place by the June 30th deadline. And maybe that's okay for him.  Corbett's been telling voters he's governed without raising taxes (some Republicans dispute that) and gotten budgets done on time, unlike his Democratic predecessor Ed Rendell, but the message isn't exactly working. Polls show him trailing Democratic candidate Tom Wolf by 20 points in the gubernatorial election.
So, when the Pennsylvania legislature approved another budget on time Monday night without tax increases, Corbett balked rather than embracing it. Muhlenbeg College political scientist Christopher Borick said in this election year, Corbett wants more.

Local school officials see uncertainty in new Pa. budget
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 07/01/14, 7:08 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — Uncertainty about the $29 billion budget passed in the final hours of the fiscal year Monday by the General Assembly is not limited to the question of when or whether Gov. Tom Corbett will sign it.  Local school officials, who oversaw local budget adoptions that raised property taxes, remained unsure Tuesday about the exact amount of money the state budget will provide to their districts and how they will be allowed to spend it.
“That sounds about right,” said Pottsgrove Business Manager David Nester when informed of a calculation by The Mercury that put that district’s increase over last year at about $178,000.
This year’s state budget does not increase any district’s “basic subsidy,” which can be used for any purpose.  Rather, the increases come as part of the new “Ready to Learn” block grant program, money from which can only be used for specific purposes, including kindergarten or implementing technology in the classroom.

Wolf leads Corbett: Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leads Gov. Tom Corbett by 22 points in F&M poll
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 12:01 am | Updated: 7:38 am, Wed Jul 2, 2014.
Tom Wolf has done it again. He is dominating his competition in the polls.
The political upstart holds a 22-point lead over Republican Tom Corbett as the gubernatorial campaign shifts into gear for the general election, according to a Franklin & Marshall College survey released Wednesday morning.  The poll found the incumbent trailing his Democratic challenger by 47 percent to 25 percent.  It was the first time the college placed the two candidates head-to-head in the contest for public opinion, and it reveals the Republican is in serious jeopardy of becoming the first Pennsylvania governor ever to be defeated for reelection.

Chichester School Board members approve 1 percent tax increase for school district
By TINA DiSERAFINO, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/02/14, 12:14 AM EDT 
UPPER CHICHESTER — Chichester School Board passed the 2014-2015 final budget totaling nearly $68.7 million in expenditures.  The budget includes a 1 percent property tax increase, raising the school district’s millage rate to 39.0708 mills. Last month’s preliminary version of the budget had proposed a 2 percent tax increase.  Absent from the meeting were board members Georgianna Montella and Jennifer Rodgers who were both on scheduled vacations.
The predicted increase is due to rising health care costs, an increase in pension payments owed to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, and an increase in charter and cyber charter school enrollments.

NSBA: E-Rate funding shortage jeopardizes future of program
The federal E-rate program will lose impact and some school districts will be harmed without additional funding, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has warned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  In a July 1 letter to FCC commissioners, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel warns, “The absence of a meaningful increase in funding – at the heart of NSBA’s recommendations and those of many other organizations – undermines the future of E-rate as a catalyst for progress.  The simultaneous retrenchment of resources from the discount matrix and legacy services exacerbates the dilemma for school districts.  Further, a multi-year commitment to Wi-Fi expansion without a clearly identified funding source in the later years puts the entire E-rate fund at potential risk.  Finally, any departure from need-based dissemination of resources would fundamentally alter the program and potentially harm the very students and schools that need it the most.”

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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