Thursday, July 3, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 3: Indicted former cyber school chief seeks more time to sift through government's evidence

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for July 3, 2014:
Indicted former cyber school chief seeks more time to sift through government's evidence

Indicted former cyber school chief seeks more time to sift through government's evidence
By Brian Bowling Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 6:36 p.m.
The former head of a Beaver County cyber charter school is still waiting for the government to provide an additional 288,000 documents as well as respond to his motion to dismiss the criminal case, so a federal judge should give Nicholas Trombetta another 60 days to file pretrial motions, his lawyers say in a motion filed Wednesday.  A federal grand jury in August indicted Trombetta of East Liverpool, Ohio, on 11 counts of mail fraud, bribery, tax conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Trombetta is accused of using his position as the head of the PA Cyber Charter School and his control of several related entities to grab at least $1 million in tax dollars paid to the school, prosecutors say.
“A last-minute amendment was also added to the cigarette tax legislation (House Bill 1177) that allows organizations hoping to open new charter schools in Philadelphia to make appeals to a state board if denied by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. As is, these matters are the sole purview of the SRC.  Some onlookers criticized this addition, saying it will undercut the School District's ability to manage charter growth, and thus cause already costly charter payments to grow exponentially.”
Pa. House authorizes Philly to tax cigarettes for school funding
By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 2, 2014 08:29 PM Updated | 11:50 pm 
Legislation that would enable Philadelphia to levy a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a 119 to 80 vote Wednesday night.
This after a whirlwind of political deal-making and maneuvering by ideologically entrenched interests on both sides of the aisle.  Having escaped the House Rules Committee by unanimous consent, the cigarette tax bill faced a vote before the full House.
There it passed with the approval of 74 Democrats and 45 Republicans.
The Philadelphia School District had been waiting for the state to authorize a city cigarette tax in order to help close a $93 million budget gap.

PA House Roll Call Vote on Philly Cigarette Tax

After Battle, Pa. House OKs Philadelphia Cigarette Tax
CBS Philly By Tony Romeo July 2, 2014 9:36 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa., (CBS) — In a major breakthrough for city and school district officials, the state House Wednesday night passed a bill that would authorize a cigarette tax to help close the Philadelphia school district’s deficit.  After the House vote Wednesday night, Mayor Michael Nutter called it “possibly one of the greatest turnarounds” in recent legislative history.

Pension vote to wait, Philly schools bill doesn't
By MARC LEVY, Associated Press POSTED: 07/03/14, 5:40 AM EDT |
HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania House Republican leaders lost battles on public pension legislation backed by Gov. Tom Corbett and a Philadelphia public schools bill on Wednesday as they tried to salvage a successful end to a rocky spring session before it dragged farther into summer.  They agreed to postpone a vote on the pension bill until the fall and then allowed a vote on separate legislation that would authorize Philadelphia to impose a $2 per-pack sales tax on cigarettes to help plug a crippling deficit in its schools’ budget. The bill passed, 119-80, before the House adjourned for the night.  House Human Services Committee Chairman Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, said he had commitments from GOP leaders Wednesday before he agreed to undo a procedural maneuver that had derailed a vote on the pension bill a day earlier.

"To my knowledge, the only districts in Delaware County that counted on money in the budget are poorer districts," he said. "We're also the districts that have cut the most in last couple years."
Pa. ups school funds, but district officials are down
KATHY BOCCELLA, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, July 3, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 1:31 PM
For school districts in the Philadelphia region, this is one of those times when more feels like less.
Although the $29.1 billion 2014-15 state spending plan approved this week by lawmakers in Harrisburg includes slightly more money for K-12 education than last year, the new dollars are fewer than what Gov. Corbett proposed in February, and not enough for most districts to pay rising bills - especially pensions - without hiking taxes.

Pension bill put off until fall as Corbett reviews budget
Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 2, 2014 7:40 PM
Governor Corbett said he’s not done looking over a state budget proposal sent to him Monday night.  “I spent quite a bit of time yesterday with the staff,” said Corbett. “They continue to do a review of the budget.” The governor made his remarks Wednesday during a press conference – his first since before the spending plan passed.  Corbett has touted on-time budgets for the past three years of his term as governor, but when lawmakers delivered a $29.1 billion proposal just before the June 30 deadline, he refused to sign it right away, as had been his custom.
Instead, the governor held out for movement on a public pension overhaul proposal before House lawmakers.  “I continue to urge the legislature to move forward on pension reform now,” Corbett said.

Corbett: No decision yet on signing budget
Governor's pension spat with Legislature continues. House removes extra money for Allentown schools.
By Gideon Bradshaw, Call Harrisburg Bureau 11:43 p.m. EDT, July 2, 2014
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett is criticizing state lawmakers for not passing a pension reform bill he supports, as his standoff with lawmakers over this year's budget continues.
"Pension reform really does equal property tax relief," Corbett said during a news conference Wednesday. "We need reforms for the families of Pennsylvania. We cannot continue to see property taxes increase."  Corbett has refused to sign 2014-15 budget since it arrived on his desk Monday night, noting that the Legislature had not passed a pension-reform proposal he supports.
If Corbett does nothing on the proposed budget by July 12, it will become law. Corbett also has the authority to remove items from the budget by line-item veto, or veto the budget in its entirety. He said his staff is reviewing the budget "line by line." He wouldn't say what he's planning to do, only that, for now, "every option is on the table."
Read more:,0,7626338.story#ixzz36PHKp9ZW

House Republican leaders to Corbett: Sign the budget
By Charles Thompson | 
on July 02, 2014 at 11:30 PM, updated July 03, 2014 at 6:20 AM
House Republican leaders had this message for Gov. Tom Corbett after, they hope, gaveling out for the summer Wednesday night, sending their members off to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday at home: Sign the budget.  Doing anything else right now, they added, could be a risky exercise in political futility because, for the moment, they sincerely believe they've done all they can do.

Governor reiterates call for pension legislation; budget signing on hold
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau July 2, 2014 11:20 PM
HARRISBURG — The standstill over the state budget continued through a second day of the fiscal year Wednesday as Gov. Tom Corbett again urged legislators to send him a bill remaking the pensions of future state and school workers.
Mr. Corbett said his office continues to review the $29.1 billion state budget legislators approved late Monday. He added he is waiting for the fiscal code, legislation needed to implement the budget, which the House was preparing Wednesday night to send back to the Senate.
The governor declined to say how long he is willing to go without a state budget in place.

Corbett stalls for budget win while poll shows his second term chances tanking
GOV. CORBETT is stalling on the budget approved Monday by his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature and G. Terry Madonna thinks he knows why.
Madonna, head of the Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll, says Corbett needs a last-minute victory packed into the state budget bill to salvage his chances for a second term.
A poll Madonna is releasing today shows just how politically dire the situation is for Corbett.
York County businessman Tom Wolf leads Corbett by 22 points, 47 to 25 percent, with 27 percent of voters still undecided.

Wolf says Pa. budget numbers built on 'smoke and mirrors'
Lancaster Online by Associated Press Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 6:30 am | Updated: 8:28 am, Thu Jul 3, 2014.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor said Wednesday he is suspicious about revenue numbers in the budget passed by Republican majorities in the Legislature that now awaits action by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Tom Wolf told The Associated Press that he believes the budget was built on "smoke and mirrors" and dubious assumptions about how much money the state will collect in the coming year, including $95 million from leases for natural gas drilling under state parks and forests.

State funding increases do little to help cash-strapped Columbia schools
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:47 pm
The newly passed state budget offers the high-poverty Columbia schools a little extra cash, but the amount is less than what district leaders were counting on.  The smaller increase " will continue to squeeze Columbia financially," said Laura Cowburn, the district's business manager.
The $361,984 increase for the Columbia schools amounts to a  hike of 4.1 percent, which sounds good but includes increases for such mandated spending as pensions and Social Security for current and retired employees.

Arise Academy charter decides to fight back
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, July 3, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 7:04 PM
The attendance officer at Arise Academy Charter High School in West Oak Lane was concerned when a junior with spotless attendance missed school.  Administrators made calls and found out that the agency that runs the group home where Affrika Clarke, 18, lived had abruptly moved her and her housemates in May to a motel in Fort Washington because of bedbugs.  But the group home but would not transport her to school from the new location. So principal Taneisha Spall and another administrator picked up Clarke and drove her back and forth for a few days until she returned to her group home in Germantown.  Arise CEO Roberta Trombetta said such attention is the norm at the nation's first charter school for teens in foster care. But its future is in doubt. The Philadelphia School Reform Commission is considering closing the charter because of academic, financial and management problems.

Common Core test anxiety
Politico By STEPHANIE SIMON and CAITLIN EMMA | 7/2/14 8:59 PM EDT
A new front has opened in the Common Core wars — over testing contracts.
The high-stakes battle is undermining one of the Obama administration’s most prized initiatives: its vision, backed by more than $370 million in federal funds, of testing students across the country on a common set of exams in math, reading and writing.  The administration wants children in Mississippi to be measured against the same bar as children in Massachusetts or Michigan. But now a testing revolt is spreading across the country, adding to a slew of troubles for the Common Core initiative, which began as a bipartisan effort but has come under fire from parents and teachers across the political spectrum.  Four years ago, about 40 states expressed interest in using shared tests. But at least 17 already have backed away from using them this spring, including several of the most populous states, such as New York, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

School Is Over for the Summer. So Is the Era of Majority White U.S. Public Schools.
When schools reopen this fall, demographic changes will have tipped the balance to nonwhite students.
National Journal By Janell Ross and Peter Bell July 1, 2014
The 2013-14 school year has drawn to a close in most U.S. school districts, and with it the final period in which white students composed a majority of the nation's K-12 public school population. When schools reopen in August and September, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American students will together make up a narrow majority of the nation's public school students.
The change marks far more than a statistical blip.

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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