Friday, August 15, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 15: Will York City SD become next New Orleans?

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 15, 2014:
Will York City SD become next New Orleans?

To inform state policymaking, Pew provides research on the fiscal challenges state and cities face as a result of their pension and retiree health promises.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts

SRC meeting canceled; Hite will have press conference Friday morning
The notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 14, 2014 05:21 PM
With D-Day upon us -- the Aug. 15 deadline for layoffs and other cuts without a guarantee of more funds for this school year -- District leaders on Thursday first announced a special meeting of the School Reform Commission, then canceled that and opted for a press conference instead.
Superintendent William Hite will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday in the atrium of District headquarters at 440 N. Broad St. SRC members will be present.  The SRC meeting was canceled because there was no agenda and no action items for the SRC to vote on, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard.  It is generally expected that Hite will announce that he has received sufficient assurances from Gov. Corbett's office and key legislative leaders to allow him to open schools on time on Sept. 8. Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski will give an update on the District's finances.

Decision pending on whether Phila. schools will open on time
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, August 15, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, August 14, 2014, 7:07 PM
Will Philadelphia schools open on Sept. 8, as scheduled? Can the nearly broke system afford to run classes all year? Will officials lay off more than 1,300 employees? Will they pack classes with 40 students?  After a summer of suspense, the answers to those questions are expected Friday. A special School Reform Commission meeting had been called for Friday morning but was scrapped late Thursday in favor of a news conference with Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.

Parents anxiously await decision on Philly schools
WITH THE summer winding down, Erika Ford's daughter, Jordin, is excited about her first day of kindergarten - or "big kids' school," as she calls it.  "It's like something that she's been waiting for, leading up to, looking forward to," said Ford, of Nicetown.  Unfortunately, Ford and thousands of other parents in the Philadelphia School District aren't sure exactly when that first day will be - or what conditions to expect - due to the district's budget woes.  Superintendent William Hite is expected to announce a plan today to deal with an $81 million deficit, which could include massive layoffs, moving back the scheduled Sept. 8 opening or shortening the school year.

Commonwealth Foundation's analysis of Philly school finances is flawed
By John Sludden  thenotebook on Aug 14, 2014 12:13 PM
Note: This is adapted from a brief that was published Aug. 8 by the Philadelphia-based group Research for Action. The full brief can be found here.
Philadelphia’s school funding situation is a central issue in state policy discussions. The recent debate has focused on city’s authority to raise taxes on cigarettes. But the essential questions on whether the school system has enough money have been present in the state capitol for at least two decades.  The Commonwealth Foundation released a brief on Philadelphia school trends recently that received prominent attention in the local press. It argued that despite a funding increase, the District has little academic improvement to show for it.
The main arguments presented in the brief are:
·         “Revenue and spending have soared over the last 10 years.”
·         “Despite spending more on education, performance is lagging.”
·         Student “enrollment has declined more rapidly than staff.”
·         “Systemic reform is needed.”
But our analysis shows that the brief’s evidence and conclusions are misleading, inaccurate and devoid of context. For instance, the foundation fails to note that the bulk of the revenue “increase” in the last five years of the sample came in the form of proceeds from borrowing. And much of that money went to pay for mandated, and climbing, costs related to special education, and charter schools.  We examine each point below, using our own data supplemented by research from other non-partisan organizations.  

Why Philadelphia Schools Might Not Open
A large drop in federal funding and insufficient replacement from the state sent Philadelphia reeling.
US News and World Report By Allie BidwellAug. 13, 2014 | 4:42 p.m. EDT
The city of Philadelphia has just days to find a solution to a funding crisis in order to open its more than 200 schools for the next academic year.  Sound familiar? It should, because the same thing happened last year, when the district was facing a $50 million shortfall in funding after it had already laid off thousands of employees. Though the city eventually borrowed money to bail the district out and reinstate some employees, the last-minute fix hasn't had a lasting impact. Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite is currently asking for $81 million to bridge the gap by August 15, or schools won't open on time and the district will lay off more teachers and school staff.  But with state lawmakers out of session and unable to give the city authority to levy a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes – the currently proposed strategy that would allow schools to open on time – the prospects look dim.

Pennsylvania's public school staffing at 10-year low
TribLive By Melissa Daniels August 14, 2014
The number of public school teachers and support staffers employed in Pennsylvania began falling the year before Gov. Tom Corbett took office and passed his first budget, according to state employment figures that show school staffing is at its lowest point in a decade.
An attack ad this week by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf blames Corbett for cutting state education funding, and his website says those cuts “removed 20,000 teachers from the classroom,” but neither notes the downward trend was under way.
“Corbett cut a billion dollars from education,” Wolf tells the camera. “Now almost 80 percent of school districts plan to raise property taxes.”  The Republican Party of Pennsylvania shot back, deriding the statement as a lie and telling Wolf to remove the ad.  Billy Pitman, Corbett's campaign spokesman, said stimulus funding “artificially propped up” school budgets.
Plan would boost charters' teacher certifications
WITF State House Sound Bites by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 14, 2014 6:41 PM
Traditional public schools and charter schools don't have the same rules when it comes to teacher certifications, but one new proposal would bring the two types of schools a little closer together.  100 percent of professional staff at traditional public schools in Pennsylvania are required to be certified by the state. Contrast that with charter and cyber charter schools, which are only required to have 75 percent of their teachers state-certified.  Forthcoming legislation from state Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) would hike that level to 80 percent.

Charter operators talk experience, plans in York
Seven organizations made presentations at a meeting Wednesday
York Daily Record By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter
UPDATED:   08/13/2014 11:35:52 PM EDT1 COMMENT
Charter operators pitched their history, experience and plans for taking over York City School District schools during a meeting Wednesday night.  The seven organizations that responded to the district's request for proposals for outside operators made presentations to the Community Education Council. Here's a look at some of what they had to say:

Corbett defends education adviser who resigned amid questions about duties
By Mary Niederberger and Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 14, 2014 11:54 AM
Gov. Tom Corbett today defended outgoing higher education adviser Ron Tomalis, maintaining the Mr. Tomalis did his job despite accusations that he was a “ghost employee” for the past year.
In addition, the governor said politics were behind demands in recent days for the firing of acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq, who has vigorously defended Mr. Tomalis in the wake of a July 27 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that showed Mr. Tomalis wrote just five emails, averaged little more than a phone call a day and had a largely empty calendar in his first year as higher education adviser.

PPG Editorial: Questions remain: Corbett aide’s exit won’t make the case go away
By the Editorial Board August 15, 2014 12:00 AM
It’s no surprise that Ron Tomalis, Gov. Tom Corbett’s special adviser on higher education, resigned Tuesday.  The Corbett administration had been having a tough time explaining what he did in the last year to earn the $139,542 salary he was paid after stepping down as state education secretary in June 2013. Plus, Mr. Tomalis’ boss is running for re-election — better to try and tamp down the controversy in August than, say, in October.
But this issue is not likely to go away. The questions about Mr. Tomalis’ work product remain, despite Mr. Corbett’s declaration two weeks ago that “he’s not a ghost employee” and education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq’s fumbling defense of a colleague who was paid as much as she without heading a department of 600 employees and a $12 billion budget.

Brian O’Neill: State official’s purge ends a lesson to kids
By Brian O’Neill / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 14, 2014 12:00 AM
I’m a bit sorry the governor’s special adviser on higher education wasn’t able to hang on a little longer, as Ron Tomalis and his allies were fast becoming an inspiration to students across the commonwealth.  I’m not speaking only of Mr. Tomalis’ making big money for not doing very much. That’s been done many times before Gov. Tom Corbett gave Mr. T a special adviser’s gig that paid $139,542.  I’m speaking mainly of the string of ever flimsier excuses that had been keeping him afloat for weeks. Our students desperately need something fresher than “the dog ate my homework,’’ and Mr. Tomalis’ colleagues had been nothing if not imaginative in coming up with new alibis for why this man seemed to do less than even the Maytag repairman.
Read more:

Could 'community school' concept work in Philadelphia?
In Philadelphia, 40 percent of school-aged kids live in poverty.
One in five students has had some contact with the Department of Human Services
The rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea among Philadelphia's 15- to 19-year-olds is three times the national average.  In an effort to help city children achieve academically despite socioeconomic and cultural trappings, City Council has started examining the idea of turning schools into social-service hubs.  On Wednesday, Council held its first hearing on the possibility of creating "school-based family service centers," commonly known as "community schools."

With Tuesday's LA school board loss, charter advocates recalculate
SCNPR by Annie Gilbertson and Claire Withycombe  August 13, 08:44 PM
After Tuesday's defeat of another of their candidates to the Los Angeles school board, charter school advocates are rethinking how to support local candidates.
"The area where I would like to see us continue to make strides is reliably marshalling a grassroot support of voters," said Gary Borden, executive director of the California Charter School Association Advocates.  Alex Johnson garnered 13,153 votes, losing George McKenna by less than 2,000 votes during Tuesday's runoff. District One being home to about 15,000 charter school students.  Johnson ran on a message of reform, advocating for the expansion of charter schools and tying test scores to teacher evaluations, amongst other criteria. He was much more successful in attracting independent expenditures, garnering $860,000, more than four times the outside financial support as McKenna.

Pennsylvania Arts Education Network 2014 Arts and Education Symposium
The 2014 Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 2 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA.  Join us for a daylong convening of arts education policy leaders and practitioners for lively discussions about the latest news from the field.
The Symposium registration fee is $45 per person. To register, click here or follow the prompts at the bottom of the page.  The Symposium will include the following:

National School Boards Action Center August 06, 2014 by Staff
Members of Congress return to their hometowns to meet with constituents locally and on September 8 they return to Washington, D.C.  As a public education advocate, you can help to influence their decisions and votes on legislation affecting your local public schools by reaching out to your members of Congress.  They will be especially interested in your concerns as this is an election year for the entire U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the Senate.
Read the latest on federal education issues on Capitol Hill  in the NSBAC August Congressional Recess Talking Points and then contact  your members of Congress during the August recess.  You can call your members’ offices using the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 or use the National School Boards Association’s legislative action center at  Consider becoming a Friend of Public Education to connect with National School Boards Action Center’s advocacy efforts and stay active year round.

Save the Date 2014 PAESSP State Conference October 19-21, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PAESSP State Conference, “PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS: Leading Schools in a New Age of Accountability,” to be held October 19-21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Featuring Keynote Speakers: Alan November, Michael Fullan & Dr. Ray Jorgensen
This year’s conference will provided PIL Act 45 hours, numerous workshops, exhibits, multiple resources and an opportunity to network with fellow principals from across the state.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference registration forms now available online
PSBA Website
Make plans today to attend the most talked about education conference of the year. This year's PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference promises to be one of the best with new ideas, innovations, networking opportunities and dynamic speakers. More details are being added every day. Online registration will be available in the next few weeks. If you just can't wait, registration forms are available online now. Other important links are available with more details on:
·         Hotel registration (reservation deadline extended to Sept. 26)
·         Educational Publications Contest (deadline Aug. 6)
·         Student Celebration Showcase (deadline Sept. 19)
·         Poster and Essay Contest (deadline Sept. 19)

Slate of candidates for PSBA offices now available online -- bios/videos now live
PSBA Website August 5, 2014

The slate of candidates for 2015 PSBA officer and at-large representatives is now available online. Photos, bios and videos also have been posted for each candidate. According to recent PSBA Bylaws changes, each member school entity casts one vote per office. Voting will again take place online through a secure, third-party website -- Simply Voting. Voting will openSept. 9 and closes Oct. 6. One person from the school entity (usually the board secretary) is authorized to cast the vote on behalf of the member school entity and each board will need to put on its agenda discussion and voting at one of its meetings in September. Each person authorized to cast the school entity's votes will be receiving an email in the coming weeks to verify the email address and confirm they are the person to cast the vote on behalf of their school entity. 

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