Saturday, August 16, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 16: Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 16, 2014:
Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts

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

A Mound Becomes a Summit
Mo’ne Davis Dominates at Little League World Series
New York Times By WILLIAM C. RHODEN AUG. 15, 2014
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — An unmistakable electricity ran through Howard J. Lamade Stadium on Friday as a team from Pennsylvania faced a team from Tennessee on the second day of the Little League World Series.  Outside the stadium, fans and family members were enjoying a pleasant afternoon. But inside, there was the energy of championship Sunday, a sense of expectation that went beyond partisan cheering. Something special was happening.

Ousted education aide Ron Tomalis looking at enriched state pension
Records obtained under the Right-to-Know Law show Tomalis' annual retirement payments will be nearly $7,000 higher a year under state pension rules.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 10:15 p.m. EDT, August 15, 2014
HARRISBURG — As part of his re-election campaign, Gov. Tom Corbett has been barnstorming communities and urging lawmakers to change the state pension systems to control spiraling debts he says hurt taxpayers.  But Corbett's decision to retain former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis as an adviser the past 15 months likely will increase the long-term debt by tens of thousands of dollars and provide Tomalis nearly $7,000 more each year in pension payments.
Tomalis' pension would have been based on a 2 percent multiplier if Corbett had dismissed him in spring 2013, when the governor named a new education secretary. But Corbett kept Tomalis as a higher education adviser, qualifying him for a 2.5 percent multiplier for all his years of employment. Tomalis earlier worked nearly seven years under Gov. Tom Ridge, according to State Employees' Retirement System records obtained under the Right-to-Know Law.
Open Letter from Superintendent Hite on the Opening of Schools
School District of Philadelphia August 15, 2014

Philadelphia Schools to Open on Time Amid Millions in Budget Cuts
New York Times By MOTOKO RICH and JON HURDLE AUG. 15, 2014
After having warned that schools might not open on time in Philadelphia, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Friday that a series of temporary spending cuts would help administrators to close an $81 million budget deficit and that classes would start as scheduled next month.  This was the second year in a row that the school district’s perilous financesprompted the superintendent to threaten a delay or more layoffs.  In a news conference on Friday morning, Mr. Hite said he hoped cuts of about $32 million in transportation, school police, building cleaners, purchases from vendors and other areas would be temporary. Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a Philadelphia-only cigarette tax that would raise an estimated $49 million for city schools in the current academic year.

"We are on the precipice, with the fate of not just the school district, but the city and the broader region at stake," said School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green.”
Phila. schools to open on schedule, but with deep budget cuts
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Saturday, August 16, 2014, 1:07 AM POSTED: Friday, August 15, 2014, 5:42 PM
City schools will open as scheduled Sept. 8, but with deep cuts to student transportation, school police and building maintenance, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Friday.  Hite ordered $32 million in budget cuts to ensure enough cash for classes to begin on time, and he said that without action in Harrisburg by Oct. 1, more than 1,000 layoffs and further reductions to school budgets will follow in October.  "We don't know if there's light at the end of the tunnel," a somber Hite said at a news conference.

Hite: Schools will open on time without major layoffs
PHILADELPHIA PUBLIC schools will open on time and avoid massive layoffs, but reduce key services to help address an $81 million deficit, officials announced yesterday.
Superintendent William Hite said the district is banking on assurances from state officials that a Philadelphia cigarette tax will be approved, which could generate $49 million for the district this school year, as well as concessions from the teachers union that would net major savings.
Without those two measures in place by Oct. 1, the next step would likely be significant layoffs, which would increase class sizes and require combined grade-level classes, Hite said.

5 things to know about the District's decision to open schools on time
The notebook By Paul Socolar on Aug 15, 2014 11:43 AM
Flanked by four members of the School Reform Commission, Superintendent William Hite announced Friday morning that Philadelphia schools would open on time Sept. 8, but that another round of "difficult and hopefully temporary" cuts would be made to narrow the District's $81 million deficit.  Here are five key points about the School District's latest plan for dealing with its budget gap.

Philly schools will open on time, but with fewer resources than last year
Philadelphia's public schools will open on time and – for the time being – mass layoffs will be averted.  Superintendent William Hite made the announcement Friday morning after a month where he offered both options as a way to cover the district's $81 million budget gap.
The district is banking on the assurance of top republican lawmakers in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania will pass legislation authorizing the $2-per-pack Philadelphia cigarette tax in mid-September.  If so, the district expects revenue collections will begin Oct. 1 and generate $49 million for the district this school year.
This, of course, is no slam dunk. 

More Cuts Announced for Philadelphia Schools
ABC News By KATHY MATHESON Associated Press PHILADELPHIA Aug 15, 2014, 2:36 PM
The cash-strapped city school district will cut another $32 million in services to free up enough money to start classes on time, but massive layoffs still loom if state lawmakers don't approve a cigarette tax, officials said Friday.  Thousands of high school students won't get transportation to school, buildings will be cleaned less frequently and school police officer vacancies will go unfilled as part of the district's effort to close an $81 million shortfall before the first bell rings Sept. 8.
Superintendent William Hite called the reductions "unbelievably tough" decisions but also the "least harmful" for students and families. Officials had been weighing options such as a delayed start, a shortened school year or large numbers of pink slips.

Full House at West Philly Town Meeting on Local Control of Schools
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools Posted on August 15, 2014 by wearepcaps
Over a hundred people gathered last night at Monumental Baptist Church to press for ending the 13 year old failed experiment with the School Reform Commission and return our schools to local control. For PCAPS this demand is part of a broader campaign to elect a Governor and legislators who are committed to quality education for all children.

With the threat of strike in the air, Saucon Valley parents worry about day care
They'll need help if educators stay out four to six weeks, as union lawyer has threatened.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 10:34 p.m. EDT, August 15, 2014
Jessica Pretopapa isn't sure what she's going to do if her two children aren't back at Saucon Valley Elementary School at the end of the month.  Her 8- and 6-year-old daughters are supposed to start school Aug. 25.  But teachers union attorney Andrew Muir threatened that teachers could strike for four to six weeks. And if that doesn't work, Muir said Thursday, the teachers will strike again in the school year.
Saucon Valley contract stalemate: Pennsylvania's strike laws
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times on August 15, 2014 at 5:49 PM
The attorney hired by Saucon Valley teachers has set an Aug. 21 deadline for the school board to approve its latest contract offer and avert another strikeSaucon Valley School Board negotiations with the Saucon Valley Education Association have turned contentious frequently in recent years resulting in strikes in 2005, 2008 and 2009.  That means some members of the Saucon Valley community are well versed in Pennsylvania's law governing teacher strikes.  For those of you who aren't, here's a primer on how it works and how long teachers can stay out.

Education Law Center Celebrating Education Champions 2014
On September 17, 2014 the Education Law Center will hold its annual event at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Education Champions. This year, the event will honor William P. Fedullo, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn, Education Committee Chair for the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches; and the Stoneleigh Foundation, a Philadelphia regional leader on at-risk youth issues.

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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