Thursday, August 7, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Aug 7: Philadelphia Ed Fund and Other Public School Advocates Push Governor for More Action to Guarantee Schools Open

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for August 7, 2014:
Philadelphia Ed Fund and Other Public School Advocates Push Governor for More Action to Guarantee Schools Open

Accountability: Should charter school ads paid for with tax dollars be required to include their PA School Performance Profile scores?

Pennsylvania Department of Education's nightly email purges get notice
TribLive By Brad Bumsted Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
HARRISBURG — If Pennsylvania Department of Education officials “delete and cleanse” emails nightly, as the agency's head acknowledged, the practice does not pass a “gut check” for proper email retention policy, the director of the state's Office of Open Records said on Wednesday.
Terry Mutchler, who helped establish the office six years ago when lawmakers amended the Right-to-Know Law, said ordinary citizens would not consider nightly email deletions to be reasonable for a government agency.  “Any of us in public service who believe it's OK to delete email after a day, we ought to rethink it,” Mutchler said.  Acting state Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq told ABC/27 TV in Harrisburg about the practice in an interview defending the Corbett administration's decision to keep former Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis on the payroll since July 2013, paying him a $139,542 salary. Critics have questioned how actively engaged Tomalis has been as Gov. Tom Corbett's adviser on higher education.
Tomalis has sent five emails and made about one phone call a day during that period, records show.
Philadelphia Ed Fund and Other Public School Advocates Push Governor for More Action to Guarantee Schools Open
PHILADELPHIA (August 6th, 2014) – Philadelphia’s leading public school advocacy organizations joined in calling for the Governor to back up his words with actions, this morning.  In response to Governor Corbett’s call for the legislature to return to vote on the legislation authorizing the Philadelphia cigarette tax increase for schools, advocates expressed the need for a definitive agreement by the House and Senate leadership with Governor’s call for the lawmakers to return to work and vote the legislation before school starts on September 8th.

"Hite thanked the governor for "providing some certainty," but said the advance was "just another piece of information that we will use in our consideration for an announcement about schools leading up to the 15th of August."  Hite says that if the school district's $81 million deficit hasn't been significantly closed by that date, he would choose between two bad options: Either layoff an additional 1,300 staffers, making some class sizes balloon to 41 students per teacher, or save money by truncating the school year.  Since the $265 million advance does nothing to close the district's gap, Hite said he still couldn't guarantee that schools would open as scheduled on Sept. 8."
Corbett advances cash to Philly schools; Hite says on-time opening still not guaranteed
Governor Tom Corbett is authorizing a $265 million advance to the Philadelphia school district.
This is an early disbursement of money that the district was already scheduled to receive, and thus does not erase the district's $81 million budget gap.
Corbett, speaking at a press conference Wednesday at his southeastern regional office on South Broad Street, said his goal is to prevent further school layoffs and ensure that city schools open on time on Sept. 8.  "Financially this action will assist the district with their cash-flow needs in the short term," Corbett said. "[It will] reduce the amount that the district will have to borrow, and as a result save the district $4-to-$5 million in borrowing costs."
The district says it asked for this advance in June, and has already included any borrowing related savings in its budget.  (Most school districts routinely do short-term borrowing early in a school year to cover costs until tax revenues begin trickling in.)
At the presser, Corbett was flanked by Superintendent William Hite, School Reform Commissioners Farah Jimenez and Feather Houstoun, as well as Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County, who has been a major champion of the Philadelphia cigarette tax which Mayor Nutter and other local school advocates have touted as a source of new cash.

Corbett to advance $265M to Philly schools
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 4:52 PM POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 10:59 AM
Gov. Corbett said Wednesday that he will advance the troubled Philadelphia school system $265 million, but officials said that action - which represents no new revenue or savings - does not avert layoffs or guarantee schools that will open on time.  Corbett traveled to Philadelphia to make the announcement, standing at a news conference flanked by officials including Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and School Reform Commissioners Feather Houstoun and Farah Jimenez.  Hite said he appreciated Corbett's affirmation, but underscored that the governor's advance does not touch the school district's $81 million shortfall. The district has planned on the $265 million since June, when it asked for that sum.  Layoffs, a shortened school year and class sizes of 40 and more are all still possible, the superintendent said.

Corbett OKs $265M to help Philly schools, but superintendent won't guarantee on-time opening
By KATHY MATHESON Associated Press Posted: August 06, 2014 - 5:24 pm  Last Updated: August 06, 2014 - 5:26 pm
PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday that the state would advance $265 million to the cash-strapped Philadelphia schools, but the superintendent said the money won't guarantee classes will start on time.  Pennsylvania's largest district still has an $81 million budget gap, and officials continue to weigh options including massive layoffs, a delayed start and a shortened school year, Superintendent William Hite said. A decision will be made Aug. 15.
"It changes nothing about what we're considering," Hite said, adding the schools need funding "not just to start the year, but to ensure that the people we carry on payroll are still on payroll at the end of the year."  The up-front funding authorized by Corbett represents early disbursement of cash the schools would normally receive throughout the academic year. Corbett contends it will save the district up to $5 million in short-term borrowing costs and allow buildings to open as planned Sept. 8.

Gov. Corbett Advances $265 Million to Help Philadelphia District
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Denisa R. Superville on August 6, 2014 6:20 PM
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has committed to advancing $265 million to help the financially strapped Philadelphia school district open schools on time.  Corbett's announcement on Wednesday comes as the legislature declined to return to Harrisburg, the state capital, to vote on legislation allowing the city to levy a $2-a-pack cigarette tax that would have provided the schools with about $80 million in a full year and stave off the possibility of massive layoffs this year.
Both houses preliminarily approved the tax in July, but the proposal became mired in amendments and other issues unrelated to Philadelphia's schools. The legislators went on break without giving final approval to the bill.

Rep. Brownlee: Corbett’s front-loading of cash not enough to save Philly schools
Rep. Brownlee's Website PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 6 – Gov. Tom Corbett’s announcement today to front-load money already promised to the School District of Philadelphia does not live up to an adequate state commitment when the city has already done so much to help itself, said state Rep. Michelle Brownlee.  Brownlee pointed to several developments that Philadelphia, its teachers and the federal government have contributed over the past three fiscal years:
·         The Philadelphia City Council has done its part by dedicating $120 million in increased sales-transfer tax revenue for schools and by approving $30 million in bond funds for this school year. For the past three years, City Council has increased taxes to help the school district address its fiscal difficulties.
·         Last year, the federal government – not the state government – provided $45 million in forgiveness of a past debt owed to them.
·         The district has closed 24 schools and eliminated over 3,500 employees – including assistant principals, guidance counselors and instructional aides – and has cut extracurricular activities.
·         Taxpaying members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have done their part by shouldering the brunt of these cutbacks in jobs and in stepping in to fill the holes left from program cutbacks, including maximum class sizes of 30 students in elementary schools and 33 students in secondary schools.
Brownlee said that in addition to front-loading the $265 million for the schools, Corbett should do more to encourage leadership in his own party to help pass not only the authorization for a cigarette tax in Philadelphia, but real reform – including a basic education funding formula – to dedicate future revenue based on districts’ unique needs and not just enrollment numbers.

Pittsburgh Schools Unlikely to Follow Path of Troubled Philadelphia School District
WESA NPR Pittsburgh By DEANNA GARCIA August 6, 2014
As state lawmakers continue to work with Philadelphia officials on getting school to start on time this year, Pittsburgh Public Schools are slated to start on time, and with no layoffs. Philadelphia's school system faces a $81 million budget gap, and officials there say it could delay the start of the year and lead to layoffs and larger class sizes.   Pittsburgh School Board President Thomas Sumpter said the schools are not in crisis mode, but the system does face challenges.
“It’s not so much the budget as the financial wherewithal that confronts the district as far as accelerated costs for pensions, other costs going up and trying to make sure we have enough cash on hand in reserve, and trying to find where we can cut cost in all areas, looking at any possible way to reduce expenditures,” Sumpter said.
Philadelphia operates 274 public schools and 85 charter schools and employs more than 16,800 people. It’s the eighth largest school district in the nation and the largest in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, the state’s second largest district, operates 54 schools and has about 3,900 employees.

Gov. Tom Corbett on defense over his education spending record amid criticisms from opponent Tom Wolf
Wolf hammers at claims governor cut $1 billion.
By Steve Esack and Samantha Marcus, Of The Morning Call 11:50 a.m. EDT, August 6, 2014
As polls have predicted for more than a year, education funding has become the most tangible issue for voters in the upcoming governor's election.  The candidates know it, as evidenced by commercials and news conferences across Pennsylvania.
For the past week, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, his campaign team and supporters have been on a mission to change Corbett's image among many voters who remain angry at $1 billion in cuts he imposed on schools and universities in 2011-12.
At the same time, Democrat Tom Wolf, his campaign team and backers have orchestrated TV ads, emails, and public events critical of Corbett's 4-year-old budget decisions.
That messaging war continued Wednesday in the Lehigh Valley.
Pennsylvania's epidemic of sex abuse in schools demands action
TribLive Opinion By Paul Clymer & David Maloney Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
State Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, chairs the House Education Committee. State Rep. David Maloney, R-Berks, is a member of the House Education Committee and a former member of the Oley Valley School Board.
The Tribune-Review's investigative article “Pennsylvania near top of list for teacher impropriety” on sex abuse and misconduct cases among teachers and school employees in Pennsylvania reinforces our determination that further legislative action is critical to protect kids.
While state attorneys across the nation have registered 450 sex abuse cases against teachers this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education recorded an astounding 482 in 2013 alone, according to the article. This is a crisis in our commonwealth, but one important piece of pending legislation will help close a loophole that allows sexual abuse to continue.
Seven charter school groups submit York City proposals
York Dispatch By ERIN JAMES 505-5439/@ydcity POSTED:   08/05/2014 09:25:46 PM EDT
Officials at the York City School District are poring over information detailed in hundreds of pages of documents submitted by seven groups interested in converting the district to charter schools next year.  The proposals were due Friday and were released to the public Tuesday.  David Meckley, the district's chief recovery officer, said he hasn't had a chance to read all 2,300 pages.  But, he said, "I believe we do have some quality proposals in there."  Both nonprofits and for-profit companies submitted proposals. Two proposals have ties to other York City charter school operators.

Programs, staff at risk as Scranton schools deficit reaches $7.5 million
Times-Tribune SARAH HOFIUS HALL, STAFF WRITER Published: August 7, 2014
Faced with a 2015 deficit of at least $7.5 million, the Scranton School District will likely need to cut programs and positions, some school directors said this week.
After approving the fact finder’s report last week, members of the school board now have a better idea of what a new teachers contract will cost, and the tough decisions that will have to be made. A tax increase will not even come close to covering the deficit.
“I think it’s a crisis,” board President Kathleen McGuigan said. “It’s obvious it means we will have to cut programs, cut costs.”  The 2014 budget of $126 million, balanced largely with one-time revenue sources, including borrowed money and the sale of property, helped create the deficit for next year. With increased pension costs of almost $3 million and a new teachers contract that will cost about $2.9 million, the deficit continues to grow.

Attorney: Monday 'deadline' for Saucon Valley teachers contract
Teachers union attorney Andrew Muir said if contract isn't reached by Monday, teachers could strike.
By Jacqueline Palochko, Of The Morning Call 9:09 p.m. EDT, August 6, 2014
If Saucon Valley teachers don't receive a contract by Monday, they could strike.
Maybe.  Andrew Muir, the attorney representing the teachers, said the union and the school district will negotiate Thursday night and Monday. Muir is looking at Monday as a "deadline," he said, but would not say for certain that teachers will strike if they don't have a contract.
Muir would only say that teachers have the right to strike and "could go on strike."
"I'm going to make some big announcements if something isn't worked out by Monday," Muir said. "We're definitely running out of time here."
Teachers, who went on strike in 2008 and 2009 during contract negotiations, have been without a contract for more than two years.
Gleason, recently named a “Reformer to Watch” by the Walton Foundation, declined Notebook requests for an interview, preferring to submit a written statement.
The path forward: A statement from PSP's Mark Gleason
the notebook By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 6, 2014 12:18 PM
As the head of the Philadelphia School Partnership, Mark Gleason sits at the heart of the school reform movement in Philadelphia.  PSP is the conduit for tens of millions in philanthropic dollars, which it deploys to support what it calls “the transformation, expansion and startup of high-performing schools.”  It measures success by “the number of students in Philadelphia who move out of failing schools to better-quality school options.”
PSP also staffs such collaborative efforts as the “Great Schools Compact” and lobbies elected officials behind the scenes. Among other things, it actively supported Bill Green for chair of the School Reform Commission, lobbying state legislators to support his candidacy.

The Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014
Education Next By Michael J. Petrilli August 2014
It’s August, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for our annual list of top education-policy Twitter feeds. (Click for the 20132012, and 2011 versions.) Klout scores are the primary metric (with ties broken by the number of Twitter followers); a main focus on K–12 education policy is the only eligibility requirement.

Schools 'holding breath' as immigrant children arrive
USA TODAY NETWORKJolie Lee, USA TODAY Network1:30 a.m. EDT August 7, 2014
Schools across the USA are bracing for as many as 50,000 immigrant children who would start school this fall, most of them unaccompanied by their families.  "We haven't started school yet, so we are all just holding our breath to see what's going to come on the first day of school," says Caroline Woodason, assistant director of school support for Dalton Public Schools in Georgia.
Under federal law, all children are entitled to a free public education, regardless of their immigration status.  It's nothing new for public schools to serve immigrant students. But Francisco Negron, general counsel for the National School Board Association, says, "One of the challenges here, though, is the large number of unaccompanied minors."
"This is a whole new wave of immigrant students that are coming without any guardians whatsoever," Negron says.

These Are The States With The Best And Worst School Systems, According To New Rankings
The Huffington Post  | By Rebecca Klein Posted: 08/04/2014 2:53 pm EDT
A new education ranking released this week found that students in New Jersey are receiving a much better education than students in Mississippi.  The ranking, from the personal finance site Wallethub, outlines the best and worst states for K-12 education, given the connection between one's education and future earning potential. The ranking was based on 12 factors, including student dropout rate, pupil/teacher ratio, test scores, rates of bullying and school safety measures.

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.

Interested in education policy? CPE has got the internship for you!
The EDifier August 6, 2014
The Center for Public Education seeks a policy research intern to work closely with CPE’s senior policy analyst in conducting education policy research. CPE is a national resource for accurate, timely, and credible information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools.  Primary duties include: Complete a major project such as a research report or writing a research article for NSBA’s magazine American School Board Journal. Other responsibilities include summarizing findings of significant education reports, updating CPE’s previous reports, and attending briefings/conferences in the Washington, DC area.

Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools Posted on August 4, 2014by wearepcaps
Forty Thousand Philadelphia registered voters signed a petition this Spring to put the question of returning our schools to local control and abolishing the School Reform Commission on the ballot in the form of a non-binding referendum. But before this can happen City Council and the Mayor and have to approve. Come to the town meeting to find out how returning our schools to local control can improve education and how can bring pressure on our elected officials to let the people vote on this important question.

Upcoming meetings on Philly District's school redesign initiative
the notebook By Marilyn Vaccaro on Jul 30, 2014 05:14 PM
The School District is planning a series of meetings and discussions about its new school redesign initiative, which was announced last week.  Two informational sessions will be held, with  the second on Aug. 12. Those who participate will be able to learn more about the application process and the specifics of the initiative itself.   Through the initiative, the District is calling on teams of educators, parents, community groups, and other outside organizations to propose their own school turnaround plans. Ten winning design teams will be chosen in October and will receive grants of $30,000 to support planning costs.

Bucks Lehigh EduSummit Monday Aug 11th and Tuesday Aug 12th
Location: Southern Lehigh High School 5800 Main Street, Center Valley, PA 18034
Time: 8 AM - 3 PM Each Day(Registration starts at 7:30 AM. Keynote starts at 8:00 AM.)
The Bucks Lehigh EduSummit is a collaboratively organized and facilitated two day professional learning experience coordinated by educators in the Quakertown Community School District , Palisades School DistrictSalisbury Township School DistrictSouthern Lehigh School DistrictBucks County IU, and Carbon Lehigh IU, which are all located in northern Bucks county and southern Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Teachers in other neighboring districts are welcome to attend as well! The purpose of the EduSummit is to collaborate, connect, share, and learn together for the benefit of our kids. Focus areas include: Educational Technology, PA Core, Social Media, Best Practices, etc.

Educational Collaborators Pennsylvania Summit Aug. 13-14
The Educational Collaborators, in partnership with the Wilson School District, is pleased to announce a unique event,  the Pennsylvania Summit featuring Google for Education on August 13th and 14th, 2014!  This summit is an open event primarily focused on Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, Google Earth, YouTube, and many other effective and efficient technology integration solutions to help digitally convert a school district.  These events are organized by members of the Google Apps for Education community.

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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