Thursday, September 4, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept 4: 27% of PA school districts used fund balance $ for 2012-13 budgets; 58% had fund balances of 5% or less

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3250 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for September 4, 2014:
27% of PA school districts used fund balance $ for 2012-13 budgets; 58% had fund balances of 5% or less

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 10:00 AM
(public hearing on education economics and basic education funding)
Parkland School District Administrative Bldg. 1210 Springhouse Rd. Allentown, PA

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Pennsylvania students outperform the nation on 2014 ACT
PSBA Press Release by Diana Dietz, PSBA Public Relations Manager 9/3/2014
Pennsylvania students who took the college readiness test prior to high school graduation performed better than their peers across the nation in all four subjects tested, according to ACT's The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2014.
Pennsylvania's ACT-tested students exceeded national averages by at least 10 percentage points in meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in each of English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science subject areas in 2014. According to the report, "ACT research has shown those students meeting three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are likely to be successful in postsecondary education. For Pennsylvania, this means that the 53% who met three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks have a strong likelihood of experiencing success in college." Thirty-eight percent of all of Pennsylvania's ACT-tested high school graduates met all four subject benchmarks, compared to 26 percent nationally.  In overall scores, about 19% of Pennsylvania's 2014 graduating class -- or 27,136 students -- participated in the ACT this year with an average composite score of 22.7. Although Pennsylvania yielded a smaller test-taking population than the overall U.S. participation of 57%, Pennsylvania's average score is 1.7 points higher in college readiness than the national average score of 21 this year.

"According to data released by PSBA, 137 school districts throughout the state, or 27 percent, were forced to use fund balance monies to help maintain the budget in the 2012-13 school year. The same data shows about 58 percent, or 288 school districts, were operating from a zero to a 5 percent fund balance."
Coatesville school district operating with negative fund balance
By Kristina Scala, Daily Local News POSTED: 09/02/14, 11:02 AM EDT
There are more than a dozen school districts throughout the state operating with a negative fund balance, but Coatesville Area School District is the only school district in Chester County on that list.  School districts are required to maintain a balanced budget every year. As a part of maintaining a secure budget, school districts set aside an allotment of money to aid in unexpected costs in the future — or a fund balance. Those costs help prevent high tax increases on their residents as well as aid school districts in planning for future finances.

Wolf up 30 points over Corbett in new poll: Wednesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | on September 03, 2014 at 8:09 AM
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Another week brings another discouraging poll result in the steel cage death match between Toms Corbett and Wolf.  A new poll by Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh shows Democrat Wolf, of York, leading Republican Corbett 55.5 percent to 24.7 percent among likely Pennsylvania voters.  With two months remaining before Election Day, pollster Phililp Harold said "time has just about run out for Corbett," who risks becoming the first sitting governor in decades to be denied a second, four-year term.

Corbett continues to trail Wolf
Watchdog Wire by Jana Benscoter September 3, 2014
Results of two recently released polls not only tell the same story line that has been told throughout 2014, but they have also made it clear that the only way incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is going to win a second term in office is voter turnoutFranklin & Marshall College Poll and Robert Morris University Polling Institute in August surveyed registered voters – whom a majority cast their opinion in favor of electing Democrat nominee Tom Wolf. The polls, telling a different story compared to other summer polls indicating Corbett narrowed the gap, continue to report Corbett’s inability to break a 30 percent approval rating.

SEN. ANDY DINNIMAN: For $140,000 a year, who you gonna call?
Pottstown Mercury Opinion By State Sen. Andy Dinniman, Guest Columnist POSTED: 09/03/14
It’s not even Halloween and ghosts are already the topic de jour in Harrisburg and throughout the Commonwealth. Ghost employees, that is.  Was Ron Tomalis a ghost who never appeared? Or was he a ghost who came and went, leaving behind no evidence that he was ever there?  The auditor general, inspector general and attorney general have already been asked to review if former Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis was the first type of ghost employee.  I’m no expert on the paranormal, but it appears that Tomalis might be at the very least the second type of ghost.

State senator makes formal request for all of education adviser Ron Tomalis' work products
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 3, 2014 11:55 AM
State Sen. Andy Dinniman, the minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, filed a Right To Know request today with the Department of Education asking for the work product of Ron Tomalis, the governor’s former special adviser on higher education.  Mr. Dinniman, D-Chester, said he has been trying since March to get whatever information Mr. Tomalis gathered in the course of his work as an adviser, which was supposed to focus on implementing the recommendations of the 2012 report of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education.  But Mr. Dinniman, in a column he wrote and distributed today to newspaper across the state for publication as an op-ed piece, said he has been “stonewalled” in his efforts.

State senator seeks records on former Corbett education adviser
TribLive By Melissa Daniels Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, 4:51 p.m.
The ranking Democrat on the state Senate Education Committee is going on a records hunt regarding the employment of Gov. Tom Corbett's former education adviser Ron Tomalis.
Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester County, filed a Right-to-Know request seeking a report that Tomalis reportedly oversaw as a special adviser on higher education. Tomalis served his last day on Aug. 26, resigning after allegations he was a “ghost employee” who was paid but did little work.  Tomalis did not immediately return a phone message.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education did not immediately return calls.
‘Grove Help On Way For Keystone Exam Students
Sanatoga Post September 3, 2014
POTTSTOWN PA – Parents whose children fared poorly on Keystone Exams taken last year at Pottsgrove High and Middle schools should expect to receive a letter by Monday (Sept. 8, 2014) that describes assistance the school district plans to provide so those students perform better on make-up tests, according to Superintendent Shellie Feola.
In comments last Tuesday (Aug. 26) to the Board of School Directors, Feola acknowledged concerns parents raised last month about ensuring their students received prompt remedial help to demonstrate proficiency in the exam material, which is a state requirement for graduation. Some parents complained they could have sought outside help during the summer, but did not receive adequate warning of low test scores from the district.

One of the best schools in Philly to parents: 'we need more students'
Imagine a public high school in Philadelphia where class sizes are small, test scores are high, and violent incidents are almost non-existent.  Now imagine that school – the week before school starts – is still begging for more students to enroll.  That's the scenario at Hill-Freedman World Academy in Northwest Philadelphia, known to a few parents as one of the Philadelphia School District's best-kept secrets.

A Philly first: No schools on the Pa.'s 'persistently dangerous' list
For the first time since the designation has been in place, zero Philadelphia School District schools have been deemed persistently dangerous by the Pennsylvania department of education.
The label has been used since the creation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
In each of the last four years, reported violent incidents in the district have been on the decline.
Between this year and last, the total number of violent incidents districtwide declined 9.9 percent, from 2,758 to 2,485.

Grays Ferry Charter School Uses Grant Money To Help Transform Education
CBS Philly By Cherri Gregg September 2, 2014 3:28 PM
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Grays Ferry Charter School kicked off its first day of school Tuesday with an extra $2.7 million dollars in its coffers over the next three years — thanks to a federal school improvement grant designed to help transform education through innovation.  The plan to transform Universal Audenried Charter High School began last year when the school launched three pilot career academies in STEM, arts, entertainment and communications and in hospitality and human services. The millions means the programs can be embedded in school curriculum.
“There is a huge disparity between the opportunities that they have in a lower Merion…versus what they have in Philadelphia,” says Reginald Johnson, principal of Audenried. He started his tenure this summer as part of the “transformation,” which includes a new leadership team, innovative curriculum and more.

State Democrats gather in York to discuss education funding
York Dispatch By MOLLIE DURKIN POSTED:   09/03/2014 09:38:21 AM EDT
Standing outside Central York Middle School on Tuesday, three Pennsylvania Democrats called for more education funding.  Stunted public education funding has caused after-school tutoring, music, art and other programs to be cut or totally eliminated, said Katie McGinty, chairwoman of the Campaign for a Fresh Start.  The campaign supports Democratic gubernatorial candidate and York County businessman Tom Wolf.

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card
School Funding Fairness Suffers Amid National Recession
Education Law Center by Bruce Baker of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC); and Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director.
NEWARK, February 5, 2014 -- The 3rd Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card details how the Great Recession and its aftermath have affected school funding in the states.
The Great Recession triggered dramatic reductions in state and local revenue from property, sales and income taxes. To prevent layoffs and cuts to education programs, the federal government provided substantial stimulus funds on a temporary basis. When the stimulus ended, however, states faced a crucial test: either restore revenue or allow cuts to education funding and programs. This report shows many of the states failed this test, sacrificing fair school funding after the foreseeable loss of federal stimulus.  The National Report Card (NRC) examines each state's level of commitment to equal educational opportunity, regardless of a student's background, family income, or where she or he attends school. Providing fair school funding -- at a sufficient level with additional funds to meet needs generated by poverty -- is crucial if all students are to be afforded the opportunity to learn and be successful.

"The state Supreme Court turned the Temple of Justice into the proverbial woodshed Wednesday afternoon, demanding that state lawmakers explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing in the last session to come up with a complete plan to fully fund public education by 2018"
Washington State Court hears arguments in McCleary school-funding case; watch coverage replay
Seattle Times Posted by John Higgins September 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM
Update 3:25 p.m.: The state Supreme Court turned the Temple of Justice into the proverbial woodshed Wednesday afternoon, demanding that state lawmakers explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing in the last session to come up with a complete plan to fully fund public education by 2018.  “It’s been said that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Justice Charles Wiggins said to the attorney representing the state. “Why should we think that you’re going to do something different?”
The unusual hearing was the latest clash between the Legislature and the high court arising out of the court’s landmark 2012 McCleary decision declaring Washington’s school funding system unconstitutional.

"A closer look at the Walton family's massive investment in "education" paints a clear picture of why teachers are so upset. Since 2000, the Walton Family Foundation has given more than $1 billion to destabilize public education--draining funds from students and closing neighborhood schools, and instead supporting corporate-style education policies in an attempt to bring Wal-Mart's business model to classrooms across the country."
The Wal-Mart-ization of Education: Wal-Mart Wants Classrooms to Run More Like a Business, Teachers Are Fighting Back
Huffington Post by Randi Weingarten President, American Federation of Teachers and  Joe Hansen, International President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Posted: 09/03/2014 2:12 pm EDT Updated: 09/03/2014 2:59 pm EDT
As part of Wal-Mart's back-to-school marketing efforts, the company recently launched a series of teacher appreciation videos, ads, hashtags and discounts. Teachers--who routinely dig deep into their own pockets to pay for supplies and materials for their students--are grateful for appreciation in all its forms. They are understandably less pleased when half-hearted discounts come from a company with a terrible track record for respecting its own employees and are accompanied by a large-scale effort to dismantle our nation's public education system and silence their voice. In fact, teachers are so offended by the so-called education reform agenda promoted by Wal-Mart's owners, the Waltons, that one teacher recently launched a petition calling on his peers not to shop at Wal-Mart this back-to-school season. More than 5,000 teachers have already added their names to his pledge.

Florida school district cancels testing opt-out
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Florida school board rescinded its vote Tuesday to opt out of standardized testing, changing its mind about its unprecedented decision that captured the growing discontent among parents and teachers nationwide over the number of tests children are given.  In a first for Florida and possibly the nation, Lee County voted last week not to administer tests tied to the Common Core academic standards or any end-of-course exams. The vote came after parents organized petitions, Facebook groups and meetings in favor of scaling back or getting rid of standardized testing.  "People said, 'Enough is enough,'" said Bob Schaeffer, education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which endorsed the opt-out vote. "The volume of standardized testing has exploded out of control."
But the decision was met with immediate backlash: Superintendent Nancy Graham warned the opt-out could hurt students and asked the board to change its vote. The Florida School Boards Association cautioned that students who didn't take the state's standardized tests wouldn't meet the requirements to earn a standard high school diploma, and also could miss the opportunity to earn college credit.  On Tuesday, the Lee County school board voted 3-2 in favor of resuming testing before a packed room of more than 200 people. Board member Mary Fisher, who cast the deciding vote, said she changed her mind because she felt the district needed a more focused plan.

PSBA Members - Register to Join the PSBA, PASA, PASBO Listening Tour as BEF Funding Commission begins work; Monday, Sept. 8th 4-6 pm in Bethlehem
The bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission established under Act 51 of 2014 has begun a series of hearings across the state, and you’re invited to join the Listening Tour hosted by PSBA, the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA), and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) as it follows the panel to each location this fall.
The first tour stop will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 from 4-6 p.m., at the Broughal Middle School, 114 W. Morton St, Bethlehem, PA 18015.  Click here to register for the free event.  Other tour dates will be announced as the BEF Commission finalizes the dates and locations for its hearings. The comments and suggestions from the Listening Tour will be compiled and submitted to the Commission early next year.

Back to School Special Education Boot Camp Saturday, September 20, 2014 8:30 A.M.- 3:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 19103
Join presenters from: Temple University · McAndrews Law Offices · ARC
PA Education for All Coalition · Delaware Valley Friends School
PA Dyslexia and Literacy Coalition
Attend workshops on: Early Intervention · Dyslexia · Discipline · Charter Schools
Inclusion · Transition Services
Details and Registration:

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:

Register Now – 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 (Oct. 21-24) 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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