Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 14: $50 million per year of your taxpayers' cyber charter tuition…..
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now
reach more than 3500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors,
administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's
staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Superintendents, 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, Twitter and LinkedIn
$50 million per year of your
taxpayers' cyber charter tuition…..
PA Cyber is the state's largest cyber
charter. BTW, PA Cyber's SPP score for
2014 was 55.5; for 2013 it was 59.4. PDE
considers a score of 70 as passing.
"Two years later, Trombetta had PA
Cyber convey its own Lincoln
Interactive online curriculum to NNDS, which, in turn, has leased it back to PA
Cyber under a contract that initially paid NNDS a 12 percent fee based on PA
As PA Cyber’s revenues have mushroomed over
the last decade, the deal has netted NNDS hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the latest available Form 990 filed by NNDS for 2012, it received
nearly $51 million from PA Cyber for curriculum and management services, nearly
88 percent of NNDS’s total reported support of $58 million that year. For 2011, NNDS collected $52.2 million from
PA Cyber, which has annual revenue exceeding $100 million. Last school year, PA
Cyber paid NNDS $53 million, Conti said.
Conti said the 2013-14 payment for curriculum accounted for about $38.2
million with managed services coming in at $14.8 million, which included a
handful of NNDS employees working in PA Cyber’s business office."
MIDLAND -- The Rochester-based
nonprofit National Network of Digital Schools relies almost entirely on the PennsylvaniaCyberCharterSchool for its revenue,
but that lucrative 10-year relationship is now under review against a messy
backdrop. In September, PA Cyber’s board
of trustees approved an agreement to have the consulting company Clarus Group,
based in Massachusetts, “review and evaluate” the Midland-based charter
school’s management agreement with NNDS, which has received more than $50
million annually from PA Cyber in recent years.
Michael Conti, PA Cyber’s chief executive officer, said in a recent
email that he expects a report in December or January. He said Clarus’ task is
“to review service levels provided by NNDS in relation to the fees being paid.”
PA Cyber founder Nick Trombetta, who now faces 11 federal
criminal charges, created NNDS -- one of several spin-offs from the cyber
school -- in 2005 to provide management services and curriculum to PA Cyber and
other online schools.
By Steve Esack,Call Harrisburg
Bureau November 13, 2014
Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf announced Thursday who will help
his Chief of Staff Katie McGinty transition into the governor's mansion. Some of the new members of Wolf's transition
team may look familiar. They served under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. But it's
routine for incoming governors to tap people who served prior administrations.
Just ask outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett who had people form Gov. Tom
Ridge's administration on his transition team.
Here's the line up of Team Wolf straight news release:
A mayor, college president, community leader and political
insider are among those chosen by Gov.-elect Tom Wolf to
serve in the top spots on his transition team.
Wolf announced the leadership of his transition team as well as the
leadership for the Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force on
Thursday, less than two weeks after defeating incumbent Republican
Gov. Tom Corbett for the state's highest office.
Our View: Wolf right to make
education top priority
ERIE TIMES-NEWS Editorial PUBLISHED:
NOVEMBER 13, 2014 12:01 AM EST
In his victory speech on Nov. 4 at Utz Arena in York,
Tom Wolf said that education will be his top priority when he becomes Pennsylvania's governor
in January. "Our ancestors realized that education was key to a strong
citizenship," Wolf said. Strong citizenship, in turn, builds a strong
democracy, strong families and a strong economy, he said.
Wolf also talked about Pennsylvania
founder William Penn, who created a commonwealth that was "inclusive and
open and free," and he pointed out that Pennsylvania is the place where our nation
was founded. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were
written in Philadelphia and the Articles of
Confederation were drafted in York.
"This is a place that deserves to have a great future," Wolf said.
Few would disagree with the statement that a sound education is
key to a great future. The challenge for Wolf, a Democrat, will be to persuade
the Republican-majority Pennsylvania House and Senate that it's time to
increase the share of state spending for education, and to support an
extraction tax on gas and oil wells to raise additional revenue to pay for it.
nonpartisan agency for budget analysis is pinning a number on the anticipated
budget deficit next year: $1.85 billion.
The Independent Fiscal Office's figure comes in a report that clearly
outlines what has been referred to in generalities since the passage of this
year's roughly $29 billion state budget in July. "This pretty much substantiates what the
Democrats were saying, both Senate and House Democrats were saying back in June
– that this was a paper budget, it was full of a lot of assumptions," said
Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, ranking Democrat on the Senate
The IFO points to a few short-term causes for the hole. Its
report finds that the current budget uses $572 million in one-time revenues and
$619 million in one-off cost savings. Another $332 million was siphoned from
other special funds outside the main budget.
Independent Fiscal Office
projects multi-billion dollar structural shortfall by 2020
The PLS Reporter Author: Alanna Koll/Thursday, November 13, 2014
The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its Economic and Budget Outlook for fiscal years 2014-15 to
2019-20 with an accompanying presentation to explain the data by IFO Director
Matthew Knittel, IFO Deputy Director Mark Ryan, and Dan White, senior economist
at Moody’s Analytics. One of the figures
highlighted in the presentation was a $1.75 billion state budget deficit
projected for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, as revenues fail to rise as quickly as
The continuing effects of the recession and the aging baby
boomer generation both contribute heavily to this increasing disparity,
according to IFO’s report.
Pa. faces $2 billion budget deficit, and credit is tight
AMY WORDEN, INQUIRER
BUREAU LAST UPDATED: Friday, November 14, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday,
November 13, 2014, 6:05 PM
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania got a double whammy of bad news
Thursday in separate reports, one projecting a nearly $2 billion budget
deficit, and another saying the state had maxed out its borrowing. The Independent Fiscal Office, in its
long-term economic and budget outlook report, estimates a $1.85 billion
shortfall in fiscal year 2015-16, based in large part on reliance on onetime
revenue sources. "The non-recurring
revenues and one-time costs savings employed in the FY 2014-15 budget
contribute significantly to this deficit," said Matthew Kittel, the fiscal
office's director, adding that rising pension costs also are a factor in the
poor fiscal outlook.
Meanwhile, Treasurer Rob McCord said the state will soon max
out a $1.5 billion line of credit that precipitated credit downgrades with
Williams to join Philly mayor's race next week
CLAUDIA VARGAS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, November 14,
2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 8:22 PM
mayor's race will likely kick up a notch Wednesday.
That's when State Sen. Anthony H. Williams and former District
Attorney Lynne M. Abraham say they will announce, separately, that they are
running. Assuming that they announce as
promised, Williams and Abraham will become the third and fourth candidates in
the field for the May 19 Democratic primary. Terry Gillen, a former aide to
Mayor Nutter, and Ken Trujillo, a former city solicitor, launched campaigns
Together we must ensure that
we have schools that work for all
Post Gazette Opinion by State Rep. Jake Wheatley November 14,
2014 12:00 AM
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 19th Legislative
On Oct. 28, A+ Schools, PennCAN, the Urban League of
Pittsburgh, the Black Political Empowerment Project, my office and many
parents, teachers and other community stakeholders came together to engage in a
conversation around what we can do to ensure our schools are working for all
our children. I am thankful the
Post-Gazette covered our gathering (“Panel Discusses Race Issues, Equitable Education”),
but I just wanted to clarify what we are attempting to do. Having the presence
of Howard Fuller, Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane and CityCharterHigh School co-founder
Richard Wertheimer was more about how to demand quality schools that work for
all children, irrespective of whether the schools are private, traditional
public or nontraditional public charter.
EAST CALN >> The
Downingtown Area School Board reached a contract extension Wednesday with the
Downingtown Area Education Association. “This
is a great thing for our district,” said school board member Colleen Cranney,
chairwoman of personnel committee. “The students win.”
The school board members voted 8-1 on the two-year contract,
with school board member Suzanne Simonelli dissenting. Before the vote, Craig Krusen, president of
the teachers’ union, thanked the board members for their efforts to reach the
contract that extends from Sept. 1, 2015 through August 31, 2017. “It wasn’t an easy ride the whole way,”
Krusen said. “But, I think we both have our sights on tonight as our goal. We
all are very, very happy and relieved that we have this task behind us. We’re
looking forward to a couple more years of time when we can concentrate strictly
on what goes on in the classroom.” The
tentative agreement was ratified by the union on Tuesday, Nov. 11, the day
before school board members accepted it. Krusen informed school board President
Jane Bertone that they approved a tentative contract. Bertone called the deal a
“great evening for our community.”
By Chris Barber, Daily Local News POSTED: 11/13/14,
10:15 PM EST |
Teachers from the AvonGroveSchool
District show their feelings with signs at a rally at the AvonGroveIntermediateSchool
along Route 796 on Thursday.CHRIS BARBER – AVON GROVE SUN
PENN >> Avon Grove School District teachers braved sleet
and chill on Thursday as they rallied for a new contract along Route 796 in
front of the elementary school complex and district office.
Their previous two-year contract ended in June, and they have
been working under the terms of the old one since then. About 50 of the teachers of the Avon Grove
Education Association showed up with umbrellas and placards as a show of unity
at about 4 p.m., but as the afternoon went on many more appeared to give their
How Philadelphia's District schools fared on the
the notebook By David Limm on Nov 13, 2014 03:08 PM
In late September, addressing last spring's results on the state's annual
standardized tests, Superintendent William Hite said that, districtwide,
students performed at a level similar to the previous year. That was after a year of a thousand cuts, and
in the early months of 2013-14, District schools were running short on staff
after the loss of teachers, nurses, counselors, aides, and other support
professionals. Students were learning in spartan conditions.
Hite took a rosy view of the scores, saying he was
"surprised we didn't see a more significant decline, considering how we
started the year."
"No one is satisfied, but I also want to acknowledge the
fact that if someone were to look at our District and predict scores based on
how we started and what resources we started without, [they] would predict
significant declines across the board," he said.
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Friday, November 14,
2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 8:05 PM
Less than three weeks after the Walter Palmer charter school
abruptly closed its high school, another Philadelphia
charter said it was shuttering because it was on the brink of financial
collapse. At a meeting that drew dozens
of angry and sobbing parents, staff, and students, the board of WakishaCharterSchool in North
Philadelphia voted Thursday night to close Dec 23.
The move affects 261 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders who
attend the charter at 800 W.
"Unfortunately, because we don't have enough students, we cannot
meet our financial obligations," board chairman Miguel Pulido said before
the board voted to close the school right before the holidays. He did not
elaborate on the scope of the financial problems.
Education Week By Dale Mezzacappa for the Notebook Published Online: November
During the gubernatorial campaign, advocates emphasized that Pennsylvania is one of
the few states that has no education funding formula. In other words, it has no
rational, predictable, enrollment-based system for distributing state school
aid. The process now in place is based
on an accumulation of old formulas and ad hoc decisions made over decades.
A 21-year-old legal battle waged by more than two dozen school
districts that accused the state of South
Carolina of failing to provide a "minimally
adequate" education for poor and rural students came to an end Wednesday,
after the state Supreme Court ruled in the districts' favor.
In a 3-2 ruling, the state high court upheld an earlier Circuit
Court decision that said South Carolina officials failed to live up to their
constitutional obligation to adequately fund poor and rural schools. The
state's failure to address the "effects of pervasive poverty on students
within the plaintiffs' school districts prevented those students from receiving
the required opportunity," the ruling said. But Chief Justice Jean Toal, who wrote the
majority opinion, did not absolve the plaintiff districts for their role in
exacerbating funding inequities, arguing that local spending priorities--for
athletic facilities and other auxiliary services while students languished in
"crumbling schools and toxic academic environments"--were also part
of the problem.
However, the brunt of the responsibility was put on the defendants,
among them the state of South
Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley, and the top two leaders
in the state legislature.
Join the Listening Tour
hosted by PSBA as it follows the Basic Ed Funding Commission to each
location this fall The next tour stop will be on Thursday, Nov 20, 2014 from 6-8
p.m., at HambrightElementary School in Lancaster. 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. Members
also are encouraged to complete a form online allowing you to "Tell your story" if you are not able
to attend one of the BEF Listening Tours.
Philadelphia City Council Hearings
on High-stakes Testing and the Opt-Out Movement, Wednesday, November 19, 2014,
Education Committee of Philadelphia City Council
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3—5 PM, Room 400 City Hall
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Councilman Mark
Squilla and The Opt-Out Committee of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public
Schools urge all who care about the future of education to attend: Parents, students and educators will testify
on the effects of over-testing on students and teaching, including the crisis
of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Children with Autism - Who’s Eligible? How to get ABA services?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
Join us on November 19th, 2014 to discuss eligibility services for children with Autism. This
session will teach parents, teachers, social workers and attorneys how to
obtain Applied Behavioral Analysis services for children on the autism
spectrum. Presenters include Sonja Kerr (Law Center), Rachel Mann
(Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania), Dr. Lisa Blaskey (The Children's
Hospital of Pennsylvania), and David Gates (PA Health Law Project).
Register Now – 2014 PASCD
Annual Conference – November 23 – 25, 2014
Please join us for the 2014 PASCD Annual Conference, “Leading
an Innovative Culture for Learning – Powered by Blendedschools Network” to
be held November 23-25 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in
Hershey, PA. Featuring Keynote Speakers: David Burgess - - Author
of "Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your
Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator", Dr. Bart Rocco,
Bill Sterrett - ASCD author, "Short on Time: How do I Make
Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?" and Ron Cowell.
This annual conference features small group sessions (focused
on curriculum, instructional, assessment, blended learning and middle level
education) is a great opportunity to stay connected to the latest approaches
for cultural change in your school or district. Join us for PASCD
2014! Online registration is available by visiting www.pascd.org
January 23rd–25th, 2015 at The ScienceLeadershipAcademy, Philadelphia
EduCon is both a conversation and a conference.
It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both
in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will
be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the