Friday, February 27, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb 27: Campaign for Fair Education Funding Proposes Funding System to Ensure Quality Education for All Students

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, 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

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The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding

Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for February 27, 2015:
Campaign for Fair Education Funding Proposes Funding System to Ensure Quality Education for All Students

Education Voters of PA holding public forums on school funding
Lancaster County: Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University
York County: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm at the York Learning Center
Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center

Campaign for Fair Education Funding Proposes Funding System to Ensure Quality Education for All Students
Campaign website February 26, 2015
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding today proposed a student-driven funding formula for basic education that strategically directs resources to students and school districts with the greatest needs and provides the investment necessary to enable every child to succeed academically.  The campaign’s proposed formula could boost student outcomes in all parts of the state by helping to close funding shortfalls, improve equity, and ensure accountability and efficiency.  “Pennsylvania is just one of three states that does not have a have a predictable funding formula for basic education. It changes every single year and students in every district are paying a price for the uncertainty,” Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, one of the founding members of the campaign.
“The campaign’s mission is to ensure that every public school student has access to a quality education no matter where they live and to make that happen we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. That starts with a sustainable, predictable and long-term funding formula.”  The campaign, an unprecedented coalition of educators, faith-based organizations, children’s advocates, business leaders, and representatives of charter schools, and rural, urban and growing school districts across the commonwealth, developed its proposal based on real costs necessary for all students to meet state academic standards and using current, verifiable data.

Advocacy Groups Propose Education Funding Formula
WESA 90.5 NPR Pittsburgh By JESSICA NATH February 26, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf releases his state budget proposal Tuesday, and the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children has a few suggestions.  The organizations unveiled its Campaign for Fair Education Funding Thursday.  “The mission of the campaign is really to focus on this need for an equitable system of funding in Pennsylvania that has enough resources in it to be sure every child has an equal chance to meet our standards,” Joan Benso, PA Partnerships for Children president and CEO, said.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding shared its idea on Thursday for a proposed school funding distribution formula and sets its sights on a $3.6 billion increase in the state's investment in public education.
Coalition's proposed school funding formula comes with $9 billion price tag
By Jan Murphy |  26, 2015 at 6:01 PM
coalition of educational, business, child advocacy, faith and community groups have crafted a school funding formula that they believe would lead to an equitable student-driven method of distributing state dollars for public schools.  The plan proposes phasing in the formula over the next eight years, bumping up the state's $5.7 billion yearly investment now spent on basic education and Ready to Learn grants to $9.3 billion.  "We're putting this proposal out, I would describe, as a stake in the ground not a line in the sand," said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, one of the more than 50 coalition members.

New Castle among those cheering Wolf's education budget
New Castle News CNHI Harrisburg Bureau By John Finnerty Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:00 am
HARRISBURG — It was the issue that got him elected and likely will be a key part of his first budget address.  Gov. Tom Wolf has made it clear that he intends to tax the gas industry to boost education funding. Wolf has said an extraction tax on drilling will generate as much as $1 billion a year in new money – most of it directed at replacing funds for local schools.
That has educators looking forward to the governor’s budget with more optimism than they’ve felt in years.  John Sarandrea may be uniquely qualified to make that judgment. He is superintendent of the New Castle Area School District, one of the poorest in the state. Before taking the job he led the district in nearby Sharon, also among the state's poorest.

Bethel Park backs new education funding formula
Post Gazette By Harry Funk February 27, 2015 12:00 AM
Bethel Park school board will urge state legislators to establish a new funding formula for basic education.  The board Tuesday approved a resolution that notes that state funding accounts for less than 35 percent of revenue for public schools, down from a peak of over 50 percent in the 1970s. In Bethel Park, that figure was 25.5 percent for 2013-14.  “Pennsylvania ranks 47th of the 50 states in the amount of state subsidies allocated to support elementary and secondary education, and ranks eighth in reliance on local taxes,” the resolution states.

"The board joined other school directors across the state in approving a resolution provided by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association “to convey the importance of establishing a fair and equitable school funding formula to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”  The association is part of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, whose mission is “to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education by 2016.”
Clairton City School District seeks savings in food service management
Trib Live By Patrick Cloonan Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, 4:56 a.m.
Clairton City School District will seek proposals for a new food service management company for the 2015-16 school year.  The Clairton school board authorized the request for proposals at its meeting Wednesday.  The action is the result of a situation that was called being “between a rock and a hard place” by district officials in April.  At that time Nutrition Inc. cited rising costs in a decision to increase rates by $34,849.32 for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year, and by $73,325.03 for this school year. The board thought then that it had no choice but to approve a food service budget under Nutrition Inc.'s terms for 2014-15.
Liquor privatization passes Pa. House
By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 26, 2015 at 3:36 PM, updated February 26, 2015 at 5:45 PM
Liquor privatization has passed the House of Representatives by a 114-87 margin, reflecting a largely party-line vote after more than five hours of debate.  "We have a chance to tell the people of PA that we will turn our back on the status quo going forward," said Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, shortly before the vote.

Gov. Wolf's wants to lower school property tax -- but what's the tradeoff?
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 25, 2015 at 6:28 AM, updated February 25, 2015 at 9:52 AM
With campaign promises solidifying into governing plans at this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf appears to be ready to join a long line of Pennsylvania governors who have tried to significantly reduce property taxes.  Multiple sources told PennLive this week they expect Wolf's "tax fairness" plan to include a major slash at residential school property tax bills, in keeping with his larger goal of shifting more education costs to state government.

"Wolf and our lawmakers in Harrisburg need to make education a top priority.
The future of Pennsylvania depends on increased and fairer funding for our public schools. And the state should provide a larger share of school funding to reduce local property taxes."
Editorial: Governor must chart bold path for Pa. starting Tuesday
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 6:00 am
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will deliver his first budget address Tuesday before a General Assembly in which Republicans have a 20-seat advantage in the Senate and a 35-seat edge in the House (both numbers exclude vacancies). Pennsylvania government faces a $2.3 billion revenue shortfall and a $53 billion gap between assets and benefits in its two large pension funds.  The election of Gov. Wolf  was a clear call by the people of our state seeking a new vision and path for Pennsylvania.  Given all the issues facing our state, problems kicked down the road that should have been addressed long ago, and the deep-seated partisanship in Harrisburg, there is no way the new governor can produce a spending plan that meets all the commonwealth's needs.  But now is the time for Wolf to be bold and jump-start the state down the path of prosperity and growth.

If you would like to attend the oral arguments in the case, you are invited to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg (601 Commonwealth Avenue, Courtroom 5001) on Wednesday, March 11th at 9:30AM
Our Amicus Brief in the State Funding Lawsuit
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey February 26, 2015
Did you know that there is a current lawsuit against the state to fund our schools? The Education Law Center (ELC) and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia brought the suit last fall on behalf of six school districts, seven parents, and two statewide associations accusing the state of failing to uphold Pennsylvania’s constitutional obligation to provide a “thorough and efficient” system of public education. The state is arguing that the case should be thrown out and there is a key court date coming up on March 11th.  Yinzercation has joined with other grassroots organizations to submit an amicus (meaning “friend of the court”) brief demonstrating the reasons this case ought to move forward. I will include the full Statement of Harm we were asked to file in support of the brief below. (Click here for the full amicus brief,which was delivered on Tuesday.) For more information about the lawsuit, including an easy-to-read FAQ, visit th ePennsylvania School Funding Litigation website.  .

This video covers the PA House Education Committee's consideration of amendments and vote on HB530 Charter Reform bill
Ensuring Funding Equality Between School Districts and Charter Schools
RepReese Published on Feb 26, 2015 YouTube video runtime 13:57
PA State Rep. Mike Reese discusses his legislation which reforms reimbursement rates and methods between charter schools and school districts, among other educational reforms.

Saucon Valley School Board makes new contract offer to teachers
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 26, 2015 at 7:30 PM, updated February 26, 2015 at 8:47 PM
Saucon Valley teachers returned to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon to hear a state mediator present the school board's latest contract offer.   Saucon Valley Education Association members have been working under an expired contract since July 2012. Years of negotiations have failed to reach a deal, causing contract talks to turn contentious.

Plum School District prelim budget shows $2.5 million shortfall
Trib Live By Karen Zapf Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Wade Woolford said he doesn't mind paying a bit more in taxes if students benefit.
“I don't mind chipping in for them,” Woolford of Winchester Drive told Plum School Board members during last week's finance committee meeting.  “I don't want to see pay to play. I don't want to see you cut programs. The kids are first.”
"Across the state, 93 percent of districts are paying more for health care, 91 percent are paying more for special education programs and 85 percent have had to turn over more of their money to charter schools since 2010-11. Along with contributions to the school retirees’ pension fund, costs of conducting background checks on job applicants and performing evaluations of school employees, these are costs that can’t be avoided, officials said."
School officials sound alarm on financial challenges
Indiana Gazette by CHAUNCEY ROSS on February 25, 2015 10:59 AM
Stories of thinly spread school budgets emerge at nearly every turn in the regular sequence of monthly school board meetings in the area.  One or more days a week, reports echo school officials’ concerns that limits on how they get money and demands on how they spend it are putting more and more pressure on local taxpayers and on teachers’ ability to provide a sound education for students.  Area school superintendents, business managers and board members from Indiana and Armstrong counties gathered Tuesday for a news conference to unveil results of a statewide survey of public schools’ financial situations.

Why the SRC angered everyone
City Paper By Daniel Denvir  Published: 02/26/2015
I could have reported in advance all but the ending of last Wednesday's grueling, five-hour School Reform Commission meeting, convened to adjudicate 39 charter-school applications. Charter-school advocates pleaded for salvation from failing public schools. Opponents, including experts from the Education Law Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth, pointed out that charters expand at the financial expense of traditional public schools.  The SRC finally voted to approve five new charters from among the city's most high-profile operators: Freire, Independence, KIPP, Mastery, and MaST. The SRC's decisions were likely foregone, if theretofore unknown, conclusions. My biggest surprise was that police aggressively blocked me from photographing the resulting protest mêlée (iPhone result: fuzzy).
The School District of Philadelphia estimates that each new regular charter seat costs $7,000 in additional expenses.The District currently spends about a third of its budget to educate more than 62,000 students in charter schools. It also has laid off thousands of teachers and staff in recent years, closed dozens of schools and has projected a deficit of roughly $80 million for the coming fiscal year.

The Brief: Who Will the Philly Teachers Union Support for Mayor?
And why it matters.
Philly Mag Citified BY HOLLY OTTERBEIN  |  FEBRUARY 26, 2015 AT 6:30 AM
The Democratic candidates for mayor of Philadelphia each tried to make their strongest case Wednesday that the city’s teachers union ought to endorse them. At a meeting held by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in South Philly, the candidates took questions from union members about education funding, charter schools and the School Reform Commission.
The union won’t make an endorsement until after the rank-and-file members’ votes are tallied in mid-March. But Jerry Jordan, president of the PFT, says, “Once we endorse someone, we will be totally in for that person.” That likely means a maxed-out check from the union, but perhaps more importantly, the American Federation of Teachers is expected to get behind whoever the city’s teachers support. That matters because the national group has thrown around big cash in municipal elections before.
So, who's got the best shot at landing the teachers' support?

Despite Hiccups, House Nearing the Finish Line In NCLB Rewrite Debate
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lauren Camera on February 26, 2015 12:57 AM
The House adjourned late last evening before it was able to finalize consideration of a laundry list of amendments filed to a Republican-backed rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Working late into the night, lawmakers adopted more than a dozen of the 44 amendments filed to the federal K-12 overhaul, including a measure that would allow school districts to use locally designed tests in lieu of state tests.  Despite pushback from within the GOP after the Club For Growth and Heritage Action, two powerful conservative organizations, blasted out emails urging Republicans to block the bill, education commitee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn. appeared to maintain control.  There were rumors, however, behind the scenes, that House leaders don't have enough support to get the bill over the finish line tomorrow. The final vote on the measure could be very close. 

The William Penn School District Presents
A Workshop in Support of Fair Funding and other Common Sense Reforms for Public Education
Saturday Feb 28th 9:30 am - Noon Evans Elementary School Auditorium, 900 Baily Road, Yeadon, PA
Doors open at 9:00 with a continental breakfast
Shanee Garner, Education Policy Director, Public Citizens for Children & Youth
Mike Wood, Research Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Larry Feinberg, Co-Chairman, Keystone State Education Coalition
Questions  Email

EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m. 
Topic 1: Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Susan Gobreski, Director, Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Topic 2: Preview of the 2015 Pennsylvania State Education Budget Debate
EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues.

Bucks County Forum on how to run for school board March 2, 7 pm at Northampton library
Courier Times By Chris English Staff Writer Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 1:00 am | Updated: 7:17 am, Tue Feb 24, 2015.
How to run for school board and what to do if you get elected are two issues that will be explored during a forum at 7 p.m. March 2 at the Free Library of Northampton Township. The event is free and open to the public.  "Anyone in Bucks County who is interested in school board elections is encouraged to attend," said event organizer and Newtown Township resident Amy McIntyre.
A panel of present and former school board members from throughout the county will lead a discussion and answer questions about the process and requirements of running for school board, the time commitment, responsibilities of board members and the resources available to teach new board members about the job.  Centennial school board member and Pennsylvania School Board Association Vice President Mark Miller will moderate.

PSBA Members Only: Annual Pennsylvania Education Budget Briefing
MAR 4, 2015 • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Join us for a special complimentary members-only Annual Pennsylvania Education Budget Briefing webinar, Wednesday, March 4 at noon.  The webinar features Acting Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and PSBA Senior Director of Government Affairs, John Callahan, who will discuss Gov. Wolf’s 2015-16 proposed budget. You will have the option to attend live at PSBA’s Headquarters in Mechanicsburg or join us online through your computer. Both options will allow you to ask questions during the webinar.

Lawsuit asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards.
Meet Us in Court on March 11th
Education Law Center
On Wednesday, March 11th at 9:30 a.m., the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will hear oral arguments in our school funding lawsuit which challenges the legislature's failure to adequately support and maintain Pennsylvania's public school system. This historic case, which the Education Law Center filed with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and pro bono counsel O'Melveny & Meyers, asks the Court to ensure that all students -- including those living in low-wealth districts -- have the basic resources they need to meet state academic standards. We ask the court to hear this case and enforce the rights of our children to a "thorough and efficient" system of public education as guaranteed to them by our state constitution.
Please come and support us as we fight for vulnerable students and all public school students across the state. The hearing will be held at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Avenue, Courtroom 5001 in Harrisburg, PA.  If you plan to attend or have questions, contact Spencer Malloy at (The courtroom is walking distance from the Harrisburg Amtrak Station.) 

2015 Pennsylvania Budget Summit
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Hilton Hotel, Harrisburg Pennsylvania
PA Budget and Policy Center
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will host its Annual Budget Summit on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at the Hilton Harrisburg. Join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2015-16 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, and local communities. The Summit will focus on the leading issues facing the commonwealth in 2015, with workshops, lunch, a legislative panel discussion, and a keynote speech.
Space is limited, so fill out the form below to reserve your spot at the Budget Summit.

The State of Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, March 17, 2015 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
United Way Building, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA
Join Law Center attorneys for a briefing on the basics of education funding, a recap of the March 11th oral arguments in the school funding lawsuit, information on the new administration’s budget proposal and more.  There are limited spots available for this free event. 1.5 CLE credits will be offered to participating attorneys.

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Lancaster County Tuesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm at Millersville University

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in York: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30pm to 8pm at the York Learning Center, 300 E. 7th Avenue, York.
More info/registration:

Education Voters of PA will hold a forum about public school funding in Cumberland County: Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 pm at the Grace Milliman Pollock Performing Arts Center, 340 North 21st Street, Camp Hill.
More info/registration:

PSBA 2015 Advocacy Forum
APR 19, 2015 • 8:00 AM - APR 20, 2015 • 5:00 PM
Join PSBA for the second annual Advocacy Forum on April 19-20, 2015. Hear from legislative experts on hot topics and issues regarding public education on Sunday, April 19, at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg. The next day you and fellow advocates will meet with legislators at the state capitol. This is your chance to learn how to successfully advocate on behalf of public education and make your voice heard on the Hill.

Sign-up for weekly email updates from the Campaign
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding website

PA Basic Education Funding Commission website

Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Sign up for National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Network
Friends of Public Education

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

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