Thursday, March 26, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 26: F&M poll finds 59% support Gov. Tom Wolf's budget, tax reform aims

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PA Ed Policy Roundup for March 26, 2015:
F&M poll finds 59% support Gov. Tom Wolf's budget, tax reform aims

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:

Pennsylvania poll finds early support for Gov. Tom Wolf's budget, tax reform aims
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 26, 2015 at 3:00 AM, updated March 26, 2015 at 3:01 AM
It appears Gov. Tom Wolf's far-reaching state budget proposal has passed its first early test: His constituents - as a whole - seem at least open to learning more about it.  That's according to results of the first statewide poll since Wolf released his sweeping $30 billion plan that seeks to marry major school funding increases, large income and sales tax hikes and significant school property tax cuts.  The Franklin & Marshall College poll of nearly 600 registered voters between March 17 and March 23 shows that at first blush, 59 percent of respondents say they support the broad strokes of Wolf's budget plan.

F&M poll: Wolf’s budget proposal gets good review from state voters
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:01 am
A majority of Pennsylvania voters support Gov. Tom Wolf’s spending plan that aggressively increases education funding, a statewide Franklin & Marshall College poll found.  And they agree with the first-year Democratic governor that a natural-gas extraction tax should be imposed and lower property taxes should be swapped for higher state taxes, the new poll shows.
The survey found 59 percent of registered voters back the budget proposal. Thirty-five percent said they are opposed and 6 percent are unsure how they feel about the plan.

Read the F&M College poll: March 2015
Lancaster Online Link to F&M Poll Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 4:27 pm

OP-ED: Wolf spending sounds good, but at what cost?
York Dispatch Opinion By STATE REP. SETH GROVE R-Dover Township POSTED:   03/25/2015 08:34:38 AM EDT 
On March 3, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined his budget priorities for the coming fiscal year. The plan would increase spending from $29 billion to $33.8 billion, an increase of 16 percent or $4.7 billion in a single year and $12.7 billion over the next two years. It has become increasingly clear since his budget address the governor's unprecedented spending increase is built on a foundation of higher taxes and is harmful to middle-class families and small business owners.  The tax increases Wolf proposed include an increase in the Personal Income Tax (PIT) by 21 percent and the Sales and Use Tax (SUT) by over 40 percent. Not only would this result in Pennsylvanian families facing a higher tax burden, but businesses would also see higher taxes, since 79 percent of Pennsylvania companies pay their taxes under the PIT. This is destructive to our economy as small businesses account for 65 percent of our job creation.

"Kaufmann was among several York County school officials — superintendents, board members and business officials — who participated in a forum on school funding Wednesday night, hosted by Education Voters of PA, the Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 and the Campaign for Fair Education Funding."
York County school officials push for new funding formula
A system that is more equitable and predictable is needed, they said
York Daily Record  By Angie Mason @angiemason1 on Twitter 03/25/2015 11:17:48 PM EDT
In South Eastern School District, like many others, local taxpayers fund the vast majority of the cost of education, with the state kicking in about 31 percent, said Rona Kaufmann, South Eastern School District superintendent.  Between 2004-05 and 2013-14, taxpayers' costs rose from $18 million to about $32 million.  Flat state funding, coupled with South Eastern being a rural district lacking a solid tax base, plus other factors like the sluggish economy "really combine to overburden the local taxpayers in our district," Kaufmann said.  In the same time, economically disadvantaged students have doubled, cyber charter costs have increased tenfold, and other costs have gone up, too. It's particularly impacted the district's ability to complete capital projects.
"If you're going to have programs for students, then you need to provide the facilities and resources and the materials to make those programs come to life," she said. "So I say we need a fair and equitable funding formula in Pennsylvania and we need it sooner rather than later."

Education is more than ‘keeping the doors open’
Chestnut Hill Local by Sue Ann Rybak Posted on March 25, 2015
If you ask any parent with a child in the Philadelphia School District whether they think Pennsylvania’s current system of funding education is fair, I doubt that many would agree.
While most states have adopted fair-funding formulas designed to accurately, fairly and transparently identify costs and distribute funding to their schools, Pennsylvania has gone backwards.  In 2008, the General Assembly implemented a funding formula to distribute education funding. According to the Education Law Center, the formula was similar to one that many states are now using.  The Pennsylvania formula measured the number of students in each district, community poverty levels, and local tax effort, allocating relatively more funding to districts that are larger, are poorer, and have lower property taxes. But under Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration, this funding formula was abandoned.  But, that could change, thanks to a lawsuit filed in the Commonwealth Court last November, claiming that the state had failed to provide a “thorough and efficient” system of education.

"District officials emphasized the district's costs have only risen by 1.7 percent before accounting for employee pension contributions or charter school tuition payments."
"I think it's important to reinforce the cost of school choice," schools Superintendent Joseph Roy said. "Two years in a row, we would not have to consider a tax increase in the Bethlehem Area School District if it were not for charter schools."
'If Harrisburg won't step up then we will': Bethlehem school director on budget
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 25, 2015 at 9:11 PM, updated March 26, 2015 at 5:51 AM
The Bethlehem Area School District is targeting a 3 percent to 3.5 percent tax hike as it refines its 2015-16 budget.  During a Wednesday night budget workshop, the school board gave the administration the nod to craft a $245 million spending plan that relies on a mix of tax hikes, cuts and a $2 million increase in state aid. It would also rely on $2 million in district savings, bringing the fund balance to $16.7 million undesignated.
With a 3.5 percent tax hike, the district still would need to cut $1.13 million to balance the budget. While that's sizable, it is much better than the $11.6 million deficit Bethlehem started the preliminary budget process with.

We agree - Pa. needs to make cyber-charter school reform a priority: Robert Fayfich
PennLive Op-Ed  By Robert Fayfich  on March 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated March 25, 2015 at 2:45 PM
Robert Fayfich is executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
In a recent column for, state Sen. Sean Wiley D-Erie, wrote about how his proposal to create a competitive bidding process for cyber-education in the Commonwealth would help reform the system.  While we agree that cyber-charter school reform is long overdue, we believe his column contains inaccuracies and generalizations that provide the foundation for bad policy.

State asks to withdraw petition for receivership of York City schools
York Dispatch by ERIN JAMES 505-5439 @ydcity POSTED:   03/25/2015 11:34:40 AM EDT
The state Department of Education has taken a major step toward ending its attempt to seize control of the York City School District.  On Tuesday, the department -- with the support of the district, its employees' unions and the York NAACP -- filed a stipulation asking the Commonwealth Court to remand the case back to a York County judge, said Tom Scott, an attorney representing the district's unions.  The stipulation further asks the Commonwealth Court to direct York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh to allow the state to withdraw its petition for receivership, Scott said.  "And then I would expect the secretary (of education) to withdraw the petition," Scott said. "I don't think it's going to take a long time."

Lawyers file application to end receivership case against the York City School District
York Daily Record  By Dylan Segelbaum @dylan_segelbaum on Twitter UPDATED:   03/25/2015 05:36:27 PM EDT
Attorneys for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the York City School District have reached an agreement to end the state's months-long push for control of the district.  The proposal, which was filed late Tuesday and awaits court approval, calls for the state Department of Education to withdraw its petition to appoint a receiver - a person who would have most of school board's powers.

Four Philly schools win funds for tech, training, turnaround
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 4:31 PM
Four city schools have won thousands of dollars to spur turnarounds, pay for training, and create supports to get students back on track.  The grants were announced Wednesday by the Philadelphia School Partnership.  Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School is getting $150,000 to plan its overhaul. Roxborough High will get $145,000 for a turnaround; Wissahickon Charter will receive $56,625 for training; and the Workshop School, a project-based public high school in West Philadelphia, is to get $23,200 for technology and an academic-intervention program.

Reporting from Tuesday's education-issues mayoral forum
'Tis the season for a whole lot of mayoral forums all across Philadelphia about a variety of issues.
What made Tuesday night's education forum at South Philly's G.W. Childs School stand out from the pack?  The fact that it was moderated by WHYY/NewsWorks' Kevin McCorry, of course.
On Wednesday, McCorry talked about the experience on NewsWorks Tonight.

Landmark in Haverford: First female superintendent outlines her goals for schools
By Lois Puglionesi, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 03/21/15, 10:05 PM EDT
HAVERFORD >> Dr. Maureen Reusche will soon become the first woman to lead the Haverford Township School District.  The board of school directors voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Reusche superintendent, effective July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2018.  Reusche’s appointment is contingent upon final approval of a mutually acceptable contract. Her annual salary is expected to be $207,500, a school official said Friday.  Reusche succeeds Dr. William Keilbaugh, who is retiring in April after close to 40 years with the district. Keilbaugh currently earns approximately $220,000.  In his remarks at the meeting, board President Denis Gray said school directors have worked diligently to find a replacement. Assisting in the months-long, intensive process were consultants at the national, state and regional level, including Joseph O’Brien of the Chester County IU.

Who will be at the PSBA Advocacy Forum April 19-20 in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg?
  • Acting Ed Sec'y Pedro Rivera
  • Senate Ed Committee Majority Chairman Lloyd Smucker
  • House Ed Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor
  • Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne
  • Diane Ravitch
  • House Majority Leader Dave Reed
  • House Minority Leader Frank Dermody
  • 2014 PSBA Tim Allwein Advocacy Award winners Shauna D'Alessandro and Mark Miller
How about You?
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.
Details and Registration for PSBA members (only $25.00)

INVITATION: Join next Twitter chat on PA education March 31, 8:00 pm
PSBA's website March 23, 2015
The next monthly Twitter chat with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations is set for Tuesday, March 31 at 8 p.m. Use hashtag #FairFundingPA to participate and follow the conversation.

Join NPE in Chicago April 25-26
Curmuducation Blog Saturday, March 21, 2015
I don't get out much. I'm a high school English teacher in a small town, and kind of homebody by nature. When I leave town, it's for family or work. But in just over a month, on the weekend of April 25-26, I am taking a trip to Chicago for neither.   The Network for Public Education is the closest thing to an actual formal organization of the many and varied people standing up for public education in this modern era of privatizing test-driven corporate education reform. NPE held a conference last year, and they're doing it again this year-- a gathering of many of the strongest voices for public education in America today. Last year I followed along on line-- this year I will be there.

Register Now for EPLC Forum on the State Education Budget –  Philadelphia on April 1
Education Policy and Leadership Center Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum
You are invited to attend one of EPLC’s Regional Education Policy Forums on Governor Wolf’s Proposed Education Budget for 2015-2016    Space is limited. There is no cost, but an RSVP is required.  The program will include a state budget overview presented by Ron Cowell of EPLC and a representative of the PA Budget and Policy Center. The presentations are followed by comments from panelists representing statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations. Comments from those in the audience and a question and answer session will conclude the forum.  Wednesday, April 1, 2015– EPLC Education Policy Forum on the Governor’s State Budget Proposal for Education – 10 a.m.-12 Noon – Penn Center for Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA –RSVP by clicking here.

Delaware County and West Philly Dentists to provide FREE dental care to children 0 – 18 years old during spring break the week of March 30 – April 3 for “Give Kids a Smile Day.” 
For this event, sponsored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local dentists will provide free screenings and cleanings for children.  Give Kids a Smile Day is especially for children who do not have health insurance or who have not had a dental exam in the last six months. Appointments are necessary, so please call PCCY at 215-563-5848 x32 to schedule one starting Monday, March 16th.  Volunteers will be on hand to answer calls. Smile Day information can also be found on the school district website and on PCCY’s website -

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:

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