Saturday, April 25, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 25: Participate in this weekend's Network for Public Education national conference via live streaming technology

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3550 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, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, 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

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 25, 2015:
Participate in this weekend's Network for Public Education national conference via live streaming technology

Central PA education forum Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30
Grace Lutheran Church (in Harkins Hall), 205 S. Garner Street, State College
Dr. Cheryl Potteiger, superintendent, Bellefonte Area School District
Ms. Kelly Hastings, superintendent, Keystone Central School District
Mr. James Estep, superintendent, Mifflin County School District
Mr. Sean Daubert, CFO, Mifflin County School District
Dr. Robert O’Donnell, superintendent, State College Area School District
Mr. David Hutchison, school board member, State College Area School District
Ms. Cathy Harlow, superintendent, Tyrone Area School District
Mrs. Linda Smith, superintendent, Williamsburg Community School District
Register HERE to attend the central PA education forum.

Southeastern PA Regional Meeting on School Funding
Wednesday April 29th 7:00 pm Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues are impacting our children’s educational opportunities, our local taxes and our communities.
Hosted by Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council, Education Voters of PA, the Keystone State Education Coalition and Public Citizens for Children and Youth
Mr. Frank Agovino, school board president, Springfield School District and Board of Directors, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
Dr. James Capolupo, superintendent, Springfield School District
Dr. Wagner Marseille, Acting Superintendent, Lower Merion School District 
Mr. Joe Bruni, superintendent, William Penn School District
Dr. Richard Dunlap, superintendent, Upper Darby School District
Mr. Stanley Johnson. Executive Director of Operations, Phoenixville Area School District
Ms. Susan Gobreski, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA
Moderator: Mr. Lawrence Feinberg, Chairman, Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council
Registration HERE to attend.

Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission Meeting
University of Pittsburgh, April 27, 2015 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. William Pitt Union Assembly Room 
PCCY will be live tweeting from the hearing using hashtag #FairFundingPA

Participate in this weekend's Network for Public Education national conference via live streaming technology
The Network For Public Education Annual Conference in Chicago is currently taking place. Some of the sessions, including nationally known speakers, will be available free through live streaming technology. On Saturday, April 25 at 3:45-5 p.m., PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains and PSBA Vice President Mark B. Miller will be part of a panel titled, The Battle Between Public School Districts and Private Business Enterprises. This session is scheduled to be available at that time on the live streaming channel. All are invited to watch.
Keynote addresses will also be livestreamed (note: scheduled times are CST)

Legislators talk pensions, education funding at North Penn School District forum
By Jarreau Freeman, on Twitter
POSTED: 04/24/15, 4:57 PM EDT |
Lansdale >> No topic seemed to be off limits at an education funding forum in the North Penn School District.  More than a dozen residents and North Penn School District officials gathered Thursday in the Penndale Middle School auditorium for a panel discussion on basic education funding.  Some of the main topics that the panelists discussed were charter schools, property taxes, pensions, the “hold harmless” provision and the state funding formula.  Moderated by North Penn Superintendent Curtis Dietrich, the goal of the forum was to educate and raise awareness among residents and legislators regarding education funding concerns.

"Pennsylvania’s state contribution to local school district budgets is well below national norms. While the USA’s average state contribution to district budgets is 44 percent, Pennsylvania’s contribution is only 34 percent. Furthermore, as one of only three states across the nation without a fair funding formula, Pennsylvania’s allocation of its education funds favors the politically connected and has compounded inequities among school districts. Public schools in Pennsylvania low-income areas spend $3,000 less per student than their wealthier counterparts, amounting to $75,000 less per 25-student classroom, yet low-income districts contain many more students likely to have higher needs due to poverty, English Language Learner status, or disabilities."
Another View: No surprise from court in ruling on Pa. education funding lawsuit
Delco Times By Joseph P. Batory, Times Guest Columnist POSTED: 04/24/15, 11:28 PM EDT |
Joseph P. Batory is a former superintendent of schools in the Upper Darby School District. He is the author of three books and numerous published articles on the politics of education.
The decision of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (April 21) to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the State of failing to adequately and equitably fund Pennsylvania public schools was no surprise.
Over the years, Pennsylvania courts have consistently lacked the “political courage” to remedy what is a situation of neglect and abdication of responsibility by state government regarding public education funding in Pennsylvania.  The “tired argument” of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Courts in refusing to rule on the school funding issue is that this matter is not in its jurisdiction, but rather belongs with the Legislature. But this reasoning defies the very system of checks and balances built into the American system of government.
On Nov. 10, 2014, six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) and the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference had filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against legislative leaders, State education officials, and then Gov. Tom Corbett for failing to uphold the General Assembly’s “constitutional obligation” to provide a system of public education that gives all children in Pennsylvania the resources they need to meet state-imposed academic standards.

Blogger's note: these are diverted tax dollars that are not received into the general fund and are not available for the state's constitutional mandate of providing a thorough and efficient public education for all kids.  It is great that these students are getting the opportunity to attend these schools but it should not be at the expense of all children.
Scholarship intermediate organizations in PA get to keep 20% of the funds as administrative fees; in Florida, by comparison, they only keep 3%.
There are no academic performance or fiscal accountability reporting requirements attached to this money.
EITC: Local Catholic, private schools get $17M for scholarships
Supporters of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) gathered at the Union League Wednesday night to present $16.9 million in scholarship funds for students to attend private and Archdiocesan schools.  More than half the money – $10.1 million – was gifted to BLOCS through the state Educational Improvement and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs, which allow corporate donors to credit 75 to 90 percent of the contribution amount to their state tax bills. 

Good News from York City, Pennsylvania: Court Rejects State Receiver!
Diane Ravitch's Blog By dianeravitch April 24, 2015 //
Good news–no, great news–from York City, Pennsylvania! Because of the district’s fiscal problems, exacerbated by state budget cuts (a designed crisis), the state appointed a receiver who wanted to turn the entire district over to a for-profit charter chain. A lower court upheld the state’s decision. However, an appeals court overturned the state takeover. This fortunate event reflects the change at the top, as Governor Tom Corbett was defeated by Tom Wolf. Corbett was bent on budget-cutting and privatization. Wolf is not. Corbett and his receiver were set to hand all the schools in York City over to Florida-based Charter Schools USA. That won’t happen.

"The bill would change all members of the Pennsylvania Legislature from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan. The change would be obligatory for future and current state senators and representatives.
“By changing the pension plan available to legislators, we will set an example and create an environment to enact necessary broader pension reforms for all public employees in the commonwealth,” White said. “We as legislators cannot in good faith ask public employees to move to a defined benefit program if we are not willing to do the same.”
Pennsylvania senate committee approves legislative pension reform bill
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved legislation aimed at providing savings to Pennsylvania’s public pension system.  The legislation, Senate Bill 401 introduced by Sen. Don White (R-IN), would generate savings by dramatically changing the program available to members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  “Despite the reforms enacted by Act 120 of 2010, Pennsylvania’s public pension systems remain in great financial distress and the burden on taxpayers is growing exponentially. It is well past time that we face economic reality,” White said. “There has been a fundamental change in pension benefits offered by the private sector to its employees, with most companies offering defined contribution plans and few, if any, providing defined benefit plans. It is only right that we follow suit.”

In a time of austerity, Title I changes cause consternation in schools
Trying to target more resources to the neediest schools, officials recalculated poverty levels and allocations. As a result, some schools gain and others lose funds.
the notebook By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 24, 2015 06:42 PM
The School District has a new system for calculating school poverty rates and a new set of break points for determining how much federal Title I funding per pupil each school receives.
Superintendent William Hite has made it clear that he wants to target the most money he can to the neediest schools in the Philadelphia – those with very high poverty and low academic performance.  Doing this is crucial to improving achievement and giving underserved students better opportunities, Hite has said. Schools with the highest concentrations of poverty, he reiterates, need extra resources to overcome the toughest challenges.  But in Philadelphia, where all schools have been operating for the last several years in a mode of punishing austerity, need is a relative term.  And recent moves to change how the District distributes Title I dollars, its largest chunk of federal money, have left several schools protesting that they are unfairly being left worse off than before. 

Philly’s cigarette tax: Here’s how much the schools are getting
Billy Penn By Anna Orso April 24, 2015
Since a $2-per-pack cigarette tax to benefit Philadelphia schools began in the city in October, the tax has brought in $36.5 million in revenue to the district — putting the income on par to meet or exceed projections.  Mayor Michael Nutter proposed the cigarette tax — it had to be passed through the state legislature with the backing of Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams — and, at the time, his office estimated the new tax could bring in $83 million to the school district in its first year if implemented by July 1st at the beginning of the fiscal year.  But the legislature dragged their feet on the bill, and it ultimately wasn’t implemented until October 1. The district then reported the tax would bring in $49 million this year if implemented by October, or in about nine months total. The revenue already brought in puts the district on par with meeting or exceeding those nine-month projections.

“This is a zero budget year,” said School Board President Judyth Zahora. “And we’re being told we are going to have to spend an additional $500,000 for pensions before we spend one cent on our students.”
Pottstown School Board wrestling with building repair costs
By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 04/25/15, 2:00 AM EDT |
POTTSTOWN >> Striving to stick to its pledge of not raising taxes in the coming year, the Pottstown School Board is struggling to balance the need for roof and masonry repairs around the district and the need to limit how much money gets spent.  “This is hateful that we have to do this, hateful,” said school board member Mary-Beth Bacallao.  “This” is choose between spending only the $625,000 in the budget to make these repairs, and potentially not replacing the flat roof on the administration building. The latter could put the district’s computer servers at risk, but comes with a pricetag of $260,000.

5 things you should know about School District of Lancaster's $191 million budget
K. SCOTT KREIDER | LNP CORRESPONDENT Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2015 6:00 am
School District of Lancaster made progress this month in slimming down the district's deficit and reducing a potential tax increase.  Here's a list of five things to know about the district's proposed $191 million budget, based on two school board meetings in April and an interview Wednesday with the district's chief administrator Matt Przywara:

All are invited for a screening of the documentary:
STANDARDIZED: Lies, Money & Civil Rights—How Testing is Ruining Public Education Monday, April 27, 7- 9 PM Wayne, PA
The Saturday Club, 117 West Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA
Standardized testing has long been a part of public education. Over the last ten years however, education reform has become an increasingly heated political issue and seemingly a highly profitable target market for private enterprise resulting in expanded and high-stakes testing. While some hold the view that testing is an effective assessment of student ability and teacher and school effectiveness, many feel these exams are instead undermining our students, teachers and schools.   Daniel Hornberger’s STANDARDIZED documentary raises issues about this model of  education reform and the standardized testing that goes along with it. The film includes interviews with prominent educational experts and government officials who take aim at the goal of standardization that is being promoted and imposed by our federal and state governments. It sheds light on the development, nature and use of these assessments, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and the ostensible private enterprise and government agendas behind them. 
A Q&A session with a panel of informed parents, teachers and experts will follow.
This screening is made possible through a collaboration of Radnor, Tredyffrin/Easttown and Lower Merion concerned parents and PTOs.
For questions and to RSVP, contact

PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host seven community budget meetings. District officials will share information about budget projections and request input on school resources and investments.  Partnering groups include the Philadelphia Education Fund, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild), Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), local clergy and community advocates. All meetings will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:
 Wednesday, April 15
Northeast High School, 1601 Cottman Ave.
 Wednesday, April 22
Bartram High School, 2401 S. 67th St.
 Tuesday, April 28
West Philadelphia High School, 4901 Chestnut St.
 Wednesday, May 6
Dobbins High School, 2150 W. Lehigh Ave.
 Tuesday, May 12
South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St.
 Thursday, May 14
Congreso, 216 West Somerset St.
 Wednesday, May 20
Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave.

Nominations for PSBA offices closes April 30
PSBA Leadership Development Committee seeks strong leaders for the association
Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to complete an Application for Nomination no later than April 30. As a member-driven association, the Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is seeking nominees with strong skills in leadership and communication, and who have vision for PSBA. The positions open are:
  • 2016 President Elect (one-year term)
  • 2016 Vice President (one-year term)
  • 2016 Eastern Section at Large Representative - includes Regions 7, 8, 10, 11 and 15 (three-year term) 
Complete details on the nomination process, including scheduled dates for nominee interviews, can be found online by clicking here.

Beyond a New School Funding Formula: Lifting Student Achievement to Grow PA's Economy
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT) Harrisburg, PA
7:30 am: Light breakfast fare and registration; 8:00 am: Program
Harrisburg University Auditorium, Strawberry Square 326 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
Opening Remarks by Neil D. Theobald, President, Temple University

SESSION I: THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF ACHIEVEMENT GAPS IN PENNSYLVANIA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS with introduction by Rob Wonderling, President, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and Member, Center on Regional Politics Executive Committee.            
Presentation by Lynn A. Karoly, Senior Economist, RAND Corporation 

SESSION II: WHAT CAN PENNSYLVANIA LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING SCHOOL SYSTEMS? with introduction by David H. Monk, Dean, Pennsylvania State University College of Education
Presentation by Marc S. Tucker, President and CEO, National Center on Education and the Economy 
Sessions to be followed by a response panel moderated by Francine Schertzer, Director of Programming, Pennsylvania Cable Network 
Program presented by the University Consortium to Improve Public School Finance and Promote Economic Growth

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