Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 29, 2015: Pa. school funding panel expected to issue recommendations in June/ Williams super PAC (Yass, Dantchick, Greenberg) boosts spending to $800K/week

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for April 29, 2015:
Pa. school funding panel expected to issue recommendations in June/ Williams super PAC (Yass, Dantchick, Greenberg) boosts spending to $800K/week

Southeastern PA Regional Meeting on School Funding
Wednesday April 29th 7:00 pm Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 West Leamy Avenue, Springfield, PA 19064
Info and Registration: HERE

Wolf's Twitter Town Hall recap: Charter schools, pensions, and hot dogs
Penn Live By Megan Lavey-Heaton | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 28, 2015 at 6:11 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf held a Twitter Town Hall to mark his 100th day in office on April 28. The thirty-minute conversation with residents via Twitter covered his proposed budget, how he's doing in office and his opinion on hot dogs. You can read the full discussion below.

Wolf's budget is a moment of truth for Pennsylvania. And we have to seize it: Jim Hertzler
PennLive Op-Ed  By Jim Hertzler updated April 28, 2015 at 4:50 PM
Jim Hertzler, a Democrat, is a Cumberland County Commissioner. He is also chairman of the  Assessment and Taxation Committee of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
With a new Governor of a party opposite that of the majority in the General Assembly, the conventional wisdom is that Harrisburg is in for a long, hot summer.   It doesn't have to be that way:  if only everybody could put a lid on the jockeying for partisan advantage and political posturing long enough to get the work of the people of Pennsylvania done.
There's no question that Gov. Tom Wolf has advanced a very bold and ambitious agenda. 
I see it as an agenda that truly challenges the mediocrity of the status quo; an agenda that's focused on making Pennsylvania the very best that it can be; an agenda that restores our faith in the birthplace of America as a leader among states and nations once more.

Pa. school funding panel expected to issue recommendations in June
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON APRIL 28, 2015
A panel tasked with creating a more equitable way of doling out state funding to school districts in Pennsylvania is expected to wrap up its work in early June, just weeks before the state budget deadline, when lawmakers expect a crush of issues to crowd the negotiation table.
For the past year, the Basic Education Funding Commission has spent the past year studying funding methods and developing its suggestions for funding Pennsylvania education – a system with the largest gap between rich and poor school districts of any state in the country.
"From what I hear, they're really doing some good work and should come up with their findings within a few weeks," said Gov. Tom Wolf, who has also proposed a large tax shift to bump up state aid to school districts.  Even one of Wolf's emerging political adversaries, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said he also hopes the panel's recommendations yield a speedy deal on divvying up state funding.

Williams super PAC (Yass, Dantchick, Greenberg) boosts spending
In the wake of a couple of polls showing former City Councilman Jim Kenney leading in Philadelphia's Democratic mayoral primary, the super PAC backing state Sen. Tony Williams has boosted its spending on television ads to nearly $800,000 a week.  American Cities, the committee funded by three wealthy pro-school choice  executives, had been spending about $500,000 a week on its TV buys, according to two sources familiar with political ad placements on local stations.  American Cities' total TV ad spending on the mayor's race now exceeds $3.2 million. Those ad buys cover the period through next Monday.

Here’s a related prior KeySec posting…
Follow the Money: Who gave/received school privatization contributions in Pennsylvania in 2014.  Was your legislator a recipient?
Six millionaires and billionaires contributed $1,482,604 to privatize democratically-governed Pennsylvania public education.

“Similar events have been taking place statewide with the goal of keeping the public informed and engaged, Feinberg said. Additionally, such events will hopefully encourage people to engage their legislators on the issue.”
Community meeting slated April 29 in Delco on school funding formula
News of Delaware County By Lois Puglionesi Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Haverford Township School director and chairman of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council Larry Feinberg will serve as moderator for a panel discussion on public school funding in southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 p.m., April 29, at Springfield High School, 49 W. Leamy Ave.  Local school district leaders will discuss how state funding issues impact children's educational opportunities, local taxes and communities.
The public is invited and will have opportunities to ask questions and learn how to support fair and adequate state funding for public schools in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Panelists include Springfield School District School Board president and Delco Chamber of Commerce board member Frank Agovino, Springfield superintendent James Capolupo, Lower Merion School District acting superintendent Wagner Marseille, William Penn School District Superintendent Joe Bruni, Upper Darby school District Superintendent Richard Dunlap, Stanley Johnson, executive director of Operations for Phoenixville Area School District, and Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters of PA.

“According to a report from district business manager Randy Brown, State College Area pays out about $12,000 per regular education student to attend a charter school, and almost $24,000 for a charter school student in special education.  The district has 382 students who attend charter schools.”
State College school board approves renewal for Young Scholars Charter
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO bmilazzo@centredaily.comApril 27, 2015
STATE COLLEGE — The State College Area school board unanimously approved a five-year renewal of Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School on Monday.
Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said that it’s up to the district to decide if the Ferguson Township school will continue to operate.  Charter schools are partially funded by districts that have students who attend them.  In March, a team of administrators including O’Donnell and Assistant Superintendent Michael Hardy performed an onsite evaluation of the charter school.
“They’re the largest charter (school) in the area,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a large part of our budget and we do a thorough survey.”

East Penn whittles proposed tax hike to 3.78 percent
By Kevin Duffy Special to The Morning Call April 28, 2015
The East Penn School Board came closer Monday to finalizing a budget for the 2015-16 school year that includes a likely tax hike.  The proposed budget, revised for the second time since the initial January presentation, calls for a 3.78 percent tax increase for residents while sparing programs and staffers from cuts.  "I don't want to cut programs and personnel; I want to maintain what we have," Superintendent Michael Schilder said.  The increase would bring the property tax rate by about .63 of a mill to 17.294 mills. The administration trimmed the proposed tax increase down from the 5.18 percent that the board heard previously.

Garnet Valley teachers step up pressure for new contract
Delco Times By Susan L. Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 04/28/15, 11:55 PM EDT 
CONCORD >> Last night’s Garnet Valley School Board meeting could be seen as a further division of teachers, board and community.  But the Garnet Valley Education Association clearly dominated the discussion about the yet-to-be settled contract. More than half of the nearly 400 member of the bargaining unit, joined by a large contingent of parents, turned out prior to the meeting and robustly showed unity.

Saucon Valley wants nonbinding arbitration in teacher contract dispute
By Christina Tatu Of The Morning Call April 28, 2015
Hoping to avoid a strike, the Saucon Valley School Board on Tuesday approved a resolution to move to nonbinding arbitration if the next negotiating session with the teachers union doesn't result in a tentative contract agreement. The next talks are scheduled for May 7.
Dozens of teachers attended the board meeting to speak out about the impasse that has dragged on for three-and-a-half years. Teachers said they are disappointed the full board hasn't taken part in the bargaining.  The board meeting was the first since an April 15 union meeting where teachers voted to authorize a strike, giving their negotiating committee the power to call for a walkout. They held strikes in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Saucon Valley teachers pack meeting urging board to table
Lehigh Valley Live By Sara K. Satullo | For Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 28, 2015 at 8:57 PM, updated April 28, 2015 at 9:35 PM
Saucon Valley teachers packed Tuesday'sschool board meeting, urging the board to join them at the negotiating table.  The two sides have a bargaining session scheduled May 7, but the board is sending its labor solicitor Jeffrey Sultanik and district Business Manager Dave Bonenberger to negotiate on its behalf. 

New life for an embattled Kensington charter school
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 3:40 PM POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 3:39 PM
Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School, which has been fighting for its life for several years, won a victory Tuesday in Harrisburg.  By a vote of 4-3, the state Charter Appeal Board said the Kensington school deserved a new, five-year operating agreement.  In 2013, following a public hearing, the School Reform Commission voted not to give the school a new operating agreement because of low test scores and concerns about its financial management.

With union vote looming, questions arise over charter-school consultants
STAFFERS and union organizers say ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania has hired a New York firm with a troubled past to hold mandatory anti-union meetings at ASPIRA's Olney Charter High School.  Teachers at Olney Charter are to vote tomorrow on whether to form a union with the Alliance of Charter School Employees, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
Randy McCarthy and Andrew Gallin of National Consultants Associated Ltd. held several hours of meetings with staffers at the North Philadelphia school in recent days, including three meetings yesterday. Attendees called the meetings "anti-union" and questioned their timing during a critical period before Keystone Exams and the school's senior projects.

Chesco's Rustin advances to national STEM competition by Justine McDaniel LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 1:08 AM
Rustin advances to national STEM competition after being 2d in Pa.
WEST CHESTER West Chester Rustin High School's Science Olympiad team will advance to the national tournament after placing second in the state competition Saturday.  "These kids have just worked so hard since September, and to see them just do their best when it mattered the most, I get emotional just thinking about it," said head coach Greg Byrd, a physics teacher.  Harriton High School in Montgomery County came in first and will also go to the nationals.  The competition involves science, technology, engineering and math challenges ranging from exams to experiments.

Let’s be fair, and smart: Fund preschool education
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 6:00 am
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s call to boost preschool education funding by $120 million statewide received Republican support Monday at a Head Start center in Lancaster. Wolf wants to boost overall spending to $256.5 million for the 2015-16 school year, up from $136.5 million this school year — an 88 percent increase that includes $100 million more for Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts and $20 million more for Head StartPennsylvania Pre-K Counts is a state program for children ages 3 through prekindergarten considered at risk of school failure and with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal income poverty level. Head Start is a federal program for families at or below the poverty level of $24,250 in annual income for a family of four.
Everyone seems to agree that high-quality preschool education is a net plus for society.

‘Teachers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your rubrics.’
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss April 28 at 12:36 PM  
Hardly a week goes by where some education-related group gathers somewhere to talk about something, but a gathering of education activists this past weekend in Chicago was different from the usual.  It was the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization started by education historian and activist Diane Ravitch and some of her allies, and it attracted more than 600 teachers, parents, students, union leaders, school board members and others from around the country. It reflects the growth and seriousness of the movement that is fighting corporate school reform.  Sometimes incorrectly labeled in the media as being union-launched and led, the movement against the privatization of public education and standardized test-based accountability systems has grown in large part because the people in schools who have traditionally kept quiet about reforms they found ineffective or harmful to students — teachers, principals and superintendents —  began to speak out publicly. Parents began to to organize and students did as well.

Report: Millions of dollars in fraud, waste found in charter school sector
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss April 28 at 10:32 AM  
A new report released on Tuesday details fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million of uncovered fraud and waste of taxpayer funds in the charter school sector, but says the total is  impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over these schools. It calls on Congress to include safeguards in legislation being considered to succeed the federal No Child Left Behind law.  The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released jointly by the nonprofit organizations  Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy. It follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report.

Education Justice Platform
GPS Town Hall Forum this Wednesday! April 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Memorial Chapel 
Yinzercation Blog by Jessie Ramey April 27, 2015
Our coalition, Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, has just released an important education justice platform. See below for the short version, or click here for the full version. The six organizations of the coalition worked together to develop this platform to help educate and inform school board candidates and other education advocates about the specific issues facing our schools in anticipation of this spring’s primary election – when four of nine school board positions will be on the ballot.
The GPS education justice platform calls on candidates running for school board to commit to the following:
  • full funding for the PPS schools our children deserve
  • charter school accountability
  • sustainable community schools
  • welcoming and inclusive teaching and learning environments
  • support for educators who help our children learn and grow
  • universal early childhood education
  • less testing, more learning
  • transparency, accountability and collaboration
Do you care about these issues? Please come to our GPS Town Hall Forum this Wednesday! April 29th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Memorial Chapel (616 N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206).

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

Common Core Forum: A Closer Look at the PA Core Standards
Thursday, May 7, 6:30 - 8:00 pm Radnor Middle School
150 Louella Avenue, Wayne, 3rd floor
Presented by the Leagues of Women Voters of Chester County, Haverford,  Lower Merion, Narberth and Radnor.  Supported by the Radnor School District
Panelists Include:
Fred Brown, K-12 Math Supervisor, School District of Haverford Township
Jon Cetel, Education Reform Agent, PennCAN
Mary Beth Hegeman, Middle School Teacher, Lower Merion School District
Cynthia Kruse, Delaware County Intermediate Unit
Susan Newitt, Retired Elementary Teacher, Lower Merion School District
Wendy Towle, Supervisor of Language Arts & Staff Development, T/E School District
Larry Wittig, Chairman of the State Board of Education

PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia, in partnership with local organizations, will host 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, 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.

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