Friday, May 15, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 15: MULTIPLE CHOICES:THE INS AND OUTS OF SCHOOL FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 15, 2015:
MULTIPLE CHOICES:THE INS AND OUTS OF SCHOOL FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA



School directors, superintendents and administrators are encouraged to register and attend this event.
Bucks / Lehigh / Northampton Legislative Council
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Quakertown Community School District, 100 Commerce Drive  Quakertown, PA 18951




MULTIPLE CHOICES:THE INS AND OUTS OF SCHOOL FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA
Keystone Crossroads Series

Wait ... the Legislature actually did something this week? Now what?: Thursday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 14, 2015 at 8:20 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
If you were in the Big Building on the Hill on Third Street on Wednesday, you might have had cause to pause, check yourself, and wonder whether you were really in Pennsylvania.
For the third time this week, Pennsylvania's 253-member General Assembly, which has never been saddled with a reputation for either bravery or productivity, voted on not one, not two, but three pieces of legislation of actual import.  The ball got rolling in the Republican-controlled Senate earlier this week with the passage of a bill legalizing medical marijuana.
Then, on Wednesday, the Senate struck again,passing a huge bill curbing state employee pension benefits. The majority-GOP House followed suit later in the day with a Republican-authored property tax reform bill.  Faster than you could say "6 p.m. fund-raiser at McGrath's," the General Assembly actually looked like what it purports to be -- a full-time, professionalized state Legislature.  But here's the rub: Each of the three bills faces gigantic hurdles before any one of them can ever become law.

It's on to the Pennsylvania House for pension reform; hearings set for June
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on May 13, 2015 at 9:30 PM, updated May 14, 2015 at 7:17 AM
Sweeping aside decades of legal precedent and policy-making tradition, Senate Republicans passed a pension reform bill Wednesday that, as written, would change benefit formulas mid-career for more than 360,000 current state workers and school employees.  The 28-19 vote was a ringing endorsement for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman's insistence that killing Pennsylvania's tax-eating pension tapeworm is a must-have for the 30-member Senate GOP caucus in this spring's state budget talks.

What do states owe workers? For a lesson in what not to do, look to Illinois' pensions mess: Megan McArdle
PennLive Op-Ed  By Megan McArdle  on May 14, 2015 at 11:00 AM, updated May 14, 2015 at 11:02 AM
What do states owe workers?
That's a question we're going to be asking a lot as states wrestle with growing pension obligations that weren't properly funded. Illinois courts have just ruled that the state's attempt to curtail its pension benefits cannot go forward.  The Chicago Tribune boils it down: "In its ruling, the court restated that state worker retirement benefits that are promised on the first day of work cannot be later reduced during their term of employment, only increased."

"Former board member Tim Potts told board members that they should not think about the budget as a vote to raise taxes, but a vote to educate children. Those concerned about property taxes should understand that it is an issue to take up with the state legislislature, he said."
Carlisle school board approves proposed 2015-16 spending plan
Penn Live By Elizabeth Gibson | Special to PennLive on May 14, 2015 at 10:31 PM
Following a plea to rethink cuts to funding for institutional aides, and a salute to a solid spending plan for next year, the Carlisle Area School Board voted 9-0 to tentatively approve its budget.  Carlisle Area School Board members, including President Nancy S. Fishman, right, shown in a meeting last year with former school board member Tim Potts, approved its tentative budget. Potts told the board he supported the spending plan.Elizabeth Gibson | Special to PennLive 
The proposal may be viewed online or at the district office at 623 W. Penn St.
The tax rate will be 13.2436 mills, a 2.4 percent increase over this year's 12.9333 rate.
The tax boost will bring in an extra $950,000 next year.

Allentown School Board wants no tax increase, more teachers for related arts
By Jacqueline Palochko Of The Morning Call May 14, 2015
Allentown School Board wants no tax increase and restoration of related arts
Allentown kids, get out the gym sneakers, paint brushes and musical instruments. Gym, music and arts are back on in the Allentown School District.  And Allentown taxpayers, don't cry about a tax hike this year because there won't be one.  In a controversial move Thursday night, the school board voted 5-4 to add 30 teacher positions, including 20 in the related arts, under the proposed 2015-16 budget. Additionally, the board unanimously voted not to raise the property tax, a first in recent years.  Board President Robert Smith and Directors Charlie Thiel, Ce-Ce Gerlach, Elizabeth Martinez and David Zimmerman voted for adding the positions. Directors Scott Armstrong, Michael Welsh, Debra Lamb and Ellen Bishop voted against it.  The board still needs to vote on a final budget before June 30, but if Thursday night was any indication, those positions will be added and taxes won't go up.  The district was recommending adding 24 positions, which would cost $1.9 million, but school directors added to that.  If 30 positions are added, it would bring the fund balance to less than 3 percent, Chief Financial Officer Jack Clark cautioned the board. The state recommends the district have about 8 percent in its fund balance, Superintendent Russ Mayo said.

Saucon Valley School Board cites surplus, won't raise taxes
By Christy Potter Special to The Morning Call May 14, 2015
The Saucon Valley School Board wants to draw on a surplus instead of raising taxes.
The Saucon Valley School Board has found a way to avoid a tax hike it had warned property owners could come their way. It will tap into the district's surplus to balance the 2015-16 budget.  The board voted 8-1 Tuesday night to pass the $42.9 million proposed final budget and draw on the district's $15.2 million fund balance to close a $478,725 gap.  Director Ed Inghrim, who made the motion to approve the spending plan with no tax increase, said he didn't want to increase property taxes when the district is running a surplus.  "Or likely running a surplus," he added, clarifying that the district has had a surplus in the past.
The district has gone about six years without raising taxes.

Pottstown Schools Budget Proposes Zero Tax Hike

Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt May 15, 2015
Last year, the Pottstown school administration asked for a budget that raised property taxes by 2.9 percent with the caveat that the following year, they would produce a budget that didn't raise taxes at all.  Thursday night, they delivered.  During the meeting of the school board's finance committee, Business Manager Linda Adams unveiled the proposed $57,136,928 proposed budget for the 2015-2016 school year.  Despite a 2.16 percent increase in expenditures, the proposal does not raise taxes.

Palmyra school board gives OK to 2.5 percent tax increase
Penn Live By Monica Von Dobeneck | Special to PennLive  on May 14, 2015 at 9:12 PM, updated May 14, 2015 at 9:15 PM
The Palmyra Area School Board gave its official stamp of approval to a 2.5 percent tax increase for the 2015-16 year during its meeting Thursday night.  It was the same $44.9 million preliminary budget that had been presented a week earlier, but board president Chris Connell said it could still change between now and passage of the final budget June 18.

Overhaul Pa.'s failing education model
Inquirer Think Tank Blog By Thomas Hylton POSTED: THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2015, 1:46 PM
After decades of talking but not doing, Pennsylvania finally appears ready to reform public school financing.  Both Gov. Wolf and Republican legislators agree the state should boost its share of school funding by substituting increased state income and sales taxes for local real estate taxes. With a bipartisan vote, the House passed such a bill Wednesday, which the governor praised as the beginning of a conversation on substantive property tax relief. This is a critically important breakthrough.

What's the point of testing when Pa. schools are so unequal?
the notebook By Jan Gillespie-Walton on May 14, 2015 12:15 PM
Jan Gillespie-Walton is a former teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. She is currently the CEO of Gillespie-Walton, an education consulting firm, which mentors teachers and administrators. 
The PSSA booklets have been batched and packed. The No. 2 pencils are back in their boxes. The sheets of paper covering every inch of bulletin board have been removed. Everyone is breathing a little better now that schools are no longer paying homage to The Test.  Watching the annual ritual, I was struck by mind-boggling incredulity. Many schools even held extraordinary rallies designed to spur Test Warriors on to success. How could anyone believe that bravado, cheers, and songs about overcoming adversity would somehow make up for years of meager funding, skeletal staffing, and few instructional materials?  With the end of this year’s examination behind them, many urban schools sent up a collective Amen and exhaled. But the day of reckoning is coming, with all its acrimonious blame and finger-pointing.

Kids Who Can’t See Can’t Learn
New York Times By PAMELA F. GALLIN MAY 15, 2015
Pamela F. Gallin is a professor of ophthalmology and of pediatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.
LAST year, I went with a small group of ophthalmologists to a South Bronx middle school to conduct vision exams. One neatly dressed boy had trouble seeing the big E at the top of the chart. He hesitated and made mistakes on the second line, and then put his head down, embarrassed. “I don’t think you can see the chart,” I said.  He told me he couldn’t remember ever having an eye exam. I thought he might be an anomaly.  I was wrong. My colleagues and I have conducted 2,400 screenings on students in three New York City middle schools: one in the South Bronx, one in Williamsburg and one in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. We have prescribed and distributed 450 free pairs of glasses to the nearly one-fifth of the kids who had 20/40 vision (which means street signs and chalkboards are blurry) or worse. Many of the kids knew they couldn’t see the board, but hadn’t thought to ask for a checkup, because their vision had deteriorated gradually.


School directors, superintendents and administrators are encouraged to register and attend this event.
Bucks / Lehigh / Northampton Legislative Council
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Quakertown Community School District, 100 Commerce Drive  Quakertown, PA 18951
Welcome by Paul Stepanoff , Board President , QCSD
Introduction of Paul Clymer, State of State Education

Mr. Glenn Grell , PSERS Executive Director
Introduction by Dr. Bill Harner, Superintendent QCSD

Panel of Superintendents and Elected School Directors from Bucks / Lehigh / Northampton Counties
Introduction by Mark B. Miller, Board Vice President, Centennial SD

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:
1) The status of 2015-16 budget in their district (including proposed tax increase)
2) PSERS impact on their budget
3) Proposed use of any new funding from Commonwealth

Larry Feinberg and Ron Williams
Benefit and need for County Wide Legislative Council in Delaware and Montgomery Counties respectively

Dr. Tom Seidenberger (Retired Superintendent ) - Circuit Rider Update

SAVE The DATE: Northwestern PA School Funding Forum
May 28, 2015 7:00 PM Jefferson Educational Society 3207 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Panelists
Conneaut School District
Mr. Jarrin Sperry, Superintendent, Ms. Jody Sperry, Board President
Corry School District
Mr. William Nichols, Superintendent
Fort LeBoeuf School District
Mr. Richard Emerick, Assistant Superintendent
Girard School District
Dr. James Tracy, Superintendent
Harbor Creek School District
Ms. Christine Mitchell, Board President
Millcreek School District
Mr. William Hall, Superintendent Mr. Aaron O'Toole, Director of Finance and Accounting
Keynote Speaker
Mr. Jay Himes, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials

CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA
A CALL FOR ADEQUATE AND EQUITABLE SCHOOL FUNDING
Sponsored by Coatesville and Media Area NAACPs
9:00 AM – 1:30 PM SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015
MARCUS FOSTER STUDENT UNION 2ND FLOOR
CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA DELAWARE COUNTY CAMPUS, CHEYNEY, PA
Our children have to pass the state mandated tests in order to move on with life. SO - it is time for the PA Assembly to provide adequate and equitable funding to the public schools of Pennsylvania.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. SPACE IS LIMITED.
COME AND ASK YOUR PERSONAL QUESTIONS AND SHARE YOUR OPINIONS WITH PRESENTERS WHO ARE EXPERTS AND POLICY MAKERS.
Pre-Registration is required for meals. Deadline for Pre-registration is May 12, 2015

PHILLY DISTRICT TO HOLD COMMUNITY BUDGET MEETINGS
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 20

Martin Luther King High School6100 Stenton Ave.

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