Monday, June 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 29, 2015: Education funding debate highlighted budget’s first Senate step

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for June 29, 2015:
Education funding debate highlighted budget’s first Senate step

Just a heads-up that the PA Ed Policy Roundup may be intermittent and/or late this week while some of us pretend we're on vacation

“Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) called the Republican agreed-to budget and the debate on its merits “kabuki theatre.”  “This is never going to become law, this whole budget…because there is nothing of the governor’s priorities in this budget,” he said. “Rather than going through this exercise, I’d rather we continue negotiating and try to come up with an actual plan to move the ball forward for all people of Pennsylvania.”  Republicans have spreadsheets showing their budget invests $370 million in basic education spending more than the current fiscal year’s budget. The Wolf administration and legislative Democrats have contended the actual number is only $8 million.”
Education funding debate highlighted budget’s first Senate step
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Sunday, June 28, 2015/Categories: News and Views
The first step for the Senate in the continued movement of a Republican crafted FY 2015-2016 spending plan saw the legislation move out of the Senate Appropriations Committee along a straight party-line vote Sunday evening.  However, the committee action was permeated with debate over education funding after committee Minority Chairman Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) offered an amendment to fund education at the level proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
It was the second of three amendments Sen. Hughes offered to the budget bill.
“To say that the education investment proposal in House Bill 1192 is reflective of the needs and concerns of the people of the Commonwealth really does not make sense,” he said. “It shows folks are out of touch with what’s going on in the community.”

The ABCs of school-funding formulas
Why does the education-funding formula now being debated in Harrisburg matter?
Pennsylvania is one of just three states in the country that lack such a formula, a situation that has led, experts say, to the single most inequitable system of allocating education dollars in the nation. But that might change if a proposal by a bipartisan commission created during the Corbett administration is adopted.  In virtually every state, legislated formulas govern how education dollars are divvied up, often solving for differences in districts' ability to pay for their students' educations.

Fair funding formula can be a win instead of a stalemate
Pottstown Mercury Editorial POSTED: 06/29/15, 2:00 AM EDT |
In typical Pennsylvania legislative tradition, this week promises to be the most active of the year in Harrisburg. The activity around the end of the fiscal year, which falls at midnight Tuesday, rolls together everything the Legislature should have been doing since the governor’s budget address last winter.  In recent days, the Republican-controlled House has voted on a budget which Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto, and the partisan bickering over every topic from pension reform to how liquor is sold is going at full tilt.  In the midst of the chaos, the Basic Education Funding Commission on Thursday offered its report and recommendations for a fair funding formula.
The bipartisan commission came up with a formula that would benefit poorer schools in the Commonwealth, correcting some of the funding unbalance that has earned Pennsylvania a ranking among the most failing states for equity in public education.

“Late Sunday night, the Senate voted 27-22 to approve a bill that would create a statewide school district to oversee some of the lowest-performing schools in the state.  The Achievement School District would be empowered to convert a school under its jurisdiction to a charter school, among other options.”
Liquor overhaul, budget bills nearing floor of state Senate
By Kate Giammarise & Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 29, 2015 12:00 AM
HARRISBURG — Legislative Republicans on Sunday unveiled their plan to unravel the state system of wine and liquor sales and began moving the bill toward Gov. Tom Wolf, who opposes turning the business over to the private sector.  In a rare Sunday session ahead of the state budget deadline Tuesday, Senate Republicans moved both the liquor bill and a GOP-crafted budget — which Mr. Wolf has said he would veto, in whole or in part — through committee and toward the Senate floor. The House has already approved the budget bill.

Two days before the #PaBudget deadline, Wolf, GOP still separated by a common language: Analysis
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 28, 2015 at 9:10 PM, updated June 29, 2015 at 6:40 AM
He was a tourist from Nepal - and unlike the rest of us, he was in the state Capitol willingly on Sunday night to see how the sausage was made.  State Rep. Mike Vereb, a Republican from Montgomery County, was trying to give the guy directions to the fourth-floor balcony above the state House chamber so the visitor could get a first-hand peek at democracy in action.
Or, y'know ... not.  It took a little while, but eventually, the two men, separated (to borrow from George Bernard Shaw) by a common language, finally managed to reach an understanding. And the tourist was on his merry way.

Are budget stakeholders being told to prepare for a budget impasse?
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Sunday, June 28, 2015/Categories: News and Views
As the July 1 start to the FY 2015-2016 is fast approaching and the possibility of a veto from Gov. Tom Wolf for a Republican-crafted budget plan looms, are lawmakers telling those that rely on budget dollars to prepare for a long-term budget stalemate?  It depends on who one asks.  “Everybody’s asking me what to do,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia).
However, he said he is not yet telling those who rely on state budget dollars to prepare for the worst, fearing such a message would play into “scare tactics” of those who might want members to vote on a budget they don’t necessarily agree with.  “I refuse to carry somebody else’s spin,” he said.  As of now, Rep. Sims said he is telling those who call him with concerns about their paycheck, pension, or funding for schools in his district to reach out to Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana).  “Those two people have more of a say on those three issues than anyone does,” he told The PLS Reporter.  Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said he’s been telling stakeholders to prepare for the worst for months now.

GOP lawmakers press state budget plan that risks Gov. Wolf's veto
Reading Eagle by The Associated Press  Saturday June 27, 2015 12:01 AM
HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved an approximately $30 billion Republican-crafted budget bill on Saturday as the Wolf administration and top GOP lawmakers positioned themselves for a government shutdown and the first veto of an entire budget in at least four decades.  The bill passed 112-77 after two hours of debate during an unusual weekend session with just four days left in the state's fiscal year.  The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass the Republican-controlled chamber as early as Monday. However, it faces a near-certain veto by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and without an enacted budget package by Wednesday, the Wolf administration will lose some spending authority, particularly for a wide variety of human and social services.

Pennsylvania lawmakers work through weekend on state budget
Delco Times By Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press POSTED: 06/28/15, 7:01 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Pennsylvania lawmakers headed back to work in the Capitol on Sunday with expectations the Republican majority may soon send the Democratic governor a state budget and other legislation he appeared likely to veto.  The House’s voting session, starting in midafternoon, was likely to include some of the bills that traditionally accompany budget legislation at this time of the year.  The Senate was due in around dinner time, with committee votes on the main state budget and a proposal to privatize the state liquor system among its potential business.  A $30 billion-plus state budget bill passed the state House on Saturday, 112-77, with all Democrats and two Republicans voting “no.” Under the Legislature’s rules, the Senate can’t vote on it until Tuesday.  Republicans touted their budget proposal’s slight rise in education funding and that it lacked any tax increase despite the state’s substantial structural deficit. Democrats argued it again shortchanged schools after several years of inadequate state funding and employed too many short-term fixes that would leave public finances on shaky financial footing.

PA’s “Super Voucher” EITC/OSTC programs will divert up to $150 million in tax dollars to private and religious schools this year with no academic or fiscal transparency.  It is anticipated that legislation authorizing an additional $150 million may be part of the budget process unfolding in Harrisburg.  Some have also called these tax credit programs the “new WAMs” as they facilitate lawmakers being involved in bringing money to their districts…
Bucks company gains tax credits by donating to schools Chris Palmer LAST UPDATED: Monday, June 29, 2015, 1:08 AM
YARDLEY McCaffery's Food Markets is to make $100,000 donations to two schools in central Bucks County, the company announced last week, one to the Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley, the other to St. Andrew's Catholic School in Newtown.  The donations will be made under the state's Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, the company said, which provides Pennsylvania businesses with tax credits for donating to educational or scholarship organizations.  McCaffery's was founded in 1986 and has four supermarkets - one in Yardley, another in Newtown, and two in New Jersey. It is planning to open a fifth in Doylestown, the company said.  Rabbi Ira Budow, of the Abrams Hebrew Academy, praised the company's owner, Jim McCaffery, for the donation, calling him "truly a righteous person" who "sets an example for all of us."

Don’t Miss Tuesday, June 30, 8 p.m. #FairFundingPA chat on Twitter
You are invited to join the next monthly Twitter chat with Pennsylvania’s major education leadership organizations on Tuesday, June 30 at 8 p.m. They will discuss details of the recommendations for a fair, school funding formula made by the General Assembly’s Basic Education Funding Commission. Use hashtag #FairFundingPA to participate and follow the conversation.  On the last Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., the following organizations go to Twitter to discuss timely topics, ask questions and listen to the public’s responses:
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA);
  • The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA);
  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO);
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP)
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Join the conversation. Share your ideas, lurk, learn and let us know what you think about the state’s support for public schools. It’s a simple, free and fast-paced way to communicate and share information. If you’ve never tweeted before, here are directions and a few tips:

Register Now – PAESSP State Conference – Oct. 18-20 – State College, PA
Registration is now open for PAESSP's State Conference to be held October 18-20 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA! This year's theme is @EVERYLEADER and features three nationally-known keynote speakers (Dr. James Stronge, Justin Baeder and Dr. Mike Schmoker), professional breakout sessions, a legal update, exhibits, Tech Learning Labs and many opportunities to network with your colleagues (Monday evening event with Jay Paterno).  Once again, in conjunction with its conference, PAESSP will offer two 30-hour Act 45 PIL-approved programs, Linking Student Learning to Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (pre-conference offering on 10/17/15); and Improving Student Learning Through Research-Based Practices: The Power of an Effective Principal (held during the conference, 10/18/15 -10/20/15). Register for either or both PIL programs when you register for the Full Conference!
REGISTER TODAY for the Conference and Act 45 PIL program/s at:

Apply now for EPLC’s 2015-2016 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Applications are available now for the 2015-2016 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 400 graduates in its first sixteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, charter school leaders, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 17-18, 2015 and continues to graduation in June 2016.
Click here to read about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.

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Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live. To make that happen, we need to fundamentally change how public schools are funded. The current system is not fair to students or taxpayers and our campaign partners – more than 50 organizations from across Pennsylvania - agree that it has to be changed now. Student performance is stagnating. School districts are in crisis. Lawmakers have the ability to change this formula but they need to hear from you. You can make a difference »


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    Debate Chat


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