Friday, December 18, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Dec 18: At last night's Haverford school board meeting we began work on our 2016-2017 budget. It's December 18th - do you know where your 2015-16 #PABudget is?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup December 18, 2015:
At last night's Haverford school board meeting we began work on our 2016-2017 budget.  It's December 18th - do you know where your 2015-16 #PABudget is?

Campaign for Fair Education Funding: PA Lawmakers need to deliver a #PABudget that meets the needs of every child.  Ask them to at:

Reach out to your House members this morning.  Phone numbers are here:

Wolf, allies press House GOP for votes on tax increase
Lehigh Valley Live By Associated Press Follow on Twitter on December 17, 2015 at 9:51 PM, updated December 18, 2015 at 1:39 AM
Gov. Tom Wolf's administration and its allies worked through the day Thursday to sway enough rank-and-file House Republicans behind a $1 billion-plus tax increase to override opposition from House GOP leaders and end the state government's 5½-month budget stalemate.  The day ended without resolution, after House Speaker Mike Turzai gave the Democratic governor 24 hours to show whether he could assemble enough votes to move the tax package through the chamber.  With Wolf phoning rank-and-file Republican lawmakers, the governor's office said it was "confident" that it will get the support it needs in the Republican-controlled House. Top House Democrats said they were making progress, although they declined to name names.

Latest budget deadline passes with little fanfare, leaves many questions
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, December 17, 2015
The deadline set by House Republican leaders for 12:30 p.m. on Thursday for Gov. Tom Wolf to prove to them he has the votes to get the revenue for the $30.788 billion budget agreed-to as part of the five-party budget framework came and went without much fanfare, but many House members were left with questions about what the final revenue package would entail.  Despite the stern message sent by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) Wednesday night that if the governor did not come up with the votes the legislature would move forward with some sort of a stopgap budget, the Wolf administration Thursday morning said they were not fazed.
“It’s not something we’re taking seriously,” said Wolf administration spokesperson Jeff Sheridan of what he called an “artificial” deadline.  Reached later in the day, Sheridan said the governor had not met with House Republican leaders as of late afternoon Thursday and he is still meeting with rank-and-file members.  Despite being presented with a plan in caucus Wednesday night that would increase and expand Pennsylvania’s sales tax to about 14 different categories, it appeared on Thursday morning the leading revenue proposal would increase the state’s personal income tax in order to reach the revenue needed to get to the $30.788 billion figure.  While some in the Capitol argued an increase in the personal income tax might be more favorable for Democratic legislators, there was some concern the change in proposal might not get enough Republicans to get to 102 votes in the House.

PERC on pension reform bill: “This really isn’t a big savings bill, it is a bill that shifts the risk away from the taxpayers”
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, December 17, 2015
The Capitol’s “will they or won’t they” saga concerning whether the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) would be allowed to attach an actuarial note to the latest iteration of a pension reform proposal came to a conclusion Thursday when the commission did just that in an afternoon meeting.  During the meeting, it was noted that Senate Bill 1082—which was largely amended into Senate Bill 1071 by the House State Government Committee on Tuesday—would save between $1.797 billion and $3.36 billion depending on which version was finally enacted and which factors were used in calculations.  If a drafting error in the legislation is corrected by a proposed amendment, the amount of those savings could decrease by either $630 million or 50 percent depending on how the effect is calculated.  “This really isn’t a big savings bill, it is a bill that shifts the risk away from the taxpayers,” said PERC executive director Jim McAneny of the proposal that would create a side-by-side hybrid pension plan for state and public school employees.

Pension debate shut down by House leader, will resume Friday
Penn Live By The Associated Press  on December 17, 2015 at 8:30 PM, updated December 17, 2015 at 8:37 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Debate in the state House of Representatives on legislation to overhaul benefits in Pennsylvania's large public-sector pension plans is on hold.  Republican floor leader Dave Reed abruptly stopped the session Thursday after Rep. Gene DiGirolamo sought to have the Senate-passed bill moved to a committee for further study.  DiGirolamo wants more time to study a new independent report on the bill before the House considers amendments.  A House Republican spokesman says debate will resume Friday, after reports from the Public Employee Retirement Commission are available.

“In 2007 PSBA established its first taskforce to review and develop recommendations to address the pension crisis and recommended a hybrid plan,” said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains. “Senate Bill 1071 accomplishes this long-standing goal. This reform effort adds much needed predictability to pension costs for the state and taxpayers and provides liability protection to school districts, while also providing security for retired workers.”
PSBA calls latest pension reform a ‘significant move forward’
PSBA website December 17, 2015
PSBA believes the most recent pension reform outlined in Senate Bill 1071 is a significant move forward in protecting school districts and taxpayers from the fiscal stress of an unpredictable and costly pension system. Today the Public Employee Retirement Commission reviewed Senate Bill 1071 and provided its analysis in a public meeting.  Through SB 1071, starting July 1, 2017, new members of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) would be placed in a new side-by-side hybrid retirement plan with a reduced defined benefit component (as compared to current employees) and a defined contribution component operating similarly to a 401(k) plan. In addition, the bill would subject current PSERS employees to shared risk/shared gain employee contribution rate adjustments, and would change how the lump sum withdrawal option affects the calculation of annuities for current PSERS employees with regard to withdrawals made after July 1, 2016, of amounts accumulated after July 1, 2016.

Wolf: GOP budget ultimatum 'ridiculous'
by Chris Palmer, HARRISBURG BUREAU. Updated: DECEMBER 18, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
HARRISBURG - A day after House Republicans told Gov. Wolf he had 24 hours to recruit enough votes to pass a long-overdue state budget, their deadline came and went.  And nothing happened.  A spokesman for Wolf dismissed the deadline as "ridiculous." Speaker Mike Turzai, who had set the 12:30 p.m. Thursday deadline, declined to say what the fallout might be.  But the silence and inaction - tantamount to business as usual in the five-month budget stalemate - raised questions about lawmakers' optimism this week that a final plan could be approved by the weekend.  "Have not heard anything new," said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks), speaking between sessions Thursday afternoon.  Turzai and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R., Indiana) on Wednesday challenged Wolf to round up enough votes on a tax plan to support a $30.8 billion spending proposal he and Senate Republicans have touted.  If the governor couldn't find the votes, the leaders said, they would pursue a long-term stopgap budget, potentially with backing from Senate Republicans.  But leaders in that chamber, along with the Wolf administration, said Thursday that they were continuing to finalize details on their so-called framework agreement, which would send an additional $350 million to schools and change the state's liquor and pension systems.

Five things we know about the state of #PaBudget talks: Thursday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek | Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on December 17, 2015 at 8:21 AM, updated December 17, 2015 at 8:32 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here's what we know about the state of Pennsylvania's long-delayed state budget: It still isn't done yet. But it might be done by the weekend. Also, we might finally get that call-up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes.  Anything, as they say, is possible.  So with that in mind, here's a quick cheat-sheet on where things stand on this 17th day of December.

"House GOP members said privately Wagner's letter had little effect on some of their colleagues, while others disliked being bullied by the senator. Some, however, expressed concern that going against the well-heeled senator's wishes might result in him financing a primary opponent to run against them next spring."
Raising taxes could put your job at risk, GOP senator warns House Republicans
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 17, 2015 at 4:59 PM, updated December 17, 2015 at 6:18 PM
Sen. Scott Wagner is telling his Republican legislative colleagues the "code word is no" when it comes to increased spending and taxes.  The York County Republican sent a letter to House Republicans on Thursday calling on them to oppose the tax increases needed to raise the $700 million needed to fund the proposed $30.8 billion budget for 2015-16 that Senate passed last week.  "My point is simply this – now is not the time to raise taxes on Pennsylvania – it is time to downsize Harrisburg and make it more efficient," Wagner wrote. "I am asking you to stand tall with me and not be pressured by Governor Wolf and his threats to vote for tax increases."

Auditor gives Chester Upland a clean bill of health
By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 12/17/15, 10:54 PM EST 
MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Delaware County President Judge Chad F. Kenney heard testimony Thursday morning from the auditor tasked with investigating the last three years of spending by the Chester Upland School District, and he was pleased with the results.  “We didn’t find any evidence of fraud, waste or abuse ... ,” said auditor James O’Brien, who headed the team that conducted the forensic audit for the period from July 2013 until the current budget year. “It looks like the receiver is moving the financial operation in the right direction, and when I’m finished with Phase 2 of the audit I think I’ll be able to say that definitively.”  O’Brien referred to the second phase of the forensic audit, which will examine the years leading up to the receivership of the district. It began in December 2012. The hearing was called to hear testimony from the state Department of Education, the Chester Upland School District and the elected school board on whether to extend the receivership and for how long.

"The idea of the charter school would be fine if they could find a better formulation of government funding, instead of squeezing the neighborhood schools dry and dumping all of their problem students and kids with special needs back into the already distressed system," said Reynolds.
Philly school supt. Hite has contract extended, hears raucous debate about charter conversions
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to extend Superintendent William Hite's contract through 2022 at a meting marked by sharp testimony about converting traditional schools into charters.  SRC members have praised Hite's leadership. So, too, have many city and state politicians, including Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney, who supports the extension.  "I'm thrilled to continue that work, and I have no illusions that we will have to do tough things," said Hite. "There will be many people who will not agree with the tough things that must be done, but nonetheless those things must be done."  Hite has been earning  $300,000 a year since 2012. The new deal requires teachers to get raises before his pay increases.

At raucous meeting, Philly SRC votes to extend Hite's contract through 2022
by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer. Updated: DECEMBER 18, 2015 — 1:08 AM EST
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to lock in William R. Hite Jr. as superintendent for five more years.  Hite, who is paid $300,000 a year, is now under contract through August 2022. The vote was 4-0, with Chair Marge Neff absent.  He will receive raises only if Philadelphia School District teachers do, and at the same rate. Teachers have been without a contract since August 2013.  The superintendent has generally earned plaudits - Mayor Nutter said Thursday that "stability and sound leadership is precisely what the district needs to move forward and continue to make improvements in the quality of education it provides to our city's children," and praised Hite's leadership.  The SRC's vote, Hite said, was a sign of its confidence in the direction he is taking the district. Despite constant fiscal pressure, he has pushed innovation and equity.  "I am thrilled to be able to continue that work," he said.

Spring-Ford School Board member Joe Ciresi to seek state House seat
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 12/17/15, 2:55 PM EST |
Limerick >> After witnessing partisan gridlock in Harrisburg, including a six-month overdue budget and unresolved challenges such as property tax reform, Spring-Ford Area School Board Vice President Joe Ciresi threw his hat into the race this week for state representative in Pennsylvania’s 146th legislative district.  “By working together — Democrats and Republicans — we moved the Spring-Ford Area School District into the top 2 percent in this state and reduced debt by $125 million,” Ciresi said in a press release.  The 45-year-old Democrat has served the school district for more than 10 years, including three years as president, the release states. His fellow board members, all Republicans, supported him to lead the board.

Wash. Court Ruling Could Be Roadmap to Charter Opponents in Other States
Education Week By Arianna Prothero Published Online: December 17, 2015
For an education movement that’s grown exponentially over the past two decades and scored legislative and legal victories in more than 40 states, the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling in September that charter schools are unconstitutionalcame as a major blow.  Since then, national advocates have been weighing what impact that decision could have on charter schools in other states. Although the Washington Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction beyond its state, its ruling could provide a roadmap for charter school opponents elsewhere, they say.  “As you look at the ruling and the decision, some of the questions that the court examined are tenets that are similar in state constitutions elsewhere,” said Eric Paisner, the chief of staff at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Until there’s a specific lawsuit that’s filed, there’s no specific action we can take. We can do research to have a sense of where risk is.”  In Washington, however, local advocates and parents are scrambling to find ways to keep charter schools open.

Investors Rebel Against Controversial Online School Operator K12
Teachers unions protested outside the virtual charter school operator’s shareholder meeting, while inside, investors voted down its proposal for executive pay.
Molly Hensley-Clancy BuzzFeed News Reporter posted on Dec. 16, 2015, at 1:44 p.m.
Investors delivered a strong censure to the country’s largest online charter school operator at its annual meeting Wednesday, voting down its plan for executive pay.  The vote was another sign of discontent among shareholders of the controversial company K12 Inc., with governance advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. citing a “substantial disconnect between compensation and performance results” in its recommendation that shareholders vote against the pay proposal.  K12, which has made a business for itself out of operating publicly funded online charter schools across the country, is at its lowest stock price in five years, down 75% from a high in September of 2013. In the past few months, it has faced aninvestigation by California’s attorney general and an onslaught of criticism from the rest of the education world, which has largely turned against online schools and their operators because of their students’ poor performance.
Glass Lewis gave the company an “F” rating for how it paid its executives compared to peers: K12’s CEO, Nathaniel Davis, was paid $5.33 million in 2015; its chief financial officer was paid $3.6 million.  K12 confirmed its pay proposal had been voted down, but declined to comment further.

"Overwhelming Negative Impact" doesn't necessarily percolate up to the folks receiving your public tax dollars…..
Morningstar Executive Compensation for K12, Inc. (LRN)

Only in America: Four years into life, poor kids are already an entire year behind
Washington Post By Roberto A. Ferdman December 17 at 8:02 AM  
Wealthy parents aren't just able to send their kids to top pre-schools—they can also purchase the latest learning technology and ensure their children experience as many museums, concerts and other cultural experiences as possible. Low-income parents, on the other hand, don't have that opportunity. Instead, they're often left to face the reality of sending their kids to schools without having had the chance to provide an edifying experience at home.  That might sound foreboding if not hyperbolic, but it's a serious and widespread problem in the United States, where poor kids enter school already a year behind the kids of wealthier parents. That deficit is among the largest in the developed world, and it can be extraordinarily difficult to narrow later in life.  This is one of the key takeaways from a new book about how United States is failing its children. The book, called Too Many Children Left Behind, is written by Columbia University professor Jane Waldfogel, a long-time researcher of poverty and inequality. And it will force almost anyone to reflect on the impact of unchecked inequality on children.

"Once acclaimed as the equal-opportunity stepping stone to the middle class, and a way of closing that divide, higher education has instead become more segregated than ever by wealth and race as state funding has fallen and colleges and universities — and even states and the federal government — are shifting financial aid from lower-income to higher-income students. This has created a system that spends the least on those who need the most help and the most on those who arguably need the least. "
The rich-poor divide on America’s college campuses is getting wider, fast
Rich, poor take paths even more dramatically divergent than in the past, new data show
Hechinger Report by JON MARCUS  and  HOLLY K. HACKER December 17, 2015
HARTFORD, Conn. — The main dining hall at Trinity College starts you off with a choice of infused water: lemon, pineapple, strawberry, melon. There are custom-made smoothies, all-day breakfasts, make-your-own waffles, and frozen yogurt, along with countless choices of entrees hovered over by white-jacketed chefs.  Sun pours in through windows overlooking the leafy, manicured campus fringed with stately red brick dorms and classroom buildings past which students stroll with their noses in books. A new student center that will include a Starbucks is going up beside the tennis courts. As a college worker clears her dishes, one senior talks over lunch about the job she’s already lined up after graduation with the help of an alumna.  Across the city, off an exit from an elevated highway, other students dodge downtown traffic to squeeze into the sluggish elevators in time for the start of their classes at Capital Community College. This campus consists of a concrete parking garage and a onetime department store converted into classrooms and offices.

PSBA New School Director Training
School boards who will welcome new directors after the election should plan to attend PSBA training to help everyone feel more confident right from the start. This one-day event is targeted to help members learn the basics of their new roles and responsibilities. Meet the friendly, knowledgeable PSBA team and bring everyone on your “team of 10” to get on the same page fast.
  • $150 per registrant (No charge if your district has a LEARN PassNote: All-Access members also have LEARN Pass.)
  • One-hour lunch on your own — bring your lunch, go to lunch, or we’ll bring a box lunch to you; coffee/tea provided all day
  • Course materials available online or we’ll bring a printed copy to you for an additional $25
  • Registrants receive one month of 100-level online courses for each registrant, after the live class
Remaining Locations:
  • Butler area — Jan. 9 Midwestern IU 4, Grove City (note: location changed from Penn State New Kensington)
  • Allentown area — Jan. 16 Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville
  • Central PA — Jan. 30 Nittany Lion Inn, State College
  • Delaware Co. IU 25 — Feb. 1
  • Scranton area — Feb. 6 Abington Heights SD, Clarks Summit
  • North Central area —Feb. 13 Mansfield University, Mansfield

NSBA Advocacy Institute 2016; January 24 - 26 in Washington, D.C.
Housing and meeting registration is open for Advocacy Institute 2016.  The theme, “Election Year Politics & Public Schools,” celebrates the exciting year ahead for school board advocacy.  Strong legislative programming will be paramount at this year’s conference in January.  Visit for more information.

Save the Dates for These 2016 Annual EPLC Regional State Budget Education Policy Forums
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Thursday, February 11 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Harrisburg
Wednesday, February 17 - 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania)
Thursday, February 25 - 8:30-11:00 a.m. - Pittsburgh
Invitation and more details in January

PASBO 61st Annual Conference and Exhibits March 8 - 11, 2016
Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

The Network for Public Education 3rd Annual National Conference April 16-17, 2016 Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Network for Public Education is thrilled to announce the location for our 3rd Annual National Conference. On April 16 and 17, 2016 public education advocates from across the country will gather in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

Interested in letting our elected leadership know your thoughts on education funding, a severance tax, property taxes and the budget?
Governor Tom Wolf, (717) 787-2500

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377

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