Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 26: Little interest in passing a #PABudget until after the April 26th primary

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup January 26, 2016:
Little interest in passing a #PABudget until after the April 26th primary

"Madonna called education funding an issue four years in the making.  Coming out of the recession, most of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts saw budget cuts, property tax hikes or both, he said.  You can debate whether that was the fault of Wolf’s predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, or an inevitable consequence of the end of the federal stimulus, but “the fact remains that that’s the single most important issue that voters want to see addressed,” he said."
Reprise June 2015: Pennsylvania voters want action on education funding, property taxes
Lancaster Online by TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer Jun 18, 2015
Most of Pennsylvania’s registered voters are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
About half (49 percent) support Gov. Tom Wolf’s death penalty moratorium, versus 37 percent who oppose it.  And they want action on increasing education funding and property tax reform.  Those are some of the findings of the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll, released Thursday.  F&M political scientist G. Terry Madonna, who directs the poll, said he wanted to gauge public sentiment on some of the main issues before the state Legislature.  Among poll respondents, 30 percent said their top priority for state lawmakers is more public education funding, while another 25 percent cited property tax reform.  Those were the top two priorities in F&M’s previous poll in March, and they are related issues; State funding and local property taxes are school districts’ two largest funding sources by far. 

"I know what you are thinking: deadlines didn’t work then and they won’t work now. That’s why my legislation will also require the legislature to remain in continuous session, meeting every day without leave, without pay, without reimbursements, and without per diems, if a complete budget is not passed and signed by July 1. The same goes for the governor, his senior staff and cabinet members. That doesn’t mean salary, reimbursements and per diems will be temporarily suspended and paid out after a budget plan is passed, as is currently the case. It means they’ll be forfeited. It means when the legislature and the governor don’t do their job and don’t meet their constitutional obligations, they get nothing.  In addition, any meetings between legislative leaders and the governor after June 30 must be open to the public. The practice of playing out the budget in “he-said, she-said” leaks to the press is certainly unproductive. It has only served to further partisan gridlock and finger-pointing. If you are going to negotiate with the peoples’ money and the peoples’ business, do it in front of the people."
SEN. DINNIMAN: Hold Harrisburg accountable for state budget
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by State Senator Andy Dinniman POSTED: 01/25/16, 2:00 AM EST |
The state budget impasse, now in its seventh month, is symptomatic of what’s wrong with Harrisburg. In turn, it offers an opportunity to finally address real and long-standing problems in the legislative and budget process.  Pennsylvania’s budget runs past the July 1 deadline 37 percent of the time, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That is unacceptable and it cannot be allowed to continue. There is no question that entering a fiscal year without a finalized budget has potentially disastrous and widespread impacts. Meanwhile, other states have enacted measures to help avoid budget stalemates and to spur lawmakers to action when partisan gridlock begins to set in.  As a result of this year’s budget impasse and additional research into approaches that have been successful in other states, I am introducing and supporting a series of bills that will move up the Pennsylvania’s budget calendar, impose severe consequence on the legislature when budgets run late, make more budget negotiations public, and move the Commonwealth’s budget process to a more long-term planning approach.

"There seems to be waning interest in passing a budget this year, with many not expecting movement until after the April 26th primary.  Almost all urgency in the state capital has disappeared since Wolf’s partial veto at the end of December, after schools and social services providers received six-months’ worth of funding they desperately needed."
PA-BGT: The Budget of Yesteryear
PoliticsPA Written by Jason Addy, Contributing Writer January 25, 2016
The state’s longest-ever budget standoff is scheduled to become something of an afterthought if officials in Harrisburg don’t alter their planning timeline for next year’s budget.  Tom Wolf – who just completed his first year as Governor – is due to deliver his second annual budget address to the General Assembly on Feb. 9, which would, usually, kick off negotiations on the budget that starts July 1st, Kate Giammarise of the Post-Gazette reports.  If state lawmakers hold true to their calendars – and do not pass a budget – Wolf will be tasked with laying out his vision for the 2016-17 fiscal year, though the 2015-16 budget will be 224 days late by then.

Will Gov. Tom Wolf's first budget be done before his second? That's up to him: Charlie Gerow
PennLive Op-Ed  By Charlie Gerow on January 22, 2016 at 1:05 PM, updated January 25, 2016 at 12:34 PM
If it sounds like a broken record, it's because it is.  Those are the noisy attack ads, again trumpeting Gov. Tom Wolf's carefully crafted words describing the most recent budget the Legislature sent him. "Garbage" is the lead. It doesn't get better from there.  Somehow the Wolf team has decided that this is the best path to negotiating a budget for the commonwealth. It didn't work in the hot days of summer or during the fall.  You have to wonder about their persistence. It brings to mind the adage about the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Inky Editorial: Legislative cowardice
by Inquirer Editorial Board. Updated: JANUARY 25, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
Amid all the loud talk in Harrisburg about passing a budget, including a tea-party Republican's blabbering about placing a boot on Gov. Wolf's neck and Wolf's calling a proposed GOP budget "garbage," there has been a strange silence about a necessary ingredient to any spending plan - how to pay for it.  The public has heard next to nothing about generating the revenue needed to cover expenses since efforts to hike the sales tax evaporated weeks ago. No one has floated a tax bill with bipartisan support. And as the state's April 26 primary election looms ever closer, it's becoming doubtful that anyone will.  With a $2 billion deficit, a declining credit rating, and many services already cut to untenable levels, a tax increase seems unavoidable. Legislators trying to ignore that reality are only making a bad situation even worse.

Attytood: Failing our kids, from Flint to Philly
Philly Daily News Attytood Blog by  Will Bunch Updated: JANUARY 25, 2016 — 6:27 PM EST
There was another contentious meeting last week at the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. The issue was whether to convert yet another three traditional public schools into charter schools that would be privately managed with our public tax dollars.
At one point in the meeting, the city's leading advocate for charters -- Mark Gleason of the deep-pocketed Philadelphia Schools Partnership -- had the microphone and was addressing critics who said that in racing to privatize education, we were treating our kids just like Flint, Michigan, where a government scheme to reduce costs ended up contaminating Flint's drinking water with toxic lead.  I wasn't at the meeting, but attendees recorded and transcribed Gleason's comments (which were also widely discussed on social media). This is part of what he had to say:  "I started my day today reading the newspaper and reading about Flint, Michigan, where they were serving for more than a year contaminated drinking water to all the families in Flint," Gleason said. "Nobody tried to do that.  They were trying to do something good.  They were trying to save money.  They tried to find a better solution."

School Reform Commission is rigged against Philadelphia schoolchildren
Philly Daily News Opinion by Solomon Jones Updated: JANUARY 26, 2016 — 3:01 AM EST
THE PHILADELPHIA School District, a $3 billion enterprise whose job is to educate mostly poor and black children, is a system steeped in racism.  It doesn't matter whether those at the head of the system are black. The game is fixed, the outcome is predetermined, and the children are commodities whose value is measured not in test scores or grades, but in dollars and cents.  To put it bluntly, Philadelphia's education system is an auction block where children of color are sold to the highest bidder. It is a system that Judge Doris Smith Ribner once said was "failing or refusing to provide . . . a quality education to children attending racially isolated minority schools."  I wish I could say Smith-Ribner's statement - made in a 1992 ruling on Philadelphia's segregated schools - was no longer accurate. But I'm convinced that the system is rigged.  Want proof? Look no further than the School Reform Commission, the unelected body that allocates the billions flowing through the district each year. Created in 2001 when the city, under former Mayor John Street, went to the state for money, the SRC was part of a state takeover. From the beginning, the politically run SRC - with two members appointed by the mayor and three by the governor - had a mandate to fund privately run school organizations with public money.

Proposed changes to state law would be more fair to all children
the notebook Opinion by Robert Fayfich January 25 — 5:45pm
Robert Fayfich is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
The recent article entitled “Changes to state law would squander historic school funding proposal” published in the Notebook unfortunately serves to drive another wedge between traditional and charter public schools based on incomplete information.  Let me state from the beginning that I have worked with the three authors for the past year and a half as part of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to advocate for not only more funding for public education, but also for a more fair and equitable distribution of that money. I know we agree on some fundamental issues, but I sincerely believe the article does not include all the information necessary to reach a complete understanding of the situation or the proposed legislation.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding website
Lawmakers must pass a REAL budget that increases basic education funding by at least $350 million to help schools recover from the inadequate funding of recent years and to begin implementing the fair funding formula approved by the bipartisan state Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC)

"The district will pay $850,000 more next year in state-mandated pension obligations to the Public School Employees Retirement System, or PSERS."
Upper St. Clair School Board adopts preliminary budget
Post Gazette By Margaret Smykla January 25, 2016 11:37 PM
The Upper St. Clair School Board on Monday night unanimously adopted a preliminary general fund budget of $76.4 million for 2016-17 for Act 1 purposes.  The preliminary budget includes a 1.3320 mill increase. Even so, the budget, with estimates adjusted for 3 percent inflation, is not balanced.  “It is not the official budget,” Superintendent Patrick O’Toole said.  The reason for the early budget is a late January deadline to file a preliminary budget with the state Dept. of Education in order to be able to exceed the Act 1 index in raising taxes.  The vote is not binding, but failure to adopt means the district cannot exceed the index at budget time.

"The district predicted that taxes would have to go up when it borrowed $18 million in October to pay for day-to-day operations.  Officials said the tax increase could stretch over the 10-year period to pay back the loan."
Preliminary Penn Hills budget raises taxes more than 50%
Trib Live BY KELSEY SHEA  | Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, 9:12 p.m. |Updated 7 hours ago
Property taxes would increase more than 50 percent under a preliminary budget approved by the Penn Hills School Board, though directors doubt the increase will be so hefty when the final budget is approved by June 30.  The board approved by a 5-1 vote Monday night the preliminary budget, which contains a property tax increase from 24.8061 mills to 37.7655 mills. If the increase is adopted as proposed, Penn Hills would have one of the highest property tax rates in Allegheny County, figures show.  Under that scenario, the owner of a property with the district's median assessment of $68,600 would pay $2,593 in school taxes — $892 more than the $1,701 owed this year.

State College Area school board approves preliminary budget for the 2016-2017 school year
Centre Daily Times BY FRANK READY fready@centredaily.com January 25, 2016
On Monday evening the State College Area School District board of directors voted unanimously to approve the preliminary budget for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Last month, the board voted to approve a proposed preliminary budget that included a real estate tax increase of 4.32 percent.  That same tax increase was reflected in the preliminary budget approved on Monday evening, a value that can be changed during the coming months during the preparation of the proposed final budget, which is scheduled for presentation on April 25.  As of now, the board is expected to vote on whether or not to approve the proposed final budget for 2016-2017 on May 9, with a public hearing on the calendar for June 6.  The 4.32 real estate tax increase can be broken down as the sum of the 2.4 percent allowed under the base Act 1 Index, the maximum real estate tax increase that is allowed for the district, and the 1.92 percent for referendum debt exceptions.

Scranton board debates hiring freeze
Times Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL Published: January 26, 2016
The Scranton School Board does not need to freeze hiring, and instead, must evaluate each position individually, some school directors said Monday night.  At the board’s work session — the first since the board moved the meeting back to a separate night from the regular meeting — directors debated the merits of a hiring freeze for nonessential positions.  The freeze, called for last month by Director Mark McAndrew, is needed with the district’s poor financial condition, he said. Director Tom Schuster agreed Monday and said a freeze would show the public that the board is serious about curbing expenses.  Some directors questioned how a policy would define “nonessential” and said they do not want to be limited by a policy. Instead, the administration and board should discuss whether positions are needed, Vice President Cy Douaihy said.

"DCPS opens food centers in schools during the summer to help children who rely on schools for federally subsidized meals, but Monday marked the first time the school district offered free meals during a weather-related closure. School officials and teachers in neighboring school districts were similarly concerned about what the snow days would mean for students from low-income families, but none of them offer a similar program."
For hungry D.C. kids stuck in snow, schools open their doors for meals
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton January 25 at 5:33 PM  
The Jordan family — two parents and five children ages 3,6,8,9 and 10 — streamed into the cafeteria at the Columbia Heights Education Campus and made a beeline for the chicken nuggets sitting under heat lamps.  “This is good,” said Gonnie Jordan, 6, who gave two thumbs up between bites of nuggets, a biscuit, corn and broccoli. His wide grin revealed a missing lower tooth.  District of Columbia Public Schools were officially closed on Monday in the wake of the weekend’s blizzard, but the cafeterias in 10 schools around the city were open for business, ready to feed breakfast and lunch to any hungry child.

She made schools work for poor kids in Jennings, Mo., and now she is moving on
Washington Post By Emma Brown January 25 at 10:52 AM  
Jennings School District used to be one of the lowest-performing districts in Missouri, on the brink of losing its accreditation. Then, in 2012, Tiffany Anderson showed up in her white tennis shoes.  She started a food bank and installed washers and dryers that parents could use in exchange for an hour of volunteering in their child’s classroom. She opened a shelter for homeless teens and a medical clinic at the high school. She also raised expectations for teachers and erased a substantial budget deficit.  Now Jennings, a district whose students are overwhelmingly poor and black, has become fully accredited for the first time in many years, and the community is full of pride in what its schools — and its kids — have shown they are capable of doing.

PenSPRA's Annual Symposium, Friday April 8th in Shippensburg, PA
PenSPRA, or the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association, has developed a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your district's brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.  Join us the evening before the Symposium for a “Conversation with Colleagues” from 5 – 6 pm followed by a Networking Social Cocktail Hour from 6 – 8 pm.  Both the Symposium Friday and the social events on Thursday evening will be held at the Shippensburg University Conference Center. Snacks at the social hour, and Friday’s breakfast and lunch is included in your registration cost. $125 for PenSPRA members and $150 for non-members. Learn more about our speakers and topics and register today at this link:

PSBA New School Director Training Remaining Locations:
  • 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
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

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

Attend the United Opt Out Conference in Philadelphia February 26-28
United Opt Out: The Movement to End Corporate Reform will hold its annual conference on Philadelphia from February 26-28.

Save the Date | PBPC Budget Summit March 3rd
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
The 2015-2016 budget remains in a state of limbo. But it's time to start thinking about the 2016-17 budget. The Governor will propose his budget for next year in early February.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold our annual Budget Summit on March 3rd. Save the date and join us for an in-depth look at the Governor's 2016-17 budget proposal, including what it means for education, health and human services, the environment and local communities.  And, of course, if the 2015-2016 budget is not complete by then, we will also be talking about the various alternatives still under consideration.
As in year's past, this year's summit will be at the Hilton Harrisburg.  Register today!

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.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

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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