Friday, March 11, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 11: A budget in 30 days? Last meeting was in December

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup March 11, 2016:
A budget in 30 days? Last meeting was in December

PA Legislature Joint public hearing-on Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Monday, March 14; 10:30 am
PA House and Senate Education Committees
03/14/2016 10:30 AM Hearing Room #1 North Office Bldg

Schools to join Spring-Ford in march on Harrisburg Monday, March 14
Capitol Rotunda 11 am

Harrisburg politicians, start doing your job
Doylestown Intelligencer Letter by Jennifer and David Gross Posted: Friday, March 11, 2016 12:15 am
While state lawmakers continue to play politics over the state budget, our children and their right to a quality education continue to fall to the wayside. The crisis in Harrisburg has decimated funding for school districts across the state. We were disheartened to read that right here in Quakertown, where we send our daughter to school, the political squabble will likely cause a spending freeze, hiring freeze and staff furloughs for the district.  This isn’t the fault of the teachers. This isn’t the fault of taxpayers. It certainly isn’t the fault of our children. The blame lies entirely on the culture of gridlock and the political games that are being played by the people we sent to Harrisburg to represent us.  As parents, this situation is incredibly disappointing. Our representatives in Harrisburg have one job, and they are not doing it. We're writing today to call on Harrisburg politicians to start doing their jobs. It’s time to stop sacrificing the education of our children and negotiate a budget now. Our children deserve better.

“We have an opportunity to fix 24 years of rotten injustice.” stated State Representative David Parker in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.  “First, we need to quickly bring all 180 under-funded School Districts to equity, as soon as possible.  After that, all BEF funding should go through the equitable Basic Education Funding formula. “   Parker added, “Now is the Time!.  If we do not address the 180 under-funded schools first, these 180 schools will be doomed to remain under-funded for another 24 years and that is devastatingly wrong.” 
Group Urges Citizens to Sign/Share Petition for Equity First
180 School Districts are Under-Funded by $937 MILLION
(Harrisburg, PA) - A new Pennsylvania non-profit group, Citizens for Fair and Equitable School Funding, is urging citizens across Pennsylvania to sign and share a citizen's Petition asking Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support Equity First for the distribution of Basic Education Funding.  Their website is
In June, 2015, the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission issued its final report and unanimously recommended a new Basic Education Funding formula to distribute nearly $7 Billion in state funding that goes to Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.  After receiving thousands of pages of testimony from hundreds of education leaders, and reviewing all the data, the Commission determined 180 School Districts are under-funded by more than $937 Million, ANNUALLY.    Citizens can support Equity First by visiting:  Clicking on “Get Involved” and “Sign Petition.”

A budget in 30 days? Some think so.
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, March 10, 2016
As House Appropriations budget hearings wrapped up on Thursday, Committee Majority Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) made the bold claim that he feels there is a 30-day window approaching that could bring about an end to the FY 2015-2016 budget impasse.  The comments came in preliminary remarks before questioning with Budget Sec. Randy Albright began for the penultimate scrutiny by the House Appropriations Committee of proposed FY 2016-2017 spending.  “I’m listening to members on both sides of the aisle and they’re talking about compromise, well, let’s get together and start talking about it and see if the governor is willing to get 15-16 done,” Rep. Adolph told reporters during a mid-hearing break Thursday. “I think the money’s there, we can pay our bills, and let’s close the pain for these folks out there.”  Most importantly, Rep. Adolph said, the two sides need to get together and start having substantive discussions about how to conclude the budget process, something he said really hasn’t happened since the governor’s December line-item veto of a Republican-crafted budget plan.

Last meeting on overdue Pa. budget was in December, lawmaker says
WHYY Newsworks BY MARY WILSON MARCH 11, 2016
Pennsylvania hasn't had a full spending plan for more than eight months, but top lawmakers haven't had a budget meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf's administration this year, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said Thursday.  "We haven't met since December," said Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware. "And we should have been."  In December, Wolf partially rejected a Republican-crafted spending plan sent to his desk right before the holidays. The vetoed funding for corrections, schools, agriculture, and other programs has prompted recriminations from both sides of the aisle, as well as a number of legal quandaries.  The state Treasury is advancing unauthorized funds to the state prisons system in an effort to protect the safety of the commonwealth. This week, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association asked a state court to force state funding to flow to schools over and above what is in the budget approved by the governor.

Five things we learned from Pa. Budget Secretary Randy Albright's final act in 2016 state budget hearings Friday
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 10, 2016 at 6:56 PM
What more can you say about a budget stalemate that's now into its ninth month, has the state Treasurer weighing competing Constitutional provisions to keep certain state operations afloat and - with a fresh batch of tax increase proposals on the table - shows no sign of easing in 2016-17?   Lots, it turns out.  The House Appropriations Committee had State Budget Secretary Randy Albright in to close its winter set of budget hearings Thursday and, between this year's gridlock and next year's $33.2 billion plan, it took five hours for all sides to make their case.  Catch the full show on PCN if you want, but here are the points along the way that made the biggest impression on us.

“Standard & Poor's warned last month that Pennsylvania has 90 days to fix its fiscal situation or its credit rating will likely be downgraded, Albright said. If that occurs, taxpayers would have to pay millions of dollars more when the state borrows money.”
Republican House budget panel chairman accuses Wolf of 'creating' budget crisis
Trib Live BY BRAD BUMSTED  | Thursday, March 10, 2016, 11:10 p.m.
HARRISBURG — A Republican House budget panel chairman accused Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday of “creating a crisis” with his state budget proposals rather than seeking compromise.  Wolf in June became the first governor since the 1950s to veto the entire budget when he could have nixed portions of it, said Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County, who heads the House Appropriations Committee.  Adolph blamed Wolf for using his line-item veto to cut $6 billion from education, state prisons and human services instead of working with the House on a compromise members offered in December that left just $500 million in dispute.  Two months later, Adolph said, the education department sent instructions to school districts about how to close schools, which Republicans said was a tactic to gain support for spending increases.  “That's not trying to compromise; it's creating a crisis,” Adolph said. “If you want to settle this, you don't send out a booklet on how to close a school.”
Wolf's budget secretary, Randy Albright, went before the panel to defend his boss.

Third & State Blog Posted by Mark Price on March 9, 2016 12:50 pm
The Inquirer’s Joseph DiStefano reported last week that Standard and Poor’s is threatening to cut Pennsylvania’s credit rating due to the states failure to address the structural budget deficit. Ratings on debt issued by Pennsylvania have been downgraded five times in the last four years and every downgrade costs the commonwealth tens of millions of dollars on each billion dollars of borrowing.  Indeed DiStefano reports that, “Pennsylvania taxpayers had to pay investors an extra 0.52 percent interest to sell bonds as of last month, more than any state except New Jersey and Illinois, according to a report by PNC Financial Services Group.”  Spending more than we should to borrow money means spending less on making sure that every child in Pennsylvania gets access to a high quality public education.

“CASD will only receive $8,534,449 in state funding.”  That would leave the district short by $7,050,000 in basic education subsidy, special education subsidy, Ready to Learn funding and PlanCon building project reimbursement, Snyder said. “
State budget debacle could mean a $7 million deficit for Carlisle school district
If lawmakers fail to resolve the state budget debacle, Carlisle Area School District could be faced with a $7 million budget deficit in its current fiscal year.  That was the word Thursday from Business Operations Manager Owen Snyder who recently sought advice because he thought he was at a disadvantage for being fairly new to how public education is funded.  “I’ve talked to a number of different business managers in the area,” said Snyder who came to Carlisle Area School District from Carlisle Borough. Everyone he consulted said the same thing. “It’s just such a new environment,” Snyder told school board members.  On Feb. 9, Gov. Tom Wolf presented a proposed state budget for 2016-2017 that includes a $487 million increase in education funding. It has been the past practice in Carlisle for district administrators to review a governor’s budget with the school board soon after the fiscal plan is unveiled to the General Assembly. But this year administrators kept it brief.  Given that the 2015-2016 budget has not yet been approved, any modifications to the education budget are far from guarantees,” Snyder wrote in a memo. “Absent further action from the PA legislature on the 2015-2016 budget,

Union CIty Area School DIstrict lays off 18 Published 03/10 2016 11:17PM
Union City is laying off 18 staff members because of the state budget impasse.  The school Board announced Thursday night that they will be laying off teacher and student aids janitors, maintenance crew members and the pool supervisor. The school will also shut down it's swimming pool.  State Representative Curt Sonney attended the meeting to address the budget issues.  The state released 45% of their yearly funds to the school, but the district needs the full $7 million to operate. 

Brentwood schools may take out loan to cover daily expenses
Post Gazette By Deana Carpenter March 11, 2016 12:00 AM
Brentwood school officials said the district may have to take out a loan to cover payroll and day-to-day expenses to fill a funding gap created by the lingering state budget impasse.  Superintendent Amy Burch said that without state funding, the district’s fund balance will be depleted by the beginning of July.  “After running a cash flow deficit with the bank, we look to be at a fund balance of approximately $384,000 by June 30,” she said. Brentwood began the school year with a fund balance of $3.5 million. The district had anticipated receiving about $3.2 million from the state when it put together its $21.4 million 2015-16 budget last year.  Ms. Burch said a loan amount has not been determined but that it would cover “payroll and day-to-day expenses.” She said the banks the district is speaking with have interest rates between 1.35 and 1.55 percent.  The district was expecting about $573,665 in construction reimbursements from the state and about $65,000 in Social Security reimbursements.  To offset the loss in state funding, Brentwood is withholding tuition payments to cyber and charter schools, about $26,000 a month, and is looking at other areas where it can cut spending, including Brentwood Day Camp, which has been in existence for decades. 

Hite pledges a nurse, counselor for every Philly school
Inquirer by Susan Snyder and Martha Woodall, STAFF WRITERS. Updated: MARCH 10, 2016 — 1:47 PM EST
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced at a principals' meeting Thursday that he plans to budget for a full-time nurse and a full-time counselor in all 214 schools next year.
The plan, which was presented at a session at Martin Luther King High School, is contingent on the approval of Gov. Wolf's proposed budget. The governor's budget would provide a substantial increase in funding for the school district next year, said Fernando Gallard, district spokesman.  He said that the individual school budgets that contain provisions for nurses and counselors were being distributed later on Thursday.  The surprise announcement at the high school in the city's East Germantown section stunned and heartened principals, many of whom have been trying to run schools while having access to nurses and counselors only a few days a week because of the district's financial woes.

Pre-K commission mulls support for soda tax
by Julia Terruso, STAFF WRITER. Updated: MARCH 10, 2016 — 2:43 PM EST
The commission formed to study universal pre-K in the city is weighing whether to include Mayor Kenney's sugary drink tax in its final recommendations report.  The independent commission, which began work in June, published a first draft in February that offered no proposals for how to fund pre-K, but did outline a breakdown of the benefits and costs of adding 10,000 quality pre-K seats.  On Tuesday, at the commission's monthly meeting, members of the administration who are on the commission said the report should include the three-cent-per-ounce tax. Meeting attendees said conversation grew heated with some members not wanting the tax included in the proposal.  "The commission hasn't taken an official stance yet, we're still having conversations," said Sharon Easterling, co-chair of the commission and executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. "I will say the commission is in strong agreement that we have to have sufficient funding."

 “At the four newly selected schools, principals and staff will be required to reapply for their jobs.   Based on eligibility for state and federal turnaround grants, the district said it will allow no more than half of the current staff to stay at the schools. Teachers not chosen through a turnaround school's site-selection process would be force transferred elsewhere in the district.”
Educators push back against Philly district plan for school shake-ups
The School District of Philadelphia is devoting $23.7 million to a new plan for intervention at 15 of its lowest-performing schools; $7.2 million of that is new district investment. The rest will come from redirecting funds currently spent at affected schools.  The district will provide additional resources and supports to the schools clustered in its "Turnaround Network" with a goal of lifting them out of the bottom quartile of the district's quality rating within five years.  Until this point, the Turnaround Network has consisted of the 12 remaining schools that were designated "promise academies" by former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman in 2010.  As reported last week, the district plans to add four of its academically lowest-ranking elementary schools to the list: Theodore Roosevelt, E.W. Rhodes,  S. Weir Mitchell, and Luis Munoz-Marin.  And it has plans to remove Cayuga Elementary from the Turnaround Network based on student growth on state standardized tests.  District officials said all of the turnaround schools will have an assistant principal, a full-time guidance counselor, and full-time teacher coaches for English and math.  Officials said K-2 classrooms will be capped at 20-1 student-teacher ratios; teachers and principals will receive extensive professional development; and technology-driven blended-learning models will be put at a premium.
Pa. vows "top to bottom" audit of Manheim Township school district
Lancaster Online by SUSAN BALDRIGE | Staff Writer March 10, 2016
The state’s chief fiscal watchdog said his planned audit of the Manheim Township School District will be a “top-to-bottom performance and financial” review that’s more extensive than any other he’s conducting here in 2016.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, meeting with reporters in Lancaster on Thursday, said his office is singling out the suburban school district amid disclosures of Sunshine Act violations, an unexpected superintendent resignation and spending cuts.  "It's the only school district in Lancaster County that had to cut back on art and music," said DePasquale. "The only one."  "The news that the Auditor General has scheduled Manheim Township School District for a standard audit is neither unheard of nor unwelcomed,” Acting Superintendent Marty Hudacs wrote on the district’s website earlier this month.

Pediatrics group advocates screening for poverty
More than 34 percent of children in Allegheny County and more than 39 percent of children statewide live in what are considered low-income homes, according to Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
By Kate Giammarise / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 9, 2016 12:00 AM
Calling poverty “one of the most widespread and persistent health risks facing children,” the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing new recommendations today urging pediatricians to ask at checkups if families are able to make ends meet.  Kids living in poverty can face a number of health problems, some of which could affect them for their entire lives, such as high rates of asthma and obesity, developmental problems, and harmful levels of stress that can alter brain function.  Pediatricians “have a short period of time to really address some issues that could have an impact all through [a child’s] adult life,” said Joseph Aracri, system chair of pediatrics at Allegheny Health Network  More than 34 percent of children in Allegheny County and more than 39 percent of children statewide live in what are considered low-income homes, according to Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Trump Says Carson Will Have Major Education Role in His Administration
Education Week Politics K-12 By Daarel Burnette II on March 11, 2016 12:16 AM
Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said during Thursday night's GOP debate in Miami that he had spoken with former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson for more than an hour about education and that Carson would be "very involved with education, something that's an expertise of his," in a Trump administration.  He stopped short, however, of specifying exactly what role Carson would have if Trump were to be elected. Carson was expected to endorse Trump during a press conference on Friday.    Trump's comments came in response to a question about the Common Core State Standards, which Trump said he wants to get rid of, along with the U.S. Department of Education.  As far as Carson and education goes, "he has such a great handle on it," Trump said according to a Washington Post transcript. "He wants competitive schools. He wants a lot of different things that are terrific, including charter schools, by the way, that the unions are fighting like crazy. But charter schools work, and they work very well."

Pi Day · Celebrate Mathematics on March 14th
Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.  Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.

Ravitch: Help Us Raise Money to Help Our Allies
Diane Ravitch’s Blog March 6, 2016
The Network for Public Education Action Fund exists to help friends of public schools compete for election to state and local school boards, as well as other elected offices.  We can't match the spending of our adversaries, but our numbers are far greater than theirs. If we get our friends and neighbors to vote, if we get every parent and teacher to vote, we would win every  seat.
 We have the power to reclaim and rebuild our schools, making them palaces of learning rather than dreary places to take tests.

PSBA Advocacy Forum & Day on the Hill April 4th
APR 4, 2016 • 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the third annual Advocacy Forum on April 4, 2016, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. This year’s event will have a spotlight on public education highlighting school districts’ exemplary student programs. Hear from legislators on how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill. Online advanced registration will close on April 1, 4 p.m. On-site registrants are welcome.

Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) 2016 Education Congress April 6-7, 2016
professional development program for school administrators
Focus: "The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas"  Featured Presenter: Dr. David Burkus
April 6-7, 2016 Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill
The program will focus on how school leaders can develop and utilize creativity in education management, operations, curriculum and leadership goals. The second day will allow participants to select from multiple discussion/work sessions focusing on concepts presented by Dr. Burkus and facilitated by school leaders who have demonstrated success in creative thinking and leadership in schools across the commonwealth.
Deadline for hotel accommodations: March 15
See the PASA website for more information at:

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:

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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