Sunday, March 20, 2016

PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup March 20: Pressure continues to build statewide for resolution to budget impasse

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup March 20, 2016:
Pressure continues to build statewide for resolution to budget impasse

PASBO will be holding a press conference on Wednesday at 9 am at the Capitol to present the deteriorating financial situation of schools.

“Gerrymandering — which is the drawing of electoral districts to favor one side or the other — tends to encourage polarization by creating more “safe” districts for incumbents. They rarely face a serious challenge from the opposing party and thus cater to their activist bases.
The result is fewer moderates in each party, and thus fewer opportunities to bridge the partisan divide.  “The middle tends to govern in legislatures, and I think the middle has gotten smaller,” Pound said.  …The challenges of divided government are most serious when fundamental principles are at stake. That’s the case in Illinois, where a key issue is labor unions’ power, and in Pennsylvania, where the main dispute is over raising taxes to fund education.”
Partisan deadlock: Now showing in a state capital near you
Washington Post By Robert McCartney March 17  
In Illinois, a prolonged political stalemate over the state budget has shut homeless shelters, drug treatment centers and mental health clinics that serve the poor.  A similar impasse in Pennsylvania has forced school districts to slash budgets by cutting back on textbook purchases, test preparation and building repairs.  The partisan standoffs that regularly paralyze federal Washington are also hobbling a growing number of state capitals. They have frustrated governors and legislators alike, and aggravated the public’s ire over ineffective government.  … “It has gotten more polarized,” William T. Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said. “In most places, it is not as bad as at the national level, but it reflects the country.”  As a GOP presidential candidate runs a populist campaign for president, tapping into the anger over the impasse in Washington, state governments are having the same trouble getting things done.  The impact has been most severe this year in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Political deadlocks have prevented both states from approving budgets eight months into the fiscal year.

Governor Wolf also proposed a $200 million increase in basic education funding, which is a 3.3 percent increase above the $377 million increase included in the 2015-2016 bipartisan budget compromise agreed to in December. That agreement was supported by bipartisan majorities in both chambers before Republican House leaders failed to hold a final vote. The new funding would be distributed using the Fair Funding Formula created and unanimously adopted by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in June 2015.  The 2016-17 proposal would also add $50 million for Special Education, $60 million to expand Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Programs, as well as bolster funding to the state higher education institutions to lessen the reliance on tuition hikes and fee increases.
On "Schools that Teach" Tour, Secretary Rivera Discusses the Future of Education in Pennsylvania
PRNewswire Mar 18, 2016, 15:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education
MT. JOY, Pa., March 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today during a "Schools That Teach" tour stop, Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera met with officials from the Lancaster County Career and Technical Center's (CTC) Mount Joy Campus to discuss the two paths Pennsylvania could take regarding the future of schools.  "Our schools and students are doing their best despite dwindling resources," said Secretary Rivera. "Career and technical schools across the commonwealth are doing great work with the resources they have, but now the state must do its part to invest in these CTCs in order to ensure students receive training to prepare them for the 21stcentury workforce. We must choose the path that provides a robust and needed investment in these critical, high-value programs."  The state budget introduced by Governor Tom Wolf in February included investments to modernize Career and Technical Education including funding for career counselors in middle and high schools, for developing innovative programs, and for grants for schools to purchase high-tech equipment.

“Using his control of PA Cyber and several other companies, Trombetta siphoned off at least $1 million in tax dollars paid to the online school, prosecutors say.”
Trombetta trial pushed back to September
Trib Live BY BRIAN BOWLING  | Friday, March 18, 2016, 6:06 p.m.
A federal judge Friday agreed to reschedule the trial for Nick Trombetta, former CEO of Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.  Trombetta of East Liverpool, Ohio, and Neal Prence, his accountant, were scheduled to stand trial June 6. They filed a motion Thursday asking that the trial be delayed. The government didn't oppose the request.  U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti rescheduled the trial to start on Sept. 19. A federal grand jury indicted Trombetta in 2013 on 11 counts of mail fraud, bribery, tax conspiracy and filing false tax returns and indicted Prence, of Koppel, Beaver County, of helping Trombetta in the tax conspiracy.

Catching Bigfoot: Wolf pursues election-year tax increase
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY March 19,2016
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's pursuit of a major election-year tax increase has decades of precedent against it: No such tax increase has passed the Pennsylvania Legislature in an election year since at least 1970.  Still, with the general election eight months away, and schools warning that they may close amid historic partisan budget gridlock, Wolf is trying to do just that. He is asking perhaps Pennsylvania's most conservative Legislature in modern history to pass a $2.7 billion tax hike that amounts to almost 10 percent of last year's total operating budget spending.  Many inside the Capitol suggest an election-year tax increase is about as likely as catching Bigfoot or a Philadelphia Phillies World Series victory this October, and even less so before the April 26 primary election.  "I would characterize it as a glimmer of hope after the primary that reasonable minds may prevail," said Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Allegheny.

Budget veto threat lingers while Gov. Tom Wolf seeks counsel with Democratic allies
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 20, 2016 at 7:59 AM, updated March 20, 2016 at 8:04 AM
A funny thing has happened on the way to Pennsylvania's next budget veto.
Thirteen House Democrats cast their votes Wednesday with Republicans for a $30 billion spending plan designed to serve as a three-month truce in the state's unending budget wars.  With 200 members currently seated and, that's just three more Democratic votes away from a potential veto override in the House of Representatives, assuming the Republicans can bring all of their 118 votes to the table.  Wolf may still veto the plan, as he flatly declared he would before the House vote. But first, he will now meet Monday with Democratic legislative leaders in what a source familiar with the plan described as a political stress test.

Speaker Turzai implores Gov. Wolf to sign budget supplemental
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Friday, March 18, 2016/Categories: News and Views
With the $6 billion budget supplemental and funding for state-related universities now awaiting the governor’s final action, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) made a pitch Friday to implore Gov. Tom Wolf to sign the bills and close out a full-year spending plan for FY 2015-2016.  He said without closing out the current year, negotiations for the FY 2016-2017 budget cannot get started.  “You cannot begin to negotiate 16-17 until you close 15-16,” he said.  “There was a deficit when we took over from Gov. Rendell, about a $4 billion deficit. What you should do, is you should look at each budget as it comes to you,” the Speaker added. “You cannot look at 16-17 until you finish 15-16. The lower the spend in 15-16, [the more it] will improve your position in 16-17.”  Speaker Turzai argued revenues in recent years have come in over expectations and the picture of current year revenues cannot be established until a complete spending plan is in place.

“Once again last week, the Legislature sent him a spending package, this time worth $30 billion and restoring many of the line items the governor vetoed late last year. It would provide $150 million more for basic education than the 2014-15 budget. Mr. Wolf has made education his signature issue, and he is threatening a veto because that’s still $175 million less than he wants. The Legislature also would restore full funding for prisons and agriculture extension programs and would give state-owned and state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, increases of 5 percent.  That is a lot of what the governor wanted, yet he is threatening another veto. That would be a mistake. The nature of compromise means nobody gets everything they want, and it is too late to solve the state’s long-term deficit in a budget that is nine months overdue.
It’s time for Mr. Wolf to sign this budget, prevent public schools from closing and move on to next year’s spending plan.”
PPG Editorial: Sign the budget: Reform is fine, but Wolf must OK spending first
Post Gazette By the Editorial Board March 20, 2016 12:00 AM
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a series of ethics reforms for state officials, and he probably has backed any Republican opposition into a corner because they are sensible.
In an atmosphere of public exasperation with Harrisburg, who would dare come out against new rules to rein in public officials? If the measures pass, elected officials and state employees would be banned from receiving gifts and would have to report outside income within specific ranges and political contributions from anyone with state contracts. In addition, Mr. Wolf wants to limit campaign contributions, prohibit the use of campaign funds for personal expenses and bolster staffing so more disclosure filings could be reviewed by state auditors.  These are good ideas and the Legislature should approve them. However — and it’s a big however — even if the measures are adopted, Mr. Wolf won’t be able to crow too loudly. The changes are important for the long term, but they pale in contrast to the state’s immediate financial crisis. And on the fundamental issue of the state’s 2015-16 operating budget, Mr. Wolf keeps digging the same hole.

Democrats line up behind GOP budget bill
Herald Standard By Christopher Buckley cbuckley@heraldstandard.com0 comments Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:30 pm | Updated: 12:02 am, Fri Mar 18, 2016.
Weary of months of a budget stalemate, Democratic lawmakers may be ready to cross the aisle and override a threatened veto by Gov. Wolf.  “It’s time to move this thing forward,” said state Rep. Pete Daley. “I’m almost positive that if he vetoes it, we have enough Democrats to override his veto.”  Thirteen House Democrats crossed the aisle Wednesday, Daley noted, adding it would take just seven more Democrats to vote to override the veto and end the eight-month budget stalemate.  “The public is so fed up with this quagmire,” the California Democrat said. “It’s killing so much in the state health care, social services. Some schools are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.”  In the past week, the Charleroi Area School District released a statement on its website saying in part that it could face the prospect of shutting its doors by May 1 without an infusion of state funding.  The partisan standoff has left billions of dollars in limbo and the state operating on a $23.4 billion budget, nearly $6 billion less than last year. Public schools are borrowing to stay open while Penn State has threatened to shut down agricultural extension offices across the state.

Schools weary of budget impasse
By ERICA ERWIN erica.erwin@timesnews.com20 Mar 2016 — Erie Times-News
The Erie School District will run out of money in April unless money starts flowing from the state.  The Union City Area School District has laid off 18 employees, and administrators have said more layoffs could be coming amid a budget impasse that has stretched 264 days.  Many other school districts throughout the Erie region aren't in the same position yet, operating off cash reserves and other state funding streams that should get them to or through the end of the school year in June. But the question remains: What then?  Crawford Central School District Business Manager Guy O'Neil plans to address the question with his school board at its Monday meeting.  The district isn't feeling the pinch just yet -- "I think we're good until the middle of June," O'Neil said -- but it is thinking ahead.  Administrators have already started talking to banks about the possibility of borrowing.

Memo to Gov. Wolf: Release federal education funds
Intelligencer Letter By Mike Fitzpatrick Posted: Sunday, March 20, 2016 12:15 am
Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick represents the 8th District, comprising all of Bucks County and part of Montgomery County.
Pennsylvania’s well-known budget impasse is more than that; it’s a stalemate of serious proportions affecting school districts from Philadelphia to Erie and Pittsburgh to Scranton.
From the outset, Gov. Tom Wolf has withheld distribution of federal education funds already paid to the state for everything from special education priorities to career and technical centers. The impact of the governor’s continued refusal to address the damage being done to school districts is well-documented — from districts pulling operating funds from “rainy day” accounts to potential bond and credit rating downgrades as many take on debt to keep classroom doors open.  Close to home, the Centennial and Souderton school districts enacted budget freezes in January. Bristol Borough School District is borrowing money to bridge the funding gap it faces. And in Quakertown, officials are attempting to cut millions from next year’s budget by June 30.  In all, a recent survey shows 39 percent of districts have been operating in this school year by drawing on reserves, making cuts and holding off on purchases and payments.

Officials say there's no money to pay teachers in East Allegheny School District
WTAE by Sheldon Ingram UPDATED 5:20 PM EDT Mar 18, 2016
NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. —Pennsylvania's budget crisis now has a vise grip on the East Allegheny School District.  School superintendent Donald MacFann says the district has no money to pay teachers.  Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visited Pittsburgh Brashear High School to spotlight its career and technical education programs Thursday, but also to warn of continuing danger to state education funding in the ongoing budget battle between the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled state Legislature..  "We have a choice. And it's a really stark choice," Wolf told students, teachers, and staff after his tour of the school.  "As of now, they will not be paid after March 25," MacFinn said.   Although teachers will not be paid after March 25, no layoffs are scheduled and school doors will remain open.  The East Allegheny School District sent a letter to parents on Monday, urging them to contact local state representatives and ask them to settle the budget impasse immediately.  The letter said that the district "cannot guarantee the delivery of high-quality educational service to our students" without a budget in place. 

Clarion Area School District: Temporary Closure, Layoffs Possible if Budget Stalemate Continues Posted by Jake Bauer Friday, March 18, 2016 @ 09:03 AM
The following open letter was submitted to by Clarion Area School District:
You may or may not be aware that our state government has not yet passed a complete state budget for 2015-16.  This budget was to be completed by June 30, 2015. As a result, Clarion Area School District, as well as many others in the area and across the state are in financial crisis. Governor Tom Wolf enacted a partial budget at the end of December that provided 45% of the funding owed for this current school year, and we are still waiting for the remaining subsidies that have not yet been approved.  Our school board and administration are now in the process of developing a 2016-17 budget; at the same time, we are unsure of what additional funding we will receive, if any, to cover the expenses for the remainder of the current 2015-16 school year. With no resolution to the budget impasse in sight, state funding is uncertain, and we are taking every step possible to provide quality education programs and services for our students. As you are aware from our previous public presentations, the Clarion Area School District has made numerous cuts in expenses over the past eight years and has reached a point where further cuts will have a drastic impact on our students and community.  It is important for our community to understand that, without immediate action from our state government to provide funding to schools, we will be completely out of money at the end of June 2016.

Pottsville Area discusses frustration with state budget
Republican Herald BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK Published: March 19, 2016
The Pottsville Area school board recently discussed some of the harsh realities of the state’s budget crisis.  “We are close to 300 days now without a full budget,” board member Patrick F. Moran, chairman of the board’s legislation committee, said Wednesday at the school board’s March meeting at the Howard S. Fernsler Academic Center.  “I’m coming up with 262 days, including today, since June 30, 2015,” Jon Hopcraft, executive director of the Senate Majority Policy Committee in the office of state Sen. David G. Argall, R-29, said Friday.  “Is that the longest in our history?” school board member Gary A. Cortese asked at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We do not suggest that this legislation adequately addresses the long-term needs of our schools. However, school closings in some Pennsylvania school districts — which seem sure to occur if passage of the budget is further delayed — will do unacceptable harm to Pennsylvania’s neediest children and their families.  “Please take the action necessary to bring this unfortunate situation to an end. Additionally, we urge you to work with the General Assembly to fully fund out public schools in the fiscal year 2016-2017 and beyond.”
Carlisle Area School Board challenges Wolf
Carlisle Area School Board took a stand Thursday by agreeing to send a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to sign into law new legislation that could end the state budget stalemate.  Board member Fred Baldwin prepared the initial draft of the letter stating passage of House Bills 1801 and 1327 could end a stalemate “that is inflicting grave damage to public education across the Commonwealth.”  Revisions were made before the board finalized the content and voted unanimously to have staff forward the letter to Wolf as early as Friday. In a show of unity, the letter will list the names of all nine board members on a district letterhead. The letter reads as follows:

Charleroi takes budget plea public
Herald Standard By Christopher Buckley cbuckley@heraldstandard.com0 comments Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 2:15 am | Updated: 7:49 am, Tue Mar 15, 2016.
Like many districts statewide, the Charleroi Area School District is living on borrowed money.
“We feel like we’re being held hostage,” said Superintendent Ed Zelich.  The district has already borrowed $4.5 million, and with a dwindling fund balance, it may have to borrow again if the ongoing state budget impasse continues.  “They need to find a solution instead of playing Republican/Democrat,” Zelich said. “They have to figure this out for the children. They’re our future leaders.”  The district took its concerns public, posting “A Message to the Community from the Charleroi Area School Board” on its website. In that message, the district indicates, “without significant funding relief from the state, the Charleroi Area School District may be forced to consider closure due to budgetary concerns by May 1, 2016.”

Green urges Wolf to sign GOP-passed budget
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: MARCH 19, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Philadelphia School Reform Commission member Bill Green Friday added his voice to those urging Gov. Wolf to adopt the Republican-crafted budget he has threatened to veto.
In a letter to the governor, the former SRC chairman noted that 261 days have elapsed without a new state budget, forcing cash-strapped districts to borrow millions of dollars to keep schools open.  "Your actions in December led schools to receive half of the year's funding to remedy the impact of the budget impasse," wrote Green, a Democrat like Wolf. "This action was unconstitutional as the state does not meet its legal obligation to provide for a thorough and efficient education to the commonwealth's children."  The governor has said he intends to veto a $6 billion supplemental spending plan developed by Republicans on the grounds it does not provide enough funding for schools or deal with a $2 billion deficit.

Wiley requests line-item veto of GOP budget plan Staff report March 19, 2016 01:05 AM
HARRISBURG -- State Sen. Sean Wiley on Friday requested that Gov. Tom Wolf exercise a line-item veto of the GOP's latest proposed state budget plan to release funding for schools and agriculture programs.  Wolf has indicated he would veto the proposal.  "As I said earlier this week, House Bill 1801 isn't built on a solid foundation and fails to address the issues faced by this Commonwealth,'' Wiley, of Millcreek Township, D-49th Dist, said in a release.  "I cannot and do not support this as a solution to our current impasse,'' he said. "That being said, schools and agriculture programs are out of time and it is irresponsible of the General Assembly to continue to deny them the funding while we continue to fight this out.''

Years of underfunding have crippled Pa. schools
York Daily Record Opinion by Mark Nicastre, Guest Columnist 3:48 p.m. EDT March 15, 2016
Mark Nicastre is communications director for Gov. Tom Wolf.
Pennsylvania's schools are struggling. It didn't happen overnight, and it’s not the result of the budget impasse. Right now, Gov. Tom Wolf is fighting to make sure that all schools have the sustainable resources they need to provide a high-quality education for our students, but the Legislature continues to stand in the way.  Gov. Wolf has proposed historic investments that would put Pennsylvania’s schools on the right track after years of devastating cuts. But instead of working with the governor to help fix our schools, Republicans simply sent him another out-of-balance budget that would cut $95 million from education and grow the deficit.  For years, Pennsylvania's schools have been underfunded. The previous administration cut $1 billion from public education, which resulted in teacher layoffs, program cuts and higher property taxes.  
But in addition to the previous administration’s cuts, schools' finances have been structurally damaged by the lack of funding over the course of the past five years.

Osborne, Murphy urge support for Gov. Wolf's budget
Times-Tribune BY DAVID SINGLETON Published: March 19, 2016
Two top members of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration returned home to Lackawanna County on Friday to drum up support for their boss’s proposed 2016-17 state budget.  Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne, Scranton, and Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy, Ph.D., Clarks Summit, spoke about the importance of the budget to the work of their agencies to about 30 health care providers and others at Allied Services.  Their remarks came as lawmakers in Harrisburg continue work on a new budget even as they try to resolve the still lingering 2015-16 budget impasse.  “We need the 2016-17 budget to continue our work, and we need Gov. Wolf’s budget,” Dr. Murphy said. “If we don’t ... the answer is cuts. Currently, the Department of Health is 47th in the country in funding for public health.  “I daresay we cannot afford to cut any more from the Department of Health. Instead, we have to invest. The governor’s budget does that.”

PSAP/PSP Statement on Pennsylvania Budget
Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners website March 17, 2016
The following joint statement comes from Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners Executive Director Mike Wang and Philadelphia School Partnership Executive Director Mark Gleason in response to the budget that was sent to Governor Wolf yesterday:
 “We join schools and others across the Commonwealth in urging Governor Wolf to sign the budget the legislature sent him yesterday. Schools in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania need a budget that funds education now, not later. Right now schools are focused on paying basic expenses so they can stay open this year; there is not enough time to spend a large funding increase before summer vacation. Additionally, budget uncertainty is hindering schools’ ability to budget for next year, as well as interview and hire new teachers and staff.  The Governor is correct that there is more work to do, on both sides of the aisle. We urge the Governor to sign this budget and then immediately get to work with the legislature on a 2016-17 budget, on adopting a bipartisan fair funding formula and on real accountability that will ensure the dollars improve outcomes for children in the most struggling schools.  Students and schools can’t afford to lose any more days to uncertainty.”

“Miss Erfman, who plans to major in education at the University of Scranton, said she thinks the current system pressures teachers to prepare students for tests rather than truly educating them — and that’s not the kind of teacher she wants to be.  Mr. Carroll said state lawmakers already removed the Keystone exams from the state’s graduation requirements, and minimizing Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams would be good policy.”
Students question NEPA lawmakers on budget impasse
Times Tribune by KYLE WIND, STAFF WRITER Published: March 19, 2016
LA PLUME TWP. — Nearly all of the 34 high school students raised their hands Friday when U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright asked who among them are poor standardized test-takers.  The 17th District Democrat posed the question to students from 11 area schools assembled in a Keystone College classroom during the Youth and Government Forum after Riverside student Cyrena Erfman asked state and federal lawmakers if they are planning reforms.  “Is there anything you are doing to try to change it?” the senior asked. “Some kids may be brilliant but are awful test-takers. They can’t sit still. They can’t focus.”  Along with Mr. Cartwright, the panel discussion — one of several happening simultaneously — included state Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald, and state Reps. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-114, Taylor, Mike Carroll, D-118, Avoca, and Karen Boback, R-117, Harveys Lake.

5 takeaways from the final Philly education town hall
Tuesday night, City Council members held their third and final community meeting on the state of public education at Thomas Edison High School in North Philadelphia. As the city heads into budget season, the idea behind these town halls is not to talk about the spreadsheets that make up our desperately underfunded school system, but to discuss the budget’s real-life effects on students. Or, as Councilwoman Helen Gym said, “how we live our schools.”  Here’s what was on the minds and hearts of the community last night:

Paying for preschool justifies Kenney's soda tax
Inquirer Editorial Updated: MARCH 20, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Soda and other sugary beverages would be taxed by the ounce under Kenney's plan.
A quarter of Philadelphia's residents live in poverty, and too many of its children grow up in dangerous neighborhoods and attend struggling schools. Even after decades of antipoverty efforts and education reforms, these problems persist with maddening certainty.
Mayor Kenney's bold plan to provide prekindergarten education in the parts of the city that need it most would give more of the youngest Philadelphians a better chance to succeed. Studies since the 1960s have shown that early-childhood education helps more students graduate from high school, go on to get and keep good jobs, and contribute to their communities. Kenney's plan would further enhance neighborhoods by improving recreation centers and libraries.

Commentary: Leaders must take right steps for Philly community schools
Philly Daily News Commentary by Chinara Bilaal & Amber Felton Updated: MARCH 18, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Chinara Bilaal is a member of ACTION United. Amber Felton is with Media Mobilizing Project.
WHILE MAKING education a central platform of his mayoral campaign last year, Jim Kenney joined dozens of ACTION United parents, teachers and staff and community members at Comegys school last spring to announce ambitious and exciting plans to open 25 new community schools in his first term. Council President Darrell Clarke also is talking about community schools as part of the solution to our education crisis.  We applaud Kenney's goal of trying to redress decades of underinvestment in minority communities with community schools, but he and Clarke, along with Schools Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission, should take the right steps to ensure the schools are truly transformational for students and the community.  
For at least a decade, the dominant idea about how to improve outcomes for children and youth has focused on control and compliance, but this approach has proved least effective for our most vulnerable students. Community schools, whose integrated approach to education includes in-house health services and community engagement, have been gaining traction across the country as a powerful alternative to public schools.  One city that has shown spectacular results with turning public schools into publicly run community schools is Cincinnati. In 2003, before introducing community schools in Cincinnati, only 51 percent of all students graduated. However, in 2014, when 34 out of 55 schools had adopted the community-school strategy, 82 percent of all students graduated.

Philadelphia Is Hiring Teachers, School Nurses, Counselors
Education Week District Dossier By Denisa R. Superville on March 17, 2016 8:15 AM
After rounds of budget cuts that slashed the number of school nurses and counselors in the Philadelphia School District, the school system announced Wednesday that it plans to hire 800 teachers, and nearly 60 school nurses and 50 counselors.  The announcement followed a commitment by Superintendent William Hite to have a nurse and counselor in every school.   Hite's plan, disclosed to school principals in early March, relies on the passage of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget. Ongoing disagreements between Gov. Wolf and the Republican-led state legislature have led to a months-long budget standoff.  Even with its reliance on outside forces, Hite's earlier pronouncement drew praise from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which said at the time that it welcomed the news.  "For years, the PFT has been at the forefront of a citywide fight to restore the counselors and nurses we lost to budget cuts," union president Jerry Jordan said in a statement then. 

Pennsylvania: Schools Near Financial Collapse Without State Budget
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch March 18, 2016 //
Lawrence Feinberg produces this comprehensive summary of news about education in Pennsylvania every day. It is an excellent resource, especially valuable during the state’s prolonged budget crisis. The failure of the legislature and governor to agree on a budget has wreaked havoc on the state’s schools.

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:

Briefing: Public Education Funding in Pennsylvania
Join attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a briefing on:
  • the current budget impasse
  • the basics of education funding
  • the school funding lawsuit
  • the 2016-2017 proposed budget
 1.5 CLE credits available to PA licensed attorneys.  Light breakfast provided.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT)
WHERE: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey - 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway 1st Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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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