Sunday, March 27, 2016

PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup March 27: #PABudget Post Mortem

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup March 27, 2016:
#PABudget Post Mortem



PSBA Advocacy Forum & Day on the Hill 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. 

Campaign for Fair Education Funding - Rally for Public Education
Save the date: May 2nd at the Capitol



The #voterregistration deadline for the #PaPrimary is 3/28
Online PA Voter Registration here:


EPLC "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - Sunday, March 27 at 3:00 p.m. 
Part 1: A Discussion on High School Career and Technical Education in Pennsylvania, featuring:
Dr. Lee Burket, Director, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, PA Department of Education; Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, PA Association of Career and Technical Administrators; Dan Fogarty, Director of Workforce Development / Chief Operating Officer, Berks County Workforce Development Board; Seth Schram, Principal, Chester County Technical College High School - Brandywine Campus
Part 2: A Discussion on Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania and Statewide and National Arts Education Advocacy, featuring:
Jenny L. Hershour, Managing Director, Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania

Ratings agencies see much not to like in Pennsylvania budget
WTAE Published 10:40 AM EDT Mar 26, 2016
HARRISBURG, Pa. —In the days after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf finally put a stake in the Pennsylvania budget impasse that has captured the Capitol for more than a year, his office wasted no time in publicizing three analyses by financial firms that delved into what it means for the state's future. The reviews were anything but positive.  The administration late this week highlighted reports from Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and PNC Financial Services Group that each, in different ways, found much to criticize in how Pennsylvania policymakers have been doing their jobs.

Pennsylvania budget ignores fiscal challenges, credit rating agency says
Reading Eagle by The Associated Press Saturday March 26, 2016 12:01 AM
HARRISBURG — A credit rating agency on Thursday welcomed the end of Pennsylvania's nine-month budget stalemate but said the spending package doesn't resolve the state's structural budget deficit or address its looming pension crisis.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf backed off a veto threat and agreed to permit a Republican-penned $6.6 billion supplemental spending package to become law, saying he relented because it was "time to move on" and start work on the next budget.  Moody's said Thursday that while the budget represents an improvement over "political gridlock," it fails to address the state's long-term fiscal challenges.  "The approved budget ... casts no light on the government's ability to reach compromise on its long-term fiscal challenges," Moody's said in a statement.  Noting Pennsylvania faces sharply higher pension costs, the agency said the budget fails to fully fund public employee pensions. It said Pennsylvania's willingness to address the pension crisis "in spite of what could be slow tax revenue growth will be a major factor in the commonwealth's credit profile."

Standard & Poor’s Says PA Budget Outlook Is Negative
Reuters by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services MARCH 24
BRIEF-S&P says Pennsylvania debt ratings affirmed and off creditwatch after budget impasse ends  * Pennsylvania debt ratings affirmed and off creditwatch after budget impasse ends; outlook negative.  * Negative outlook reflects view that lawmakers still face a projected budget gap for fiscal 2017  * In the immediate term, passage of budget gives lawmakers starting point to address projected fiscal 2017 budget gap Source text (bit.ly/1RBRuVw) (Bengaluru Newsroom; +1 646 223 8780; )

New budget leaves plenty of room for improvement: Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board  on March 25, 2016 at 2:00 PM
After nearly nine months, Pennsylvania's longest-ever budget stalemate ended not with a bang but with a whimper.  Lots of whimpering, actually.  And for good reason: Other than closing the book on what ended up being a roughly $30 billion 2015-16 spending plan, Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers accomplished precious little.  Democrat Wolf was unable to secure the additional funding he sought for education or any of the new taxes he insisted were necessary to balance what he says are hopelessly out of whack fiscal scales that will lead to future shortfalls.  The statehouse's Republican majority couldn't agree among themselves on a budget that would address systemic shortfalls, or on public pension reform to address the budget's number one cost driver.

Wolf warns of impending 2016-17 budget crisis
GoErie By Ron Leonardi  814-870-1680 Erie Times-News March 25, 2016 01:46 PM
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday warned Pennsylvanians that state finances are far from healthy despite his decision Wednesday to allow the Republican-backed 2015-16 state budget to become law.  Wolf said Thursday he has to move forward and address a looming $2 billion deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and he warned in a blog post that "we need a budget Pennsylvanians can be proud of -- one that funds essential services, invests in education, eliminates the $2 billion deficit, and brings us back from the brink. That's our job.''
Wolf on Wednesday announced he would not veto a Republican-backed, $6.6 billion spending plan that is part of a $30 billion 2015-16 state budget.  Wolf's decision ended a nine-month budget impasse that has dragged on since the start of the state's current fiscal year on July 1.  Wolf on Thursday said he will allow the 2015-16 budget to become law without his signature.

“Perhaps the most immediate impact of a veto will be the halt on new school construction borrowing. House and Senate GOP leaders said they will have to consider the ramifications of that.  Wolf said authorizing new bond debt to cover school building expenses would be prohibitively costly right now. This is due to inflated costs resulting from the lack of efforts in the 2015-16 state budget to address a built-in $2 billion state revenue deficit, he added.  Many districts are saddled with debt payments for construction projects and some $300 million in state aid to help districts with these payments has been held up during the impasse, said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.”
New Wolf veto (fiscal code) to have impact
Citizens Voice BY ROBERT SWIFT Published: March 27, 2016
HARRISBURG — The nine-month impasse over the state budget ended last week with one piece of unfinished business remaining.  Gov. Tom Wolf will let a $6.6 billion supplemental budget bill written by Republican lawmakers become law without his signature so schools and publicly supported universities get needed state aid to stay open.  But Wolf plans to veto an accompanying fiscal code bill that spells out how some of the money in the budget is spent.  The fiscal code bills were an afterthought in the budget process until perhaps a decade ago. Then they started to be loaded up with other provisions — policy matters or spending earmarks attached by lawmakers so they could be enacted in the rush to pass a budget. Many of the earmarks in these bills are written in a sort of code — a specific amount of money for a health care facility in a city of the third class or county of the fourth class, for example. So it takes some sleuthing to find out who the beneficiaries of these earmarks are.

Viewpoints from Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and James Paul, analyst at the Commonwealth Foundation…
Analysts: Schools short-term winners, long-term losers in new budget
York Dispatch by  Katherine Ranzenberger, 505-5439/@YDKatherine4:38 p.m. EDT March 24, 2016
Pennsylvania budget analysts agree schools are the biggest winners — at least in the short term — with the 2015-16 budget set to become law.  The new budget will go into effect Monday. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday he would not veto the budget, as he previously had threatened to do.  Analysts from the two state policy think tanks looked at the numbers Wednesday and offered varied views on winners and losers in the state budget resolution.

The next Pa. budget: Have we learned anything? Can we help ourselves?
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 25, 2016 at 7:15 AM, updated March 25, 2016 at 10:20 PM
That was interesting.  270 days after the due date, all the policy and spending questions (most of them anyway) at the core of Pennsylvania's never-ending 2015-16 budget debate have been resolved.  But state budgets, like Easter Sundays and baseball seasons, come around every year.  So in a few short months, the pressure will be on Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders to craft another spending plan for the sixth-largest state in America. This time for the 2016-17 budget, which should take effect July 1.  Our discussion point for the day: Can this be better? Or, in the words of the U2 song, are we "stuck in a moment that we can't get out of?"
Here are some reasons to be hopeful, and some reasons to worry.

Inquirer Editorial: Public schools shouldn't have to beg for money
Inquirer Updated: MARCH 27, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. doesn't plan to ask City Council for more money this year, but that doesn't mean public schools don't need it. When Hite told reporters in a budget briefing Thursday that he wouldn't make that "ask," one couldn't help thinking he might be tired of begging the city for money to educate its children.  The School District's share of the $30 billion state budget that will go into effect without Gov. Wolf's signature is not only very late but also close to last year's $1.38 billion, with a relatively modest $52 million increase expected. That will allow the district to finish the school year, but it will remain challenged by the fiscal mire created by former Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts.  This year's state budget, which arrived nine months past its due date because the Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature couldn't agree on spending and taxes, forced school districts across the state to borrow money to stay open. Loans will cost the Philadelphia schools $8 million in debt service.

Pennsylvania Played Chicken with Budget
Morning Call Bill White Contact Reporter March 24, 2016
Gov. Wolf had no choice but to let budget go through
 As I’ve written before, there’s plenty of criticism to go around in the state budget impasse, which had a devastating effect on our schools and social services.  I thought new Gov. Tom Wolf poisoned the well with some of his early comments, making it more difficult to sell a compromise when he finally decided that was necessary, and you could argue that he extended the impasse by not allowing the lack of a budget to shut down state services.  I thought House Democrats showed too much resistance to changes in public employee pensions and our state liquor control system. And the fact that House and Senate Republicans can’t get along added an extra monkey wrench to the situation.  Mostly, though, I blame conservative House Republicans who months ago shot down an attempt at a compromise agreement and have clung for whatever reason to the idea that Pennsylvanians loved the job Tom Corbett did as governor, pursuing his same strategy of employing budgetary tricks to avoid facing the reality of a structural deficit that continues to drag down the state’s credit rating.

“Yep, after nine months without a budget, they’re still not deviating from the Republican playbook or even pretending to address the independently verified fact of Pennsylvania’s massive structural budget deficit.”
Budget tricks are for kids
Chambersburg Public Opinion1:26 p.m. EDT March 25, 2016
 “I hope the governor has learned a lesson from the painful mess that he caused ...”
That was Republican state Sen John H. Eichelberger Jr.’s response this past week to Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to allow the unbalanced Republican budget for last year to take effect without his approval.  Here’s what Franklin County’s Republican senator, Rich Alloway said:
“How we proceed from here is largely up to Governor Wolf. The actions and attitude of his Administration have set the tone for the budget debate, and that tone has been undeniably negative. However, if he is willing to work in a cooperative, bipartisan manner ...'

“Lawmakers and Wolf might start with heeding the message of a new Franklin & Marshall College poll that found 79 percent of voters believe their elected leaders should compromise to complete the budget. Just 17 percent said elected officials should be unyielding on principles even if the budget doesn’t get passed.
In addition to the structural deficit, the two sides left on the table a number of issues critical to Pennsylvania’s future, including the state’s long-term pension crisis and local property tax reform. Republicans would also like to finally get the state out of the liquor business, something we have long supported.”
Editorial: Time to get to work on next Pa. budget
Centre Daily Times Opinion March 25, 2016
A considerable amount of the coverage and commentary about the end to Pennsylvania’s infuriating budget impasse focused on which side of the political aisle got the better of it.
Let’s be clear. Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians got the worst of it. They deserve better. Much better.  After threatening another veto, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday gave up on the stare-down and said he’d let the rest of the 2015-16 budget take effect without his signature. That means the state will at last have a complete budget — nearly nine months after it was supposed to have one and a little more than three months before it’s supposed to have another.  That’s welcome news for local school systems, at least in the immediate sense. Their leaders will no longer have to worry about shutting down schools or borrowing money to keep them going. But that relief didn’t come before school districts had paid more than $40 million in interest and fees.
The final, stitched-together $30 billion budget does contain $200 million more for public schools, half of what Wolf sought. And it includes no broad-based tax increases, which is what Republicans in the legislature were most against.

EDITORIAL: Pa. budget impasse ends but sour taste remains
Pottstown Mercury Editorial POSTED: 03/27/16, 2:00 AM EDT |
The trickle-down theory is alive and well in Harrisburg. The misery continues to trickle down. Well into month nine of a disgraceful budget impasse, Gov. Tom Wolf finally caved in and signed a House measure that frees some money for schools and human services.  The state now has a budget — for the 2015-16 fiscal year.  But the end of the budget impasse but does little to address the larger goals of insuring adequate and predictable school funding, getting under control ballooning pension obligations or eliminating the property tax.  The drumbeat of who had been hurt by this impasse sounds: First it was schools. Then it was social programs, followed by early learning and Pre-K programs.  All have been squeezed by the failure of Democratic Gov. Wolf and the Republican Legislature to agree on a spending plan.

Editorial: Expect more of the same from Harrisburg
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 03/27/16, 5:15 AM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
The battle is over, but the war rages on.  Well, sort of. Welcome to what passes for governing in Pennsylvania.  Gov. Tom Wolf, who campaigned on the notion of being “a different kind of governor,” is that all right, but probably not in the way he imagined. Insistent on a big increase in spending and a hefty tax hike to fund it, Wolf learned the way of Harrisburg. That was nine months ago. The “new kind of governor” looked a lot like the way things always get done in the state Capitol - kicking and screaming.  After a nine-month standoff with state legislators over the 2015-16 budget, Wolf has kindly agreed to not veto the spending bill, thus allowing state funds, aka your tax dollars, to finally flow out to school districts across the commonwealth.
In other words, he’s simply letting the legislation lapse into law, and on Easter Sunday no less.

Gov. Wolf made the right call on Pa. budget
York Daily Record Editorial by YDR editorial board 5:16 p.m. EDT March 24, 2016
He did the sensible thing by letting the budget become law without his signature.
In January, state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said Republican lawmakers had Gov. Tom Wolf “down on the floor with our foot on his throat and we let him up. Next time, we won't let him up.”  They didn’t let him up.  They passed yet another budget bill they knew he opposed (foot on throat) and then just stood there waiting for him to run out of political oxygen.  Unless Mr. Wolf was willing to let schools run out of money and shut down, his suffocation was inevitable.  The governor can talk until he’s blue in the face about how the GOP budget is full of unsustainable gimmicks and doesn’t properly address a deficit that’s barreling north of $2 billion. But he is one; legislative Republicans are many. It would be a lot easier to pin the school shutdown tail on one donkey than on a herd of elephants.

Editorial: On Pennsylvania's finally resolved budget stalemate, and the not-so-resolved state of American politics
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board Mar 25, 2016
THE ISSUE
After a budget stalemate that lasted about nine months, Pennsylvania will finally have a full budget for 2015-16, leaving Illinois as the only state without one in the country.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s quest for “a multibillion-dollar tax increase from a Republican-controlled Legislature to fund a record increase in public school aid ultimately fell far short — he got half the aid he wanted,” The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Instead, Wolf announced he would allow a Republican $6.6 billion supplemental spending package with no new taxes to become law on Monday. It will allow public schools to remain open, and will fund prisons, health care spending and agriculture programs, including Penn State Extension offices.
So what was gained from Pennsylvania’s embarrassing, marathon budget impasse?
Sadly, it seems, not much at all.  Schools will be able to finish the academic year, but many will remain on shaky fiscal ground. The state remains in the liquor business. Employee pensions will continue to keep school administrators awake at night. And don’t be surprised if your local school district has to raise property taxes yet again.  The final product wasn’t a compromise — the governor won’t even sign the Republican budget bill, because it doesn’t address the state’s structural deficit. And on Thursday, Moody’s, the credit rating agency, said as much, too.

Our view: Get to work on next Pa. budget -- now
GoErie.com Editorial March 25, 2016 09:58 AM
ERIE, Pa. -- A considerable amount of the coverage and commentary about the end to Pennsylvania's infuriating budget impasse focused on which side of the political aisle got the better of it.  Let's be clear. Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians got the worst of it. They deserve better. Much better.  After threatening another veto, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday gave up on the stare-down and said he'd let the rest of the 2015-16 budget take effect without his signature. That means the state will at last have a complete budget -- nearly nine months after it was supposed to have one and a little more than three months before it's supposed to have another.  That's welcome news for local school systems, at least in the immediate sense. Their leaders will no longer have to worry about shutting down schools or borrowing money to keep them going. But that relief didn't come before school districts had paid more than $40 million in interest and fees.

Holmes: York schools take giant steps toward reform
The message is simple: Everyone in this community has the capacity to positively influence the lives of York’s children.
York Daily Record Opinion by Eric Holmes, Guest Columnist 9:19 a.m. EDT March 25, 2016
Eric Holmes is superintendent of the School District of the City of York.
We have passed the halfway mark for the 2015-16 school year and would like to update you, our community, on our progress since we last communicated in August.  We have taken giant steps forward toward the implementation of several high-stakes reforms at both the district and individual school level. These initiatives have been our primary focus during the year. Change at this level is never easy, and the challenges that our children, our school district and our city face will not disappear overnight. However, we refuse to fail.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the school year, we are focusing on six initiatives that we believe will eventually lead to growth in student achievement.  I am especially proud of our district’s commitment to early childhood education. Since the 2007-08 school year, the district has offered high-quality Pre-K to this city’s 4-year-olds.

Delco school districts happy Pa. budget impasse is over
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 03/25/16, 10:24 PM EDT | UPDATED: 1 HR AGO
Local school districts are celebrating that the state will finally have a budget in place on Monday morning, easing nine months of tension that held up distribution of funds for education programs.  Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday afternoon strayed from his firm stance of vetoing Republican-drafted House Bill 1801 by allowing the $7 billion to become law without his signature effective, 12:01 a.m. March 28. The total budget sits at $30 billion.  The budget includes a boost of over $150 million in basic education subsidies and $50 million in ready to learn block grants.  Specific monetary allotments with a bump in basic education funding – and $80 million more in other education areas – per school district would not be known under House Bill 1327, legislation that amends the state’s financial code that implements the 2015-16 budget and distribution of funds.  “It’s a wonderful relief for school districts,” said Springfield School District Superintendent Anthony Barber.

“One representative only would talk about reforming pension plans to cut expenses. Anyone who has looked at the proposals for pension reform in any detail understands that reforms do not cut expenses today, like that required to balance the budget. They would only cut those expenses 10-20 years in the future. Pension reform is a good thing, it just won't help right now.”
Blame clueless legislators for lack of budget | Opinion
Chuck Ballard By Express-Times guest columnist  on March 22, 2016 at 7:32 AM, updated March 22, 2016 at 7:33 AM
Chuck Ballard, of Emmaus, is a member of the East Penn School Board. This column represents his own opinion, not that of the East Penn School District or its board.
In the last couple of weeks I had the distinct displeasure of talking to two state legislators in my area about the lack of a state budget. All I received is the distinct impression that neither understands basic economics or budgeting.  When presented with the fact that the Independent Fiscal Office and the rating agency Standard and Poors (both nonpartisan) stated the so-called 'budget(s)' for 2015 passed by the House are structurally deficient — that is, revenue does not cover expenses — neither could or would state any real means to fix the problem.  If revenues do not meet expenses, there are only two choices to fix the problem —  raise revenues or cut expenses. Or both. Raising revenues usually requires raising taxes (unpopular) and both representatives are against raising any broad-based taxes (e.g., sales or income). Cutting expenses usually means cutting services, and that is unpopular too. Apparently more so in an election year.

Pa. voters support severance tax, increased tobacco taxes
Citizens Voice BY ROBERT SWIFT Published: March 26, 2016
HARRISBURG — By large margins, Pennsylvania voters support a severance tax on natural gas production and increased tobacco taxes which affect smaller proportions of taxpayers as a way to balance the state budget, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released this week.
However, voters by similarly large margins oppose hiking the state personal income tax to get Pennsylvania out of a $2 billion built-in revenue deficit. Opinion is divided closely on extending the state sales tax to include more items, the poll found. For example:
■ 73 percent of respondents support a severance tax compared to 22 percent who oppose it.
■ 79 percent support new taxes on the sale of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and cigars compared to 18 percent who oppose them.
■ 69 percent oppose hiking the income tax compared to 28 percent who support it.
■ 45 percent support expanding the sales tax to include more items compared to 51 percent who oppose it.
Nearly half of the respondents (44 percent) favor both spending cuts and tax hikes to deal with the revenue deficit, while 35 percent favor cutting state programs and services only and 12 percent favor increasing taxes only.

Receiver quits at troubled Chester Upland district
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer Updated: MARCH 26, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
Francis V. Barnes, a former Pennsylvania secretary of education, said Friday that he is resigning as receiver of the troubled Chester Upland School District, effective May 1.  Barnes was appointed chief recovery officer for the district by a Delaware County judge last July after the state sought to replace Joseph Watkins, who had attempted some unorthodox measures to save the faltering school system.  The most audacious of Watkins' proposals was a partnership with a Chinese businessman to bring a $1 billion investment into the district and community. The deal, along with Watkins' planned trip to China, was scuttled by state education officials. After that, in 2014, the state appointed Barnes as chief recovery officer to work with Watkins. Watkins left last summer for a social media firm.  Barnes, 66, informed the school board on Thursday that he was giving up the $144,000-a-year post.

“Coles, 38, said she's running to put a legislator who "consistently votes with the Democratic caucus" back in office. A supporter of abortion rights and a fierce advocate for the public school system, Coles said she plans to advocate for issues that she said Davidson has abandoned.
"I think it's key to our Democratic values that we are for public education and not for accepting interest or finances from entities that want to privatize our schools," Coles said.  In 2011, Davidson faced blowback when she sided against Democrats on abortion restrictions and school vouchers - government-funded grants used to pay for part of a student's private K-12 tuition. She was one of only four House Democrats to support vouchers.  Davidson's campaign has received financial support from Students First Pa., a pro-voucher and pro-charter school PAC, receiving $70,500 from the organization between 2010 and 2014.”
Erstwhile allies square off in Delco House race
Inquirer by Caitlin McCabe, Staff Writer Updated: MARCH 27, 2016 — 6:49 AM EDT
When State Rep. Margo Davidson - the first Democrat, first woman, and first African American to represent her Delaware County district - was fiercely challenged by two members of her own party in 2014, she had an ally in Upper Darby Councilwoman Sekela Coles.  Two years later, the Delaware County legislator is confronting the same situation again: challenged from within her own party. But this time, Coles isn't in Davidson's corner - she's leading the charge against the Democratic incumbent, who has drawn attention for her


Don’t Grade Schools on Grit
New York Times Opinion By ANGELA DUCKWORTH MARCH 26, 2016
Angela Duckworth is the founder and scientific director of the Character Lab, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the forthcoming book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”
Philadelphia — THE Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”  Evidence has now accumulated in support of King’s proposition: Attributes like self-control predict children’s success in school and beyond. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a groundswell of popular interest in character development.  As a social scientist researching the importance of character, I was heartened. It seemed that the narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores from the years I taught in public schools was giving way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.  These days, however, I worry I’ve contributed, inadvertently, to an idea I vigorously oppose: high-stakes character assessment. New federallegislation can be interpreted as encouraging states and schools to incorporate measures of character into their accountability systems. This year, nine California school districts will begin doing this.

Kansas lawmakers pass schools plan, but budget issues loom
Washington Times By JOHN HANNA - Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Before starting their annual spring break, Kansas lawmakers approved an education funding plan designed to satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate to help poor school districts. They also agreed on an overhaul of the juvenile justice system and new protections for religious groups on college campuses.  But the Republican-dominated Legislature is likely to face difficult budget issues when it reconvenes April 27 to wrap up its business for the year. Lawmakers also have a host of other issues they could consider.
The status of major issues when legislators adjourned Thursday:


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: www.pasa-net.org/2016edcongress.

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
TUE, APR 12 AT 8:30 AM, PHILADELPHIA, PA
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.

Join the Pennsylvania Principals Association at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, for its second annual Principals' Lobby Day.
Pennsylvania Principals Association Monday, March 21, 2016 9:31 AM
 To register, contact Dr. Joseph Clapper at clapper@paprincipals.org by Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If you need assistance, we will provide information about how to contact your legislators to schedule meetings.
Click here for the informational flyer, which includes important issues to discuss with your legislators.

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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