Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 5, 2016: #PABudget wars: the drama continues…..

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup April 5, 2016:
#PABudget wars: the drama continues…..

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

The drama continues even as state budget impasse concludes
Lancaster Online Editorial LNP Editorial Board April 4, 2016
THE ISSUE: Gov. Tom Wolf allowed the remaining portion of the state Legislature’s 2015-16 budget to become law March 23, without his signature. The governor vetoed the accompanying fiscal code, because it “contains unconstitutional provisions, guts important environmental regulations and tries to establish legislative authority over issues that fall under executive jurisdiction,” according to a press release from Wolf's spokesman, Jeff Sheridan.
Pennsylvania’s budget impasse has come to an end. A $30 billion spending plan is in place. So we can stop talking about it, right?  We’re afraid not.  The fiscal battle may be finished, but the war between Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature may have just begun.  By choosing to let it become law without his signature, Wolf washed his hands of the budget, which he described as unbalanced. The murky conclusion was a microcosm of a messy nine-month tug of war.  Somebody needed to compromise. In the end, it was the governor — kind of. The exception: his decision to veto the fiscal code.  The fiscal code is legislation that accompanies the appropriations bill (the budget) that indicates how portions of the budget will be distributed, including among K-12 schools. Call it a 101-page instructions packet.  Without the fiscal code — the instructions — those dollars cannot be legally appropriated, because there is no signed agreement on how new funds can be spent.

FY 2016-2017 budget discussions in infancy, House GOP leaders say
The PLS Reporter Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, April 4, 2016
Tom Wolf said just a few short weeks ago that he was going to be letting the supplemental budget bill sent to his desk become law, all parties were eager to begin the discussions for how to solve the issues facing the next fiscal year’s spending plan in a serious way sooner rather than later.  In talking with The PLS Reporter Monday, the first day legislators returned to voting session since that announcement, two House Republican leaders said the discussions are taking place, but are only in the beginning stages.  “We’ve been having five-party discussions at a staff level, particularly on defining what the parameters for the budget for ’16-’17 are, if a deficit exists what is the interpretation of that deficit, trying to get everyone to agree on the numbers as we look to try and get that budget done,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana).  “It’s a numbers-focused discussion right now,” he added   lso lingering to be looked at by legislators is what to do with the Fiscal Code bill vetoed by Gov. Wolf that accompanied the budget supplemental bill that recently became law.

Impending deficit could cripple Philly schools
The state charter formula is driving the District toward bankruptcy, State Sen. Vincent Hughes says.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa April 4, 2016 — 11:45am
Superintendent William Hite has released the District’s new five-year plan, including significant new investments in schools and an internal turnaround strategy that relies on receiving a significant infusion of state aid –- a chancy prospect given the budget gridlock in Harrisburg.  But Philadelphia needs more than an agreement between the governor and General Assembly on how to raise and distribute basic education aid. The District’s solvency also hinges on making major changes to the way funds are distributed to charters, which now educate about a third of the city’s students.  Right now, the charter funding formula – coupled with recent court decisions restricting the power of the School Reform Commission to limit charter growth – is putting Philadelphia and some other districts on the path to bankruptcy, according to one state senator.
“This whole setup is broken,” said State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.) in a phone interview. “It is designed to fail. The charter school financing law bankrupts local school districts, and we’ve got to be frank, upfront, and honest about that.”

VIDEO: PSBA discusses impact of the budget impasse and pushes for on-time 2016-17 budget
The PLS Reporter Author: Alanna Koll/Monday, April 4, 2016 Runtime 4:46
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association held a press conference in the East Wing Rotunda to discuss the ongoing need for pension reform, adoption of the Basic Education Funding formula, PlanCon reimbursement funding, reimbursements to districts for interest payments due as the result of borrowing money during the budget impasse, and passing a 2016-17 state budget by June 30. 

"These are sacrifices, sacrifices that the school districts, students, parents, community and personnel had to endure from our Legislature and our governor not working together," Thompson said, at a Capitol news conference on Monday.”
School officials remind lawmakers of the consequences of the late state budget
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on April 04, 2016 at 2:57 PM, updated April 04, 2016 at 3:17 PM
Even though closure was brought to the 2015-16 state budget, school district officials from around the state gathered at the Capitol to remind Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers that their work is not done.    While districts were able to get through a nearly nine-month state budget debaclewithout having to close their doors, it wasn't without consequences that left some districts still teetering on the edge of a financial disaster.  More than $1 billion was borrowed and districts incurred, on average, $12,642 in interest charges and fees that must be paid without state help, said Stacey Thompson, a board member at Keystone School District in Clarion County.  Districts depleted reserves, leaving some 175 school districts facing the possibility of having to raise taxes above the state-set inflationary index for 2016-17. Additionally, 35 school districts' credit ratings were downgraded.

State school board group threatens state with lawsuit over construction money
Pennsylvania school official threatens state with breach-of-contract lawsuit over construction money
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau April 4, 2016
HARRISBURG — The leader of a statewide organization of school directors threatened Monday to file a lawsuit against the state for breaching its contract to pay for a portion of construction costs.  Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature need to work together to provide school the $306 million the districts are owed under a state law that guarantees Harrisburg will reimburse a portion of their costs to fix and construct school buildings, said Nathan Mains, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.  If Wolf and lawmakers do not provide the money, Mains said, the association will consider filing a lawsuit to compel the state to abide by its legally binding agreements known as PlanCon. "That is certainly one way to go … if they are not honoring their contracts," Mains said.  Mains spoke at a news conference at the Capitol, during which school directors from the Lehigh Valley were among those pleading for passage of a 2016-17 budget without the partisan fights that caused the 2015-16 budget to be finished nine months late and without the promised construction money.

School directors discuss pension reform, Basic Education Funding formula and on-time 2016-17 state budget at State Capitol
Dozens of school directors from across Pennsylvania gathered at the State Capitol on April 4 to meet with legislators and discuss several issues of concern, including the following:
  • The ongoing need for pension reform
  • Adoption of the Basic Education Funding formula
  • PlanCon reimbursement funding
  • Reimbursements to districts for interest payments due as the result of borrowing money during the budget impasse
  • Passing a 2016-17 state budget by the deadline of June 30
During a news conference in the East Wing Rotunda, PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains applauded public school officials as the real heroes of the last nine months as policymakers battled over a state budget.

Pa. Supreme Court hands Phila. School District huge setback
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 5, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission has come up empty in its bid to undo a recent, devastating state Supreme Court ruling that curtailed powers it thought it had.  The state's top court Monday turned down the SRC's request to reconsider a ruling it handed down in February that said the commission had no power to suspend parts of the state school code. The court said that a provision about special powers in the law that led to the state takeover of the city schools in 2001 was unconstitutional.  The commission had relied on those special powers in the last few years to close schools, bypass seniority in teacher assignments, and limit charter school growth.  In a petition filed last month asking the court to reconsider, the SRC warned that the ruling could have potentially "catastrophic" consequences for the district, especially if it was required to fund unrestricted growth at the 83 charter schools in the city.

Arbitrator: Philly Schools owe money to former nonteaching assistants
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 5, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
An arbitrator has ruled that the School District of Philadelphia owes money to former nonteaching assistants who took assignments in special-education classrooms.  Ralph Teti, an attorney for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, received the arbitrator's decision Friday.  He said the ruling would affect 50 to 60 staffers and could cost the district more than $1 million.   District spokesman Fernando Gallard said he could not comment because it was an active legal matter.  In the past, the district has appealed some arbitration decisions to the Court of Common Pleas.  The district eliminated the post of nonteaching assistant and laid off many of the people who had worked outside classrooms, monitoring hallways and lunchrooms.

“Citing the likelihood of another impasse over the next state budget, Moody's Investor Services has affirmed its negative credit rating for the Philadelphia School District.”
Philly schools retain 'junk bond' rating
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 5, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Citing the likelihood of another impasse over the next state budget, Moody's Investor Services has affirmed its negative credit rating for the Philadelphia School District.  Moody's highlighted the district's recent efforts to stabilize the finances of the city's schools. But the credit opinion released Friday said that the continued "Ba3" rating for the district's debt "reflects the continued uncertainty surrounding" the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and the potential impact it could have on the district's finances and ability to borrow money.  The "Ba3" rating means that the district's bonds are below investment grade, carry a high risk, and are within "junk bond" territory.  If the district receives new sources of stable funding, its credit rating would improve.

Charting School Discipline
Susan DeJarnatt  Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law
Kerrin C. Wolf  Stockton University
Mary Kate Kalinich  Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law
March 30, 2016 The Urban Lawyer (Forthcoming) 
Abstract:  Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students.  We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.   We hope that this work will spur future research on implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.

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
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.

Electing PSBA Officers – Applications Due by April 30th
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee during the month of April, an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by April 30 to be considered and timely filed. If said date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, then the Application for Nomination shall be considered timely filed if marked received at PSBA headquarters or mailed and postmarked on the next business day.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than two and no more than four letters of recommendation, some or all of which preferably should be from school districts in different PSBA regions as well as from community groups and other sources that can provide a description of the candidate’s involvement with and effectiveness in leadership positions. PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.

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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