Established in 2006, the Keystone State Education Coalition is a growing grass roots, non-partisan public education advocacy group of several hundred locally elected, volunteer school board members and administrators from school districts throughout Pennsylvania. Our mission is to evaluate, discuss and inform our boards, district constituents and legislators on legislative issues of common interest and to facilitate active engagement in public education advocacy.
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 24: "The state has said that students in other districts are worth more than you are. That's what this broken system says"
Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now
reach more than 3900 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors,
administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's
staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition
team members, Superintendents, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher
leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations,
education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory
agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via
emails, website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
Last week the state Senate passed HB 1552, which would make the Basic Education
Funding Formula permanent, by a vote of 49-1.
The formula would remove politics from state school funding decisions,
directing money to school districts based on objective factors, such as student
enrollment, the needs of the student population, school district wealth and
capacity to raise local revenue.
House is expected to consider and possibly vote on HB 1552 as early as Monday,
May 23. Ask your state Representative to vote 'yes' for House Bill 1552, which
would make the BEFC's school funding formula permanent.
Pension reform and
Internet gambling rolled into PA budget and tax talks
HARRISBURG — With
Memorial Day just days away, half of the state Legislature is expected to act
this week on a series of bills that could become bargaining chips in final
budget talks that will heat up next month.
The House's voting calendar, always subject to change, says lawmakers
are scheduled to take up a bill changing the state pension system for new
hires. Another bill on the docket would legalize fantasy sports and online
gambling while putting slot machines in airports. The governor will
consider the pension and gambling bills as part of broader budget talks,
specifically pertaining to new sources of revenue, said Wolf's
spokesman, Jeff Sheridan.The Republicans who
control the House and Senate want
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to enact the pension changes to limit taxpayer risk
over time by reducing the percentage of the guaranteed retirement payments workers
get. Under the bill, state employees and school teachers would have their
retirement savings invested in a guaranteed pension plan if they earn below
$50,000. Retirement savings for income above $50,000 would be put in a
"You deserve to know
what's going on," he told the gathered students. Badams said that stagnant funding from
Harrisburg has not been enough to cover expenses as the Erie schools have grown
in population, and that unequal school resources are the result. Badams emphasized disparities between
students in the Erie schools and those in county schools.
"The state has said
that students in other districts are worth more than you are. That's what this
broken system says," he said.
Badams: 'You deserve to know'
By MADELEINE O'NEILL
email@example.com May 2016 — Erie Times-News
Superintendent Jay Badams on Monday spoke to those who will be most affected by
potential cuts to the district's budget: the students. Badams traveled to the Erie School District's
four high schools to explain why he has asked the Erie School Board to consider
major budget cuts to make up for an expected $4.3 million shortfall in 2016-17. He has also proposed closing the district's
high schools and busing those students to other area schools as soon as 2017-18
to make up for the educational inequities a slashed budget would create. "It's kind of scary to hear about,"
said Alina Bovkun, a senior at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, who
said that rumors have been flying in the days since news broke of Badams'
proposals. "We've just been hearing they're going to be closing down the
schools." Badams spoke to a full
house in Collegiate Academy's auditorium, his first stop on a one-day tour that
also included Central Career and Technical School, East High School and Strong
Vincent High School.
Citizens Voice BY
MICHAEL BUFFER Published: May 24, 2016
WILKES-BARRE — The
Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted 8-1 Monday night to proceed with a plan to
cut programs and lay off dozens of teachers.
Ned Evans was the sole dissenting vote.
More than 200 people packed the meeting to witness the fate of a plan to
suspend library services and education courses in technology, family/consumer
science and art. Monday’s regular board
meeting at GAR Junior Senior High School began at 7 p.m. The public comment
portion of the meeting included more than 40 speakers and continued late into
the night. The school board was
considering a “horrible idea” to lay off 37 teachers and not replace 12
retiring teachers, said Jeff Ney, president of the Wilkes-Barre Area teachers’
union. “It’s not about myself,” said
Deborah Pride, a family/consumer sciences teacher at Meyers Junior Senior High
School. “I implore you to reconsider. It’s about the kids.” The layoffs and the cuts to programs and
services would take effect after the current school year.
Letter to the Editor: Inadequate school funding
jeopardizes Wilkes-Barre schools and state’s future
Letter by Russell A. Carpenella MAY 23RD, 2016 11:22 AM
Area School District is expected to cut its budget by $11 million over four
years. At least two high schools will be combined, class sizes will be larger,
and there will be fewer teachers. The
population of Wilkes-Barre isn’t going down significantly. Most kids in
Wilkes-Barre schools don’t have the economic choice of moving. These facts make me fear for the future of
this city – and the state as a whole. It’s well-known that poor education is a
precursor to poverty, and poverty is a precursor to crime. Unless Republican leadership in the state
Legislature steps up and starts funding our schools, many cities such as
Wilkes-Barre across the Keystone State will suffer. We can raise property taxes
only so high. We need a state budget that funds our schools.
School District residents' real estate taxes could increase by about 4 percent
in Armstrong County and 6 percent in Westmoreland County for next school year.
The school board
gave preliminary approval to a $13.9 million budget that is about $700,000 more
than this year's. Leechburg and Gilpin
residents can expect an average annual increase in property taxes of $76, while
in West Leechburg, the district's lone Westmoreland County community, residents
will pay about $132 more. The
preliminary budget is a “work in progress,” said school board member Anthony
Shea and Bill McNamee, the district's interim business manager. The state Department of Education approved
the district's request to raise taxes beyond the state-set limit of 3.5 percent
because the money is needed for increased pension and special education costs. Shea said the preliminary budget is a
“placeholder.” “No one wants to raise
taxes,” he said. “We will try to get the budget closer to a zero tax increase.
That may not happen, but that is our goal.”
The uptick in the 2016-17 budget mainly is because of increases in
contracted salaries and contributions to the Public School Employees'
Retirement System, McNamee said.
Trib Live BY GEORGE
GUIDO | Monday, May 23, 2016, 11:40 p.m.
Real estate taxes
will remain the same in the Apollo-Ridge School District next year.
The school board on
Monday approved a $24.1 million preliminary budget for the 2016-17 school year
that keeps the tax rate at 62.9 mills for residents of Apollo, North Apollo and
Kiski Township. Real estate taxes in the Indiana County portion of the school
district will remain at 14.9 mills.
equalization process mandated by the state, residents in different counties pay
about the same in real estate taxes even though the counties have different
By ERICA ERWIN
firstname.lastname@example.org May 2016 — Erie Times-News
residents will pay more in property taxes to their school district as part of a
budget that also eliminates some programs but largely retains staff. The Millcreek School Board on Monday passed a
$95 million final budget for 2016-17 that includes a nearly 0.20 mill tax
increase, bringing the millage rate to 13.7788. The increase translates into a
roughly $20 increase in annual property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home
or, put another way, an additional $2 in taxes for every $10,000 of a home's
assessed value. Board members Lou Aliota
and Mike Kobylka were the only "no" votes. "I cannot vote for a tax increase,"
Aliota said. Millcreek schools
Superintendent William Hall called the increase a good compromise. It is below
the 0.39 mill increase, or index, permitted under Act 1, the state's property
tax relief law.
Penn Hills School Board
Trying To Move Forward After District Audit
KDKA May 24, 2016
12:17 AM By Ralph Iannotti
PENN HILLS (KDKA) —
The Penn Hills School Board met Monday night in the first meeting since last
week’s bombshell audit report from the state auditor general, which strongly
criticized the district’s financial mismanagement. Virginia Dougherty, of Penn Hills, said, “We
feel we are caged animals, and in frustration, we turn on one another.” Former School Director Carolyn Faggioli
admitted when she was on the board, members knew they were faced with a
worsening financial situation. Faggioli
said part of the problem, she believed, was due to outside influence. “We need to get our
heads out of the sand,” Faggioli said. “We need to take politics out of the
school board; we will be much better off.”
Demand for Pre-K is high,
but availability varies across neighborhoods
The notebook by
Fabiola Cineas May 23, 2016 — 4:38pm
The School District
is making its spring push to enroll as many of the city’s 3- and
4-year-olds as possible in pre-kindergarten for the fall. Although the District wants more families to
sign up, this year the challenge is less about pre-K awareness among families
and more about access. That’s because in
certain neighborhoods, there just aren’t enough pre-K seats to match demand. In Kensington and
the Lower Northeast, for example, enrollment has already outpaced the available
seats. And when this happens, the enrollment process becomes a game and
Philadelphia is “like a big chess board,” said Diane Castelbuono, deputy chief
of the Office of Early Education, who leads the enrollment effort.
School District may miss
out on ride-sharing revenue
Inquirer by Jason Laughlin, Staff Writer @jasmlaughlin Updated: MAY 24, 2016 — 1:07 AM
An agreement between
Philadelphia, the Parking Authority, and ride-share businesses virtually
guarantees that the School District will not see a financial benefit if a bill
to regulate such services as UberX and Lyft is passed as written. Under the tax structure proposed by the bill,
ride-share businesses would likely have to generate much more money than
anticipated to create enough taxable income for the schools to benefit. The
structure is primarily designed to ensure that the Parking Authority will recover
the cost - as much as $4 million - expected to be spent on regulating an
estimated 15,000 vehicles used in ride sharing, a PPA spokesman said. The point of the bill was to ensure that ride
sharing had a legal framework in the city, said Brian Abernathy, a deputy
managing director and a mediator in negotiations. Money to the district would
have been a nice side benefit, but wasn't the goal. "The city would love to see the School
District get additional revenue, but this isn't a School District revenue
bill," he said.
First it looked like
it was for the kids, and now it looks like it’s for the Parking Authority.
A bill in the state
Senate that would allow alternative taxi services like Uber and Lyft to operate
legally was initially written so that the tax revenue the services generated in
Philly would be split between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the
Philadelphia School District, with two thirds of the money going to education.
But the bill, which was approved by the state House Committee on
Consumer Affairs earlier this month, has undergone an obscure
but meaningful change. In the current version, PPA is guaranteed $4 million in
revenue from Uber and Lyft before the schools can collect a dime. The first version of the bill levied
a 1 percent tax on the total revenue from all fares in Philadelphia. Two thirds
of that was to be given to the School District, with one third given to the
Philadelphia Parking Authority, which would be charged with regulating the
services in the city. But the latest version of the bill approved
by the House committee lays out a different scheme.
DN Editorial: Charter
Schools Office rightly exercising its power
Philly Daily News Updated: MAY
23, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT
IMAGINE A FEW
students whose year-end report cards show so many failing grades that the
teacher recommends that they not graduate. Now suppose the principal intervened
and said, "Not so fast, let's give them another chance." This would not be good for the students, or
for teachers, or for the school system, and it would be bad for education
overall. In a way, that's what happened
last week during the process of renewing a handful of charter schools, during a
meeting of the School Reform Commission. The district's Charter Schools Office
recommended nonrenewals for four schools; Vare and Audenreid, run by Kenny
Gamble's Universal Companies, and Stetson and Olney High School, run by Aspira. The SRC essentially passed on voting to
support these nonrenewals, and gave Aspira a week to prove it can fix the many
financial and governance problems that were brought to light in the charter
office's renewal reports, which evaluates schools on academic success,
organizational viability, and financial health and sustainability.
When it comes to the
story of Massachusetts’s public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s
former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good
enough.” Massachusetts is widely seen as
having the best school system in the country: Just 2 percent of its
high-schoolers drop out, for example, and its students’ math and reading scores
rank No. 1 nationally. It even performs toward the top on international education
indices. But as Reville and others
intimately familiar with the Bay State’s school-improvement efforts emphasized
in a panel at the Education Writers Association National Seminar earlier this
month, the “Massachusetts story” is complicated. The Bay State’s famous
successes are juxtaposed with stubborn achievement gaps and concentrations of
poverty that have made across-the-board strides all but impossible.
Income-based disparities in academic performance have actually grown over the
last decade or so, and last year the state’s achievement gap was the third
highest in the nation.
Association BLOG: THE EDUCATED REPORTER MAY 20, 2016 by ERIK ROBELEN
With state testing
season wrapping up, the decision by some families to skip the K-12 exams in
protest this spring has once again sparked widespread discussion – and news
coverage around the country. In San
Diego, for example, teachers handed out fliers to parents earlier this month
informing them of the right to keep their children from taking state tests, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A
local teachers’ union official cited worries about the amount of testing, as
well as its relevance and accuracy for gauging student learning. In Tennessee, where the opt-out movement appeared to be gaining steam this
spring, as reported by Chalkbeat Tennessee and other outlets, it became a moot
point after the bulk of state testing for grades 3-8 was canceled altogether in
April. That decision followed a series of problems with the administration of
the assessments for English language arts and math. The actions come as concerns have risen about
the volume of standardized testing at the K-12 level, its perceived impact on
instruction, and its use in evaluating schools, students and teachers.
The Supreme Court ruled
unanimously on Monday that a group of Virginia Republican lawmakers appealing
over a court-ordered redistricting plan didn't have the legal standing to bring
their case. This ends a long argument over redrawing Virginia's third
congressional district without implying that incumbent lawmakers have the right
to a fair shot at reelection. The case, Wittman v.
Personhuballah, dealt with the argument around Virginia's 3rd
congressional district, redrawn as part of the state's redistricting in 2012.
The new boundaries drawn by the state legislature slightly increased the share
of black voters in the district, which is heavily Democratic, from 53 percent
to 56 percent. A federal trial court
ruled that this was racial gerrymandering — that the Republican-dominated state
legislature was drawing boundaries based on voters' races, which isn't allowed,
rather than for other, permitted purposes, such as protecting incumbents. And
after the Virginia legislature couldn't agree on how to redraw the district,
the court did it for them.
Another day, another
fight in the education world. This one is worth delving into because it is
really not about who said what but about fundamental understandings — and
misunderstandings — of standardized testing data and how it drives policy. This one started when education activist
Campbell Brown said that two-thirds of U.S. eighth graders are below grade
level in reading and math. Tom Loveless, a former Harvard professor and teacher
who researches student achievement, then tweeted that he has never seen data
showing that, and asked Brown to explain her sourcing. She said that she was
referring to proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP, as the test is known, is sometimes
referred to as “the nation’s report card” because it is seen as the most
consistent measure of U.S. student achievement since the 1990s. It is
administered every two years to groups of U.S. students in the fourth and
eighth grades, and less frequently to high school students. When Loveless told
her that NAEP proficiency scores do not refer to grade level, a social media
fight ensued between Campbell and her critics.
In this post, Carol Burris, a former award-winning high school principal
who got involved in the Twitter exchange, explains why the substance of this
The Timothy M.
Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School
Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school
director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in
legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that
are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s
Legislative Platform. The 2016 Allwein Award nominations will be
accepted starting today and all applications are due by July 16, 2016. The
nomination form can be downloaded from the website.
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.
Principals Association Monday, March 21, 2016 9:31 AM
To register, contact Dr. Joseph Clapper at email@example.com 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
PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators
- PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of
Supervision and Curriculum Development
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
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,
Speaker of the
House Rep. Mike Turzai, (717) 772-9943
House Majority Leader Rep. Dave Reed, (717)
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe
Scarnati, (717) 787-7084
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jake Corman, (717)