Monday, June 13, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 13: Education funding formula doesn't go far enough

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 13, 2016:
Education funding formula doesn't go far enough



PA Ed Policy Roundup will not publish on Tuesday; we’re in DC for NSBA’s 2016 Advocacy Institute and visits on Capitol Hill.  We’ll be back online on Wednesday.




Eugene DePasquale: Fixing Pa.'s worst-in-nation charter school law is overdue
Morning Call Opinion by PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale June 11, 2016
Almost two decades after Pennsylvania authorized their creation, some public charter schools are doing great things for students and offering new ways to learn. However, both school district and charter school officials agree serious problems exist with the law and how it is enforced.  Based on our audits of school districts and charter schools, as well as on feedback at meetings I held across the state, it's clear that the original intention of the charter school law has not been fulfilled. We owe it to students, parents and taxpayers to regroup and make some fundamental changes to improve oversight and accountability of Pennsylvania's charter schools.  Two common themes arose in the public meetings and audits of school districts and charter schools:
•School districts and charter schools continue to struggle with the often-confusing provisions of the 1997 charter school law and the 2002 cybercharter school amendments.
•Improvements are needed in the unpredictable, inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent guidelines from the commonwealth's Education Department.

Mapping: How Pa.'s new school funding formula measures district need
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY JUNE 13, 2016
Pennsylvania's new education funding formula acknowledges that 74 school districts across the commonwealth face burdens so high, that it's as if they must serve more than double their actual student populations.  This comes because the formula takes into account student poverty, language fluency, median household income, local tax capacity and other factors.  For ten districts, the formula says it's as if they must serve more than four times actual enrollment.
For 151 districts, the formula determines their need by saying it's as if they serve fewer students than they actually enroll.  The new formula gives directions for how to divide state education dollars — no matter the size of the pot.  It does not gauge need based on how much funding would be adequate to ensure that all students can meet state expectations.  Advocates say that all districts need more funding in order to reach that end.
In the map above, districts on the red scale are determined by the formula to be most in need of the state's help.

OPED: Education funding formula doesn't go far enough
York Dispatch Opinion by MICHAEL CHURCHILL, Public Interest Law Center1 1:33 a.m. EDT June 11, 2016
While politicians and advocates are celebrating the legislature’s passage last week of a student-based, fair funding formula for distributing new school funds, it is important to understand this truth: our school funding system is as unconstitutional today as it was last week. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in York City schools.  Much about the formula is worthy of praise. Among other things, it will thankfully end the era in which funding went to districts based on close relationships to the leadership of the General Assembly. And in distributing new money to districts, it will use accurate information about the number of students and their needs, giving extra funds for students in poverty or learning English, and giving extra help to districts with lower capacity to raise money locally. This is a decided improvement.  But the formula is only a baby step towards what is needed.  It does not address the inadequate amount of funding available to districts struggling to meet state-set proficiency standards. It does not address — and in fact makes permanent — the vast inequities that exist from district to district. It never asks what schools need in order to meet state standards.

Pennsylvania adopts a new formula to fund schools
Daily Local By Lucas Rodgers, lrodgers@21st-centurymedia.com@LucasMRodgers on Twitter POSTED: 06/11/16, 6:50 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO
Last year Pennsylvania had the highest public school funding gap in the country between rich school districts and poor school districts, according to data from the United States Department of Education.  However, the recent passage of House Bill 1552 is part of an effort toward closing that funding gap.  Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding Commission, a bipartisan group of state senators and representatives, recommended in June 2015 that the General Assembly adopt a new “fair funding formula,” known as the Basic Education Funding (BEF) formula for distributing state funding to the 500 school districts in the commonwealth.  The General Assembly passed HB1552 with overwhelming bipartisan support: the Senate voted 49-1 in favor of the bill on May 18, and the House voted 188-3 to pass the bill on May 25. The bill amends the Public School Code of 1949 to establish “student-weighted basic education funding.” Gov. Tom Wolf signed HB1552 – now Act 35 – into law on June 2, making BEF the official formula for distributing state funds to school districts. The new formula is intended to provide sufficient, predictable and equitable funding for all school districts across the state.


Pa. school funding fiasco results in tax hikes, program cuts
Delco Times Opinion POSTED: 06/12/16, 5:12 AM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
With just over three weeks left to the start of a new fiscal year, the sorry state of school funding has spread like a virus across the commonwealth.  Local districts are working to finalize their 2016-17 budgets caught behind the mess of a nine-month impasse in the state budget, and it’s been tough going for most.  In fact, districts like Pottstown and Pottsgrove which have proposed zero-tax hikes are scarce. Instead, a statewide survey last week revealed that 85 percent of districts plan to increase property taxes this year, with 30 percent planning to raise taxes above the Act 1 index.  That percentage plays out in Chester County, where 11 of 12 districts are raising taxes. Only Downingtown is holding the line at 0 percent.  A statewide report released last week by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators describes the dismal picture.

McLane superintendent urges unity in tackling Erie schools crisis
Erie Times News by Erica Erwin June 13, 2016
ERIE, Pa. -- Whether the Erie School District will have to close its four high schools or be labeled a "financial recovery" school by the state as a result of its latest budget crisis remains to be seen. 
But it's clear that the fallout from that worst-case scenario would have ramifications not only for other local school districts but, more broadly, the region's economy, General McLane schools Superintendent Rick Scaletta said.  Superintendents throughout the region are starting to take notice.  "If the largest metropolitan area in the region has a school district in financial recovery, it's not going to be good for the region," Scaletta said. "I think you can see the natural progression of things if that were to occur, in terms of business investment, in terms of quality health care, in terms of opportunities for our young people.  "I think we all need to do what we can do to help Erie get the funding it needs to stay out of financial recovery status," he said.  The state Department of Education gives the "financial recovery" label to schools that are in financial distress. The department then appoints a chief recovery officer who, with an advisory committee, would create a recovery plan.

Public schools advocacy group issues statement of support for city school board
Post Gazette June 12, 2016 6:40 PM
A group of local advocacy organizations said Sunday that it supports the Pittsburgh Public School board in its decisions — as the board considers the future of its already beleaguered incoming superintendent.   Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, which seeks “fully equitable and inclusive education, restorative justice and the establishment of community schools” said Sunday in a prepared statement:  “The Board has difficult decisions ahead, but as long as they stay committed to addressing our issues, we will stay committed to the Board. Whatever they decide to do about Dr. [Anthony] Hamlet, we will stand behind them.  "If the Board decides it is best to start a new search, that search needs to respect the community input provided earlier this year, and the search criteria should remain the same. If they decide Dr. Hamlet is the superintendent who can accomplish the GPS vision in our schools, we will hold him and the Board accountable to the goals that the community, PPS parents, and students have laid out for him.”

School bus videos are public records, state says
Morning Call June 11, 2016
Five years ago, when a Bangor area man wanted copies of videos from his daughter's school bus so he could expose bullying, the state told him the recordings were off-limits to the public.
That might not be the case anymore.  The state Office of Open Records recently reversed its position on whether school bus videos are public records. It now says they are.  The reversal shows how the interpretation of the state's Right-to-Know Law is changing the more it is debated and researched. The law, which allows the public to request documents and records from state and local governments, took effect in 2009 to replace a previous law and still is relatively new and being analyzed.

In latest twist, Kenderton may return to District control
The notebook by Avi Wolfman-Arent June 10, 2016 — 12:43pm
The winding saga of Kenderton Elementary School in North Philadelphia has taken another turn, with indications that the Renaissance charter school will return to District control.  A School Reform Commission resolution published Wednesday moves to “establish Kenderton School as a District-operated neighborhood school” in time for the next school year. If passed at the SRC’s June 16 meeting, the resolution would remove Kenderton from charter control.  The resolution is merely in place so that the SRC can act on the matter if it chooses to do so on June 16, according to the Philadelphia School District.  "If the Kenderton board decides to surrender their charter, the School District of Philadelphia is ready to immediately move forward with a plan and a transition team to ensure Kenderton Elementary opens ready to succeed for the 2016-2017 school year,” according to a statement from District spokesman Fernando Gallard.


Apply Now! EPLC’s 2016-2017 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program

EPLC's 2016 Report:  High School Career and Technical Education: Serving Pennsylvania's Workforce and Student Needs
PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM Thursday, June 23, 2016 
Allegheny Intermediate Unit - 475 East Waterfront Dr., Homestead, PA 15120
Coffee and Networking - 9:30 a.m.  Program - 10:00 a.m. to Noon   
 RSVP by clicking here. There is no fee, but a RSVP is required. Please feel free to share this invitation with your staff and network. Similar forums will be held later in the Philadelphia area and Harrisburg. 
SPEAKERS:
An Overview of the EPLC Report on High School CTE will be presented by:
Ron Cowell, President, The Education Policy and Leadership Center
Statewide and Regional Perspectives Will Be Provided By
Dr. Lee Burket, Director, Bureau of Career & Technical Education, PA Department of Education
Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, PA Association of Career & Technical Administrators
Dr. William Kerr, Superintendent, Norwin School District
Laura Fisher, Senior Vice President - Workforce & Special Projects, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
James Denova, Vice President, Benedum Foundation

Nominations now open for PSBA Allwein Awards (deadline July 16)
PSBA Website POSTED ON MAY 16, 2016 IN PSBA NEWS
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.
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:


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