Sunday, June 19, 2016

PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup June 196: Budget Status: "We're negotiating with them"

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup June 19, 2016:
Budget Status: "We're negotiating with them"

“Turzai's former chief of staff, Krystjan Callahan, is pushing for the video game terminals in his new role as a lobbyist at Maverick Strategies here.  “I'm open to supporting gaming revenue as an alternative to raising taxes provided it's done in a responsible manner,” Turzai said. His vote depends on what's in the final bill, he said.”
In reversal, state House Speaker Turzai open to expansion of gambling
BY BRAD BUMSTED AND MIKE WERESCHAGIN | Saturday, June 18, 2016, 9:27 p.m.
HARRISBURG — A Republican-aligned lobbying and campaign firm with deep ties to House GOP leadership is lobbying for the largest expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania since the General Assembly legalized slots in 2004.  House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, an opponent of the 2004 law and who also voted against legalizing table games in 2009, said he might support an online wagering bill that could include legalizing video game terminals in bars, restaurants and fire halls.  The legislation would allow an estimated 21,000 gambling machines in public venues, said Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon.  House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said late Friday that there was support among Republican members to include video terminals with an iGaming bill. It could be voted on this week, Mustio said.

Democrats take leap of faith into budget talks with GOP
AP State Wire by MARC LEVY and MARK SCOLFORO June 18, 2016
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - It's the big head-scratcher in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

House Democrats this month helped pass bills that advanced a couple long-sought Republican priorities - scaling back traditional public pension benefits and breaking state-control over wine sales - apparently without any assurance that the Legislature's huge GOP majorities will return the favor to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.  With less than two weeks until the fiscal year ends, the question now is what Wolf will get from tax-averse Republicans to advance his efforts to wipe out a damaging deficit and close huge funding inequities between wealthy and poor school districts.  "We're negotiating with them," said House Minority Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton. "That's probably the biggest thing in the world. I mean, at this point last year, (House Republicans) had told us we weren't in the room, that they were going to pass their budget with no Democratic input."

Budget hangs on betting, smoking
Times Tribune BY ROBERT SWIFT / PUBLISHED: JUNE 19, 2016
HARRISBURG — House lawmakers have taken the lead in recent weeks in putting up bipartisan votes to address the big issues that proved so difficult to resolve when a grand state budget deal crashed last December.  The House voted 136-59 last week to approve a bill to reduce pension benefits for future state government and school district employees through a hybrid plan fashioned by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, Pottsville.  Two weeks ago, the House approved a bill to expand wine sales greatly in the private sector that was quickly signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.  This week, the House will try again to pass legislation to expand legalized gambling in order to generate new state revenue, said House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-62, Indiana.  “The (gambling) revenue is essential to balancing a budget and getting out of here by June 30,” Mr. Reed said.  Pennsylvania has a built-in revenue deficit in the range of $1.5 billion to deal with and Mr. Wolf wants to boost education spending by more than $200 million.

Another Pa. state budget debate? Why that may not be cause for weeping yet
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 17, 2016 at 10:27 PM, updated June 18, 2016 at 2:16 AM
It's state budget time in Harrisburg. Remember that?  Don't despair.  The talks are actually going lots better this year, so we're told from a group of nervous sources who – party because they aren't authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing negotiations, and partly because they're surprised that they're going as well as they are after last year's impasse – offered observations on the QT.  Here's some early observations, 11 days before the dawn of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

SEN. MIKE FOLMER: Pa. residents already pay enough in taxes
The Mercury Opinion by Senator Mike Folmer POSTED: 06/19/16, 2:00 AM EDT |
State Sen. Mike Folmer is a Republican who represents the 48th Senatorial District in parts of Lebanon, Dauphin and York counties.
Consider the many federal, state, county and municipal taxes and fees we pay, which include taxes on amusements, capital gains, cigarettes, corporations, earned income, services, estates, gas, liquor, sales, per capita, personal income, personal property, property realty transfers, Social Security, telephone calls, utilities and unemployment.  License fees include building permits, dog licenses, fishing licenses, government late fees and penalties, hunting licenses, marriage licenses, parking meter fees, professional license fees, speeding tickets, traffic fines, vehicle and boat registration fees.  Additional costs arise from a myriad of government regulations, such as: zoning, state and local building codes, restrictions on the amount of water in commodes and environmental requirements on gas and cars.  Consider the impacts of spending $1 each second — it would take 12 days to spend $1 million at $1 per second, 32 years to spend $1 billion, and 32,000 years to spend $1 trillion.  Under the current state budget, the Commonwealth spends $30,031,000,000, or $82,051,912 a day, $3,418,829 an hour, $56,980 a minute, and $949 each second. So, Pennsylvania taxpayers have been very generous in supporting the Commonwealth.

“The dearth of subs parallels a dramatic decrease in newly minted certified teachers in Pennsylvania, from 16,361 in 2012-13 to just 6,215 in 2014-15. State and school officials blame fear of layoffs, threats to retirement benefits, the increased stress of the standardized-testing regime, and poor discipline. In the past, more certified teachers has meant a larger pool of substitutes.”
Substitute teachers are the new endangered species
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer Updated: JUNE 19, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Those perfect spring Fridays - cerulean skies, temperatures in the 70s - are exactly the kind of days that Dan Nerelli has come to dread.  That's because Nerelli, assistant superintendent for personnel in the Upper Darby School District, knows he'll be scrambling to put substitutes in dozens of teacher-less classrooms. The Delaware County district's ability to cover faculty absences has plunged from 95 percent just a few years ago to roughly 60 percent.  Philadelphia-area school administrators such as Nerelli now struggle to find ways to cope with a shortage of substitutes unlike anything they have ever faced. They congregate multiple classes in the gym and put one teacher in charge. They pay regular faculty to give up prep time. They take over classrooms themselves.  Earlier this month, the Delaware County Intermediate Unit announced a new two-day program to train "guest teachers" for the sub-starved districts it serves. It is open to anyone with a bachelor's degree, in any subject.

“The formula would equitably distribute funds to school districts across the state, Rivera said, pointing to districts like the Oswayo Valley School District (Shinglehouse) with 434 students, or the 2,500 students in the Bradford Area School District.  “The formula is very beneficial for the four-county region in that the formula is driven by enrollment,” said Dr. Pamela Lenz, a circuit rider for the Pennsylvania Campaign for Fair Education Funding, which serves the four-county region and beyond. “The formula factors recognize the burdens faced by districts in the four-county area in that, after calculations are performed, it's as if the districts serve more than their actual student populations. This will allow districts to receive a greater percentage of available funding.”  She said the formula is factor-specific, and that means dollars are not distributed in the same manner to urban, suburban and rural districts. For instance, Lenz said one of the formula factors is sparsity/size ratio.”
Rivera provides insight into local school funding
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter |0 comments Posted: Friday, June 17, 2016 10:00 am
This upcoming academic year, area school districts should have little to worry about with education funding.  Those were the thoughts of state Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, who shared insight with The Era on Thursday afternoon regarding a proposed 2016-17 state budget that includes a $200 million increase in basic education funding.  The state Department of Education reached out to The Era since the department doesn’t often get to this part of the state. Over the past year, Rivera has visited several school districts throughout the state as part of the Schools That Teach tour.

Fair Funding Formula bill to bring $5 million to York County schools
Abc27 By Samantha Galvez Published: June 16, 2016, 6:33 pm
YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Up until this month, Pennsylvania was one of three states without a funding formula to fairly distribute money to school districts. Some say it cost schools across York County millions in lost revenue, but under the new Fair Funding Formula bill Governor Wolf signed, schools will get an additional $5 million in their pockets.  The problem with education funding began back in the late 1990’s.  “The legislature put into the school funding formula a hold harmless provision,” Representative Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) said.  The provision states that a school district will never receive less money in a year than they had in the previous year. So, for districts that have grown; they’ve received less money per student from the state in basic education funding, while school districts that have declined in population have received more.

Pa. Senate leaders say House-backed pension bill comes up short
Keystone Crossroads/WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY JUNE 16, 2016
A bill that would offer new teachers and most state employees less generous retirement benefits passed the state House of Representatives with bipartisan support this week.  Governor Tom Wolf says he would sign the measure.  Leaders in the Senate, though, do not plan to move forward.  Currently, teachers and state workers receive guaranteed pension benefits no matter how well funds perform in the stock market.  The bill as passed by the House would give new workers a guaranteed state pension based on the first $50,000 of salary, with a yearly 3 percent index for inflation.  On salary beyond that – and all salary after 25 years – workers would get a 401k-style retirement benefit where the ultimate payout is based on market performance.   The changes would occur in 2018.  The House estimates its plan will save $5 billion over 32 years - about 2 percent of the total tab.  Teachers unions have been vocal in their dislike of the bill. They say undercutting retirees' long term fiscal security will make the profession less attractive.  Senate majority leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, also opposes it, but for different reasons. He says it doesn't go far enough to protect taxpayers.

Smart Talk: PA school administrators pessimistic
Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 17, 2016 9:00 AM
What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, June 17, 2016: audio runtime: 14:00
Summer vacation is not a time off for school administrators. A recent survey conducted by Pennsylvania superintendents and school business officials on the rising costs and budget cuts found that the coming 2016-17 school year offers "the worst outlook" so far. The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) report found that during the 2015-16 year, 14% of districts were forced to borrow over $746 million and 74% dipped into fund balances to make it.  The report also found that 46% of districts are planning on cutting staff before the coming school year. 34% plan to increase class sizes, and 50% plan to remove academic programs and extracurriculars. At the same time, 85% of districts plan on raising property taxes, the seventh consecutive year in which over 60% of districts are raising taxes.  The report surveyed 71% of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts, at least one from every county, and ranging from the largest district in Philadelphia to districts with fewer than 750 students. The coming year will clearly affect districts across the state.  Jeff Ammerman,  Director of Member Assistance at The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), and Jim Buckheit, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), join us Friday to discuss the findings of their organizations' survey, the causes behind these problems, the impacts we'll see, possible solutions, and changes we can expect to our taxes and schools.

“North Carolina's legislation closely resembles a Tennessee Achievement School District, which was established in 2012.  The experiment has so far fallen short of its transformative promise, said Joshua Glazer, the lead investigator in a four-year study of Tennessee's program. Student testing scores at the charter-operated schools have shown little to no comparative growth, said Glazer, an associated professor of education policy at George Washington University.”
Achievement School District: Experts warn of murky results from charter-driven schools
Inquirer by ANNA GRONEWOLD, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 17, 2016 10:25 AM EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina could hand over some of its lowest performing elementary schools to charter school operators in an effort to reverse dismal test scores in more than half the state's counties.  Similar aggressive reforms have taken hold in New Orleans and Tennessee, and states such as Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia are considering prescribing charter management for their failing schools. But results have been mixed so far, with opponents saying researchers and educators have found little proof that the charter companies are the remedy.  North Carolina's proposal, which passed in the House earlier this month, would create a separate district for elementary schools that have fallen to the bottom 5 percent of the state's grading system for at least three consecutive years.

“Nationwide in 2015, the median annual wage for preschool teachers was $28,570 - about 55 percent of what elementary teachers were paid, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. For a child-care teacher, it was even lower, around $20,320.  Such low compensation leaves many early-childhood educators around the poverty line, which is $20,160 for a family of three.”
Study: Preschool teachers make near-poverty wages in Pa.
Inquirer by Grace Toohey, Staff Writer Updated: JUNE 18, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
Ryan Morehart thought he had found a field that was both valuable and enjoyable: child care. But as he advanced, he realized there wasn't much advancing to do.  He considered going back to school, but that didn't promise enough financial benefit.  "I love working with kids," said Morehart, 29, of Philadelphia. But after nine years in early childhood education, he switched to office management.  "My benefits are a lot better, the pay is a lot better, I have money left over to the point where we could do stuff," he said.  While Philadelphia could sweeten this narrative with the recently passed soda tax, aimed at funding pre-K, a new federal report shows that Pennsylvania's low pay for early-childhood teachers undermines its ability to deliver high-quality education at a critical developmental stage.

High quality childcare and preschool need to be budget priorities: PennLive letters
Penn Live Letters to the Editor  by Joan Benso on June 17, 2016 at 12:00 PM, updated June 17, 2016 at 4:03 PM
The author is president and CEO, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a founding partner of Pre-K for PA and Early Learning PA.
In a recent discussion with PennLive's Editorial Board about the need for stronger state investments in high-quality pre-k programs, I was asked why Pennsylvania needs to fund both child care subsidy and high-quality pre-k.  In my response, I stressed that both need to be better funded to meet the needs of our children.  Unfortunately, a recent PennLive editorial (Legislature, Wolf should act responsibly on funding for pre-k programs, June 15) might have left some readers feeling as though I was downplaying the importance and quality of Pennsylvania's child care programs in favor of pre-k. Nothing could be further from the case

Philly's soda tax: How it's playing nationwide
Inquirer by Emily Babay, Staff writer  @emilybabay Updated: JUNE 17, 2016 — 10:52 AM EDT
Philadelphia on Thursday became the first major city in the United States to enact a soda tax, with City Council approving a 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on sugary and artificially sweetened beverages.  The tax has generated much discussion and debate here in Philadelphia, and its passing brought a flurry of attention from national media outlets. Here's a round-up of coverage – much of it focusing on Philadelphia's status as the first big city to pass such a levy – of the soda tax from outsiders' perspectives:

Statement by Donna Cooper, Executive Director of PCCY, On Philadelphia City Council Passing the Soda Tax
PCCY Press Release June 16, 2016
This victory is a watershed moment for health advocates across the country. It's a boost for other cities hoping to follow Philadelphia's lead. But the biggest winners today are the generations of children whose destinies will be changed because they'll be attending quality pre-k, grow up playing in revamped public spaces or live in a neighborhood with a community school. Philadelphians have a lot to be proud of today, especially their new Mayor and City Council

Charter advocacy groups' report urges overhaul of cyber funding and regulation
The groups say that poor-performing cybers should be closed.
The notebook by melanie bavaria June 17, 2016 — 4:04pm
A group of national charter school advocacy groups released a controversial report this week recommending that poor-performing virtual, or cyber, charter schools be closed. It also proposed that states overhaul the funding and oversight systems to regulate them.  “We believe that existing policies for oversight of full-time virtual charter schools are particularly inadequate,” reads the report, titled A Call to Action: To Improve the Quality of Full-Time Virtual Charter Public Schools.”  The organizations that created the report — the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and 50CAN — make clear that they do support the existence of virtual charter schools. At the same time, they stressed that the systems in place across the 23 states (and D.C.) that allow for virtual charter schools are deeply flawed and largely failing.

K12 Inc. Responds to Report on Virtual Charter Schools
PR Newswire Jun 16, 2016, 17:09 ET from K12 Inc.
HERNDON,  Va., June 16, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a leading provider to online schools, K12 Inc. has collaborated with educators, policymakers, and organizations on best practices and policies for online and blended public schools.  We strongly advocate for all charter school models. We have supported student-centered policy proposals for all schools, competency-based learning, and better metrics to improve accountability.  The report by NACSA, NAPCS, and 50CAN is not collaborative.  Very few, if any, charter school boards, educators, operators, parents or teachers in online charter schools were part of this report.   The report relies almost exclusively on a three-part study on online charter schools published last year.  K12 responded to the study and provided a detailed analysis. We disagreed with the study's reliance on old academic data and the methodology which did not control or account for several key factors unique to typical full-time online schools, including: persistence and performance over time, date of enrollment, the effect of mobility, and the reasons why children leave their local school. 

Morningstar Executive Compensation for K12, Inc. (LRN) 2011-2015

Daniel Boone School Board OKs $55.6M budget with tax hike
Pottstown Mercury By Denise Larive, For Digital First Media POSTED: 06/15/16, 10:59 PM EDT | UPDATED: 9 HRS AGO
AMITY >> The Daniel Boone Area School Board voted 5-3 Monday to approve the district’s 2016-17 budget that includes a 2.5 percent tax increase.  Business Manager Loren Small said Wednesday that the board intended to approve a budget of $55,591,450, but instead approved the revenue amount of $53,092,107, which was stated on the special voting meeting agenda.  Small said the budget approval included the transfer of $1.6 million from the general fund, as well as the application of $785,000 of new tax revenue.  Effective July 1, the tax rate will increase from 28.96 to 29.70 mills. It would be $2,970 per every $100,000 of assessed property value -- a $74 increase, for a home assessed at $100,000.  Property owners currently pay $2,869 for every $100,000 of value.  Taxes have not increased since June 2010, when the board approved a .54 mill increase.

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
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. 
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)
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 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:

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT


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