Monday, July 11, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 11: Wolf to let PA #budget bill become law despite funding questions

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 11, 2016:
Wolf to let PA #budget bill become law despite funding questions

 Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 10, 2016: 25 Reasons to Vote NO on PA #HB530 Charter School Reform

Bipartisan, Compromise Budget to Become Law
Governor Wolf’s Blog July 10, 2016
Harrisburg, PA –Governor Wolf today announced that the bipartisan, compromise budget will become law.  “If a revenue package were already on my desk, I would have been proud to sign it,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “If a revenue package is passed before midnight on Monday, I will be equally as proud to sign it then. But if the General Assembly fails to pass a responsible revenue package by tomorrow evening, this bill will become law without my signature.  “This budget makes historic investments in education that will bring us closer to restoring the cuts of the past and invests vital money to fight the opioid crisis that has struck Pennsylvania. As has been said by Republicans and Democrats alike, this is a budget Pennsylvania can be proud of, and it puts us back on a path to fiscal responsibility and a sustainable future.”

Statement from Senators Scarnati and Corman
PA Senate Republican Website July 10, 2016
Unfortunately, a final revenue agreement has not yet been reached. Various proposals have been put on the table. Negotiations persist and we remain committed to continuing to work toward reaching a final compromise that will fully fund the approved spending plan while at the same time does not include broad-based increases in income or sales taxes.

Gov. Tom Wolf acts to protect bipartisan budget, but raises new questions in the process
Penn Live By Charles Thompson |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter  on July 11, 2016 at 6:45 AM, updated July 11, 2016 at 6:46 AM
Gov. Tom Wolf offered a form of budget peace Sunday night, but he also raised questions in the process about whether the path he's declared for himself meets black-letter legal tests.  Whether those questions become future issues or a quickly forgotten footnote to a 2016-17 budget process that is achingly close to closure, we'll just have to wait and see.  Wolf said Sunday he intends to let the $31.5 billion general fund budget bill on his desk become law without a signature at midnight Monday, even though by all accounts there aren't enough revenues from the state's existing tax structure to pay for it.

The Latest: Lawmakers aren't protesting Wolf's budget move
Citizens Voice Jul. 10, 2016 8:16 PM ET
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on efforts in the Pennsylvania Capitol to pass a budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year (all times local):

8:10 p.m.: Lawmakers aren't protesting Gov. Tom Wolf's decision not to stop a $31 billion spending bill from becoming law, even though Pennsylvania lawmakers haven't figured out how to pay for it.  Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa says letting the spending bill become law keeps dollars flowing to schools and other important programs. Top Senate Republicans say they're committed to working toward an agreement to fully fund the spending bill.  Meanwhile, another nearly $600 million in aid to Penn State, Temple, Pitt, Lincoln and Penn remains in limbo in the House.  Discussion of a $1.3 billion revenue package centers on a $1 per-pack cigarette tax increase and an expansion of casino-style gambling.  The House and Senate return to session Monday. The bill becomes law without Wolf's signature midnight Monday.

Wolf to let Pennsylvania budget bill become law despite funding questions
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 07/11/16, 5:40 AM EDT
HARRISBURG >> Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he would not stop a roughly $31 billion election-year spending bill from becoming law, even though the gridlocked Pennsylvania Legislature remained unable to explain Sunday how it would pay for it.  Wolf made the revelation during a Sunday evening Capitol news conference, just 30 hours before his midnight Monday deadline to act on the spending bill that lawmakers passed June 30.  Wolf said he would let the spending bill become law without his signature if the Republican-controlled Legislature does not produce an acceptable revenue package to fund it.  Wolf’s move prompted head scratching in the Capitol as to whether the move was constitutional or what effect, if any, it could ultimately have on programs should lawmakers fail to approve a tax increase to fund a budget most of them voted for.  Top lawmakers, however, did not object to Wolf’s move.

No money plan? No worry. Wolf to let $31.5B spending plan become law
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JULY 11, 2016 1:06 AM EDT
HARRISBURG - In an unexpected move that immediately raised a host of legal questions, Gov. Wolf said Sunday that he will allow the $31.5 billion spending plan the legislature has sent him to become law - even though there is no plan to pay for it.  The governor has until 11:59 p.m. Monday to decide whether to sign or veto - in whole or in part - the spending plan that the Republican-controlled legislature approved just hours before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.  Wolf initially said that he could not back a budget without a corresponding deal on revenue to support it. But he told reporters Sunday that he will allow the negotiated spending plan to lapse into law without his signature - even if there is no agreement on how to pay for it - because he believes the legislature will swiftly deliver a revenue plan.  His decision had everyone from legislators to lobbyists scurrying to find their copy of the state constitution.  State law requires that the budget be balanced. Without a revenue plan, the $31.5 billion blueprint that the legislature sent Wolf will not be in balance, as it needs new revenue to prop it up.  Asked about that requirement, Wolf said he was confident the legislature will deliver a compromise by Monday.

Hoping to tease progress on tax package, Gov. Wolf will let $31.5B spending plan become law
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 10, 2016 at 6:48 PM, updated July 10, 2016 at 11:04 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf took what he sees as a peace-making step Sunday in hopes, he said, of teasing swift completion of the last and hardest piece of the state's budget puzzle - the tax package.  Wolf said at a Capitol news conference that he will let the $31.5 billion spending bill for fiscal 2016-17 to become law without his signature, even if the General Assembly fails to deliver an adequate tax and revenue package to balance it by midnight Monday.  That's the constitutional, 10-day deadline for Wolf to sign or veto the budget bill.  Wolf said he was announcing his decision now to avoid "unnecessary distractions," and that he is trying to encourage continuation of the bipartisan spirit that's permitted passage of medical marijuana, liquor sales reforms and even the budget bill itself so far this spring and summer.

Pennsylvania will have a budget by Tuesday
York Daily Record by  Rick Lee, rlee@ydr.com10:48 p.m. EDT July 10, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf said Sunday evening in a live announcement that Pennsylvania will have a 2016-2017 fiscal budget with or without his signature by Tuesday.  Wolf said he will allow the bi-partisan $31.5 billion appropriations bill to become Pennsylvania's budget without his signature if a sustainable revenue package cannot be reached by the end of Monday.  "If a revenue package were already on my desk, I would have been proud to sign it,” Wolf said. “If a revenue package is passed before midnight on Monday, I will be equally as proud to sign it then.  "But if the General Assembly fails to pass a responsible revenue package by tomorrow evening, this bill will become law without my signature."  If Wolf opts not to sign the budget, it would be the second time in his two years as governor that he allowed the state budget to go into effect without his signature.

School budgets: Struggling in the red
Public Opinion Online Vicky Taylor, vtaylor@publicopinionnews.comJuly 10, 2016
FRANKLIN COUNTY - On the heels of a prolonged state budget impasse in fiscal year 2015-16, local school districts are still grappling with the fallout of a tough year financially that hasn't got much better as they go into a new fiscal year this summer.  The nine-month long budget impasse was just the last in a series of blows to the financial health of the county's six school districts, which had been struggling with six years of state-mandated program expenses that have outpaced state funding, and a whopping cut in that funding under former Gov. Tom Corbett.  The cuts to the education part of the budget were cited by Corbett at the time as the only way to balance the state budget without raising taxes.  The result was local school property tax increases that have ranged from 20 to almost 30 percent over the past six years.

State education budget, rising school costs put squeeze on local taxpayers
Observer Reporter By Gideon Bradshaw July 9, 2016
July 1 marked the anniversary of the bloodiest day in British military history, when the Allies embarked on a quixotic and wasteful attempt to bring World War I to a speedy close.
Across the Atlantic and exactly one century later, the beginning of this fiscal year found Charleroi Area School District business manager Crystal Zahand in her own war of attrition.  The district recently tried to keep down operating costs by not replacing retiring employees, but can only hold the line so long.  “As we go along, it will become more difficult to use attrition without affecting class size,” she said.  Charleroi Area and most other school districts in Washington and Greene counties raised property taxes for the fiscal year that began July 1 as they struggle to stabilize budgets straitened by increases in fixed costs, which school officials and their advocates said outmatch allotments from the state this year and disproportionately affect schools in disadvantaged areas.  Gov. Tom Wolf has until midnight Monday to sign or veto the 2016-17 budget or it lapses into law.

School leaders lose confidence in getting help from lawmakers as funding squeezed
Trib Live BY ELIZABETH BEHRMAN  | Sunday, July 10, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
The Woodland Hills School District last year closed buildings and furloughed 14 staff members in order to save money.  This year, the district cut an additional five staff positions, increased property taxes and refinanced its debt in order to balance its $81 million budget.  “The cycle is never going to end under the current framework,” Superintendent Alan Johnson said. “The system needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt. Right now, I'm not feeling that that's going to happen any time soon.”  Johnson is among 97 percent of district leaders who feel the same way, according to a survey from state school administrator groups.  Legislators in Harrisburg are once again late passing — and funding — a state budget, which was due July 1. And even if lawmakers increase general education funding, administrators don't expect the state to provide them with relief as they struggle to pay rising health care, pension and charter school costs.  “I think we're losing confidence in state policymakers to adequately address the challenges going forward,” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. “This environment is going to continue to exist for years to come.”

'High-quality' pre-K: The phrase everyone loves, but few know how to gauge
Nearly everyone agrees that high-quality pre-K can make a big difference for kids. But how should states measure quality?  That question is at the heart of a new research brief from Research for Action, the Philadelphia-based education research group. The answer will be critical to cities like Philadelphia as they try to expand pre-K coverage that actually delivers lasting benefits.  The problem is there’s no straightforward answer.  The RFA brief looks specifically at Quality Ratings and Improvement Systems. It’s a clunky term, but it refers to the rubrics that states use to rate early childhood programs. Pennsylvania’s is called Keystone STARS (for "standards, training, assistance, resources and support"), and it’s one of the oldest in the country.  There has been scads of QRIS research. Most of it, however, looks at whether a given QRIS has been implemented faithfully. The research is comparatively thin on whether ratings systems actually do a good job measuring quality.  In other words, a QRIS might rate one center a two and another center a four, but it’s not clear there’s a big difference between level-two centers and level-four ones in terms of student achievement.

Peter Greene: Something Surprisingly Good Happened to the Democratic Platform Language on Charters
Diane Ravitch’s Blog By dianeravitch July 10, 2016 //
Peter Greene watched the discussion of education by the Democratic platform committee, and he was surprised by a good turn in the language used for charter schools.  The original platform language had squishy rhetoric about charter schools. Thanks to the behind-the-scenes work of Troy LaRivere (the elementary school principal who was pushed out of his school by the Chicago Public School leadership, most likely for his outspokenness against high-stakes testing and charter schools as well as his endorsement of Bernie Sanders in the primary); Chuck Pascal, a Sanders delegate from Pennsylvania (this blog helped to raise money to pay his way to Orlando for the platform meetings); and Christine Kramar, a Nevada delegate who is devoted to public education. These activists had the support of Randi Weingarten, and some of their platform changes were accepted.  Peter Greene writes about the most important of them: the charter language. The original platform spoke out against for-profit charters, but Peter has shown in other posts that the difference between for-profit charters and non-profit charters is often a distinction without a difference.

Another 10 states sue Obama administration over bathroom guidance for transgender students
Washington Post By Moriah Balingit July 8 
Ten additional states are suing the Obama administration to stop a directive that requires schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity under the threat of losing federal funding, bringing the total number of states challenging the guidance to 21.  Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nebraska, on Friday afternoon. The state is joined by nine others: Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.  The Obama administration, via the departments of Education and Justice, issued guidance to schools in May directing them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, a move that plunged the administration further into the debate over how schools and the public should accommodate transgender people.

Appointment of Voting Delegates for the October 15th PSBA Delegate Assembly Meeting
PSBA Website June 27, 2016
The governing body boards of all member school entities are entitled to appoint voting delegates to participate in the PSBA Delegate Assembly to be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. It is important that school boards act soon to appoint its delegate or delegates, and to notify PSBA of the appointment.
Voting members of the Delegate Assembly will:
1.     Consider and act upon proposed changes to the PSBA Bylaws.
2.     Receive reports from the PSBA president, executive director and treasurer.
3.     Receive the results of the election for officers and at-large representatives. (Voting upon candidates by school boards and electronic submission of each board’s votes will occur during the month of September 2016.)
4.     Consider proposals recommended by the PSBA Platform Committee and adopt the legislative platform for the coming year.
5.     Conduct other Association business as required or permitted in the Bylaws, policies or a duly adopted order of business.
The 2016 Delegate Assembly will meet on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the conclusion of the regularly scheduled events of the main PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference.

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.

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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