Tuesday, July 5, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 5: For 2013-14, 92% of PA students attended district run schools; but under HB530 charters would have more seats on Charter School Funding Advisory Commission

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 5, 2016:
For 2013-14, 92% of PA students attended district run schools; but under HB530 charters would have more seats on Charter School Funding Advisory Commission


PA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE BILL ANALYSIS:
“HB530 proposes major revisions regarding the Charter School Law; however, it does not provide any significant funding reforms or major savings to school districts or provide significant accountability to taxpayers for payments made to charter school entities.”

Blogger Commentary:
For 2013-14 92% of PA students attended district run schools but under HB530 charters would have more seats on Charter School Funding Advisory Commission

Under HB530 there are no limits to money that charters can drain from a local school district.

HB 530 would also divert an additional $25 million in tax $$$ to fund unaccountable private & religious schools under PA’s (supervoucher) EITC program.



Call your State Rep’s office this morning and ask them to oppose HB530

Call your State Senator’s office this morning and ask them to oppose HB530

More info on HB530 here:



Did you catch our weekend postings?
PA Ed Policy Weekend Roundup July 3, 2016:
PA lawmakers leave town without plan to pay for $31.5B budget; HB530 still pending

“Hidden in the commission language is more bad news. Among the issues on which it will make recommendations will be the establishment of a state-level charter oversight board that will make sure charters are behaving and will have the power to authorize charters. This is a favorite proposal in PA, because right now charters need the authorization of the local board, and no local board A) in its right mind or B) not controlled by charter school people wants to voluntarily attach a bloodsucking leech to its own neck. So charter fans and lobbyists would love to see some mechanism where charter operators don't have to get the permission of the elected representatives of the taxpayers whose pockets the charters would like to pick.”
PA House Bill 530: More Charter Christmas
Curmuducation Blog by Peter Greene Monday, July 4, 2016
PA House Bill 530 is yet another attempt to make life happier for charters in the Keystone State. As usual, it's a poop sandwich, a simple legislative trick where lawmakers include something in the bill that makes a good PR hook (This bill proposes to give the state the right to punch Mean People in the nose) with the hopes that the PR will cause folks to overlook other details of the bill (This bill would also award Mean People $1 million of taxpayer dollars).  Reading about proposed bills is a huge pain, in part because people on both sides of the discussion do their best to stampede voters, using write-ups that are tilted enough that sometimes you're not sure that you're reading two pieces about the same bill. The solution is always to go read the text of the bill but-- oh, lordy, HB 530 is freakin' 218 pages long.  Here's the thing-- when you start reading the bill, you find things that are even worse than what you've been reading about it. So I'm going to sort through this, but I am not going to try to create a sparkly smooth bunch of transitions.

“For instance, the proposed legislation would set up a charter school funding advisory commission. This august body would have many duties including the ability to authorize charter schools in your local school district.  No longer would prospective charter operators have to come before your duly-elected board members and plead and beg to set up shop and suck away hard to come by education funding. They could just appear before the commission and sidestep your local democracy completely.”
Pennsylvania Legislators Want You to Foot the Bill for Unimpeded Charter School Growth With Little Accountability
Gadfly On the Wall Blog by Steven Singer July 5, 2016 stevenmsinger 
Fund my charter school.  Come on, Pennsylvania.  Let me just swipe tax dollars you set aside to educate your children and put them into my personal bank account as profit.  Please!  I’ll be your best friend. Or at least I’ll be your legislator’s best friend.  Chances are, I already am.  That’s why lawmakers in Harrisburg are once again looking to pass a school code bill (House Bill 530) that would let charter schools expand exponentially almost completely unchecked and without having to do any of that nasty, sticky accountability stuff you demand of your traditional public schools.  Sure there are a few provisions in there to make charters fill out more paperwork, but the benefits for privatization and profitization of your child’s education are huge!

Pa. budget on time, but far from complete | Editorial
By Express-Times Letters to the Editor  on July 03, 2016 at 6:00 AM, updated July 03, 2016 at 9:29 AM
The state of Pennsylvania has an on-time budget. Half of one, anyway.
As the fiscal-year clock was winding down Thursday, the House of Representatives adopted a 2016-17 spending plan that the Senate had blessed a day earlier. Gov. Tom Wolf had pledged to sign a bipartisan package, thus avoiding the battle of priorities and wills that delayed the previous budget by nine months.  While the former combatants made nice, they left hanging the big question —how to pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan, which carries an estimated $1.5 billion deficit.  If you've been following this election-year drama, you know the Republican-controlled Legislature red-lined Wolf's idea to raise sales and/or incomes tax — so he dropped that demand. And with legislators facing election contests in November, there was no way they would be campaigning in the midst of another bitter budget impasse.  Under that deadline, legislators ordered up $31.5 billion in products and services, thinking they'd deal with the revenue side during the Independence Day weekend. Or afterward.

Pennsylvania lawmakers leave town without plan to pay for $31.5B budget
Trib Live BY BRAD BUMSTED  | Friday, July 1, 2016, 5:27 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Negotiations on how to pay for a $31.5 billion budget stalled Friday with lawmakers leaving town for the long holiday weekend.  They could be called back if there's an agreement among Republican and Democrat legislators and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, officials said.  The General Assembly approved a spending plan for 2016-17 on Thursday night, but critics said there was no plan to pay for it. The budget, among other things, boosts basic education spending by $200 million.

Some work, few developments on Pa. budget over holiday weekend
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com  Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 02, 2016 at 7:35 PM, updated July 02, 2016 at 9:20 PM
It looks like Pennsylvania lawmakers will be home for the 4th of July... but without that completed budget they'd hoped for after a surprisingly sturdy season of bipartisanship this spring.  While a $31.5 billion spending plan is ready for Gov. Tom Wolf's signature, there is no agreement on a tax and revenue package needed to pay for it.  So it's another round of state budget limbo for Pennsylvania.  Few expect this logjam to be anything like the impasse that stretched into a nine-months last year, but for the moment schisms on taxes and the scope of a proposed gambling expansion bill are keeping the sides from completion.

Marcellus shale tax falls by wayside
Beaver County Times Editorial By Calkins Media Jun 30, 2016
When Tom Wolf was running for governor two years ago, he ran a campaign largely based on his promise to institute a severance tax on Marcellus shale and use that money to improve the state’s public school system.  Voters bought into that plan, electing Wolf by a 20-percent margin over Republican incumbent Tom Corbett.  Last November, with state government in the middle of its longest budget deadlock ever, a Franklin & Marshall College poll revealed that 67 percent of those polled supported a tax on Marcellus shale.  But the budget last year was passed without a Marcellus shale tax, and it appears very likely that this year’s spending plan will be approved without the measure.  After proposing an increase in the sales and income taxes along with a Marcellus shale tax in his budget address last February, Wolf has now backed off those plans, saying such broad-based tax increases won’t be necessary to fund this year’s budget.
So, what’s happened to plans for a Marcellus shale tax, which has had so much support from the public? Well, the main reason is staunch opposition from Republican lawmakers who control both the state House and Senate. In fact, that was one of the reasons for the budget deadlock last year, which turned into the longest such stalemate in the state’s history.
At one point, Wolf even cut his proposed severance tax in half, but it was still rejected by GOP lawmakers. Wolf now is apparently bowing to political reality by taking the tax off the table in this year’s budget talks. Whether directly related or not, he’s also cut back on a request for additional education funding from $350 million to $250 million.

Do the math: Pennsylvania has 500 school districts, and that equals too many
Lancaster Online Editorial by The LNP Editorial Board Jul 3, 2016
THE ISSUE: Pennsylvania has 500 school districts. That’s actually down from the 1950s, before the commonwealth consolidated its 2,700 school districts. According to a 2009 study from The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy,  10 states have more school districts than Pennsylvania; those states include New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
Geographically speaking, the sharing of a superintendent between Columbia and Eastern Lancaster County school districts doesn’t appear to be an obvious choice.  Tiny Columbia nestles right up against Hempfield School District. You have to hopscotch Hempfield, plus two other districts — Manheim Township and Conestoga Valley — to get from Columbia to Elanco.  Nevertheless, Columbia and Elanco have agreed to share a superintendent, Elanco’s Bob Hollister, next year.  Hollister will perform duties for which a superintendent’s certificate is required; a director of operations will be hired to oversee Columbia School District’s daily functions.  Kudos to both of these districts for hammering out an inspired solution to Columbia’s leadership woes. That financially beleaguered district has had trouble retaining top administrators in recent years.  So we appreciate that Hollister is willing to take on the challenges of Columbia, which desperately needs a steady leader.

“Mooney said the Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) had another sizable state-mandated raise this year for a net expenditure increase of $709,000. The total employers PSERS contribution is just less than $9 million, with a 50 percent state reimbursement.”
Springfield schools approve budget with a tax increase
Delco Times By Susan L. Serbin Times Correspondent POSTED: 07/04/16, 9:45 PM EDT
SPRINGFIELD >> The Springfield School District’s final 2016-17 General Fund Budget of $79.8 million was approved by the school board at its last meeting before the summer break. The budget will be supported by a 2.36 percent increase in taxes, keeping it under the 2.4 percent index set by the state.  Executive Director Don Mooney said the increase in the proposed preliminary budget, which came before the board in January, was 2.95 percent. The budget was developed without using any exceptions allowable by the state, referring to pension and special education costs.  The board approved the millage rate of 31.4212. This results in $53.2 million in net tax revenue. School taxes on a property with a $100,000 assessment are $3,142, a $72 increase. For the median value of $146,505, taxes are $4,603, a $106 increase. For an assessed property of $250,000, taxes are $7,855, a $181 hike. The Homestead exclusion for eligible properties is $181.


Schools Can't Accurately Measure Poor Students
The metric used to count the number of poor students enrolled in a school is broken.
US News By Lauren Camera | Education Reporter June 30, 2016, at 5:56 p.m.
It's becoming more difficult for schools to accurately gauge the number of poor students they enroll – an important metric that's used for everything from doling out federal aid to tracking academic performance and measuring achievement gaps.  For decades, schools have defined low-income students as those who enroll in the National School Lunch Program, which provides free- and reduced-priced lunch to eligible kids – those whose families below 185 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $45,000 for a family of four.  But that method "is quickly unravelling" and if left unchanged could have dire consequences for education policymakers and researchers warns a new reportpublished Thursday by the Brookings Institution and written by Matthew Chingos, senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

NASA's Juno Spacecraft in Orbit Around Mighty Jupiter
NASA July 5, 2016 RELEASE 16-071
After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 p.m. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4.
“Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer -- Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”
Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Littleton, Colorado. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA's Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.


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)
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.

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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