Wednesday, November 23, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 23: Rhee opts out; 18 votes apart in 156th; Publicly funded school run by privately selected board ignores taxpayer impact

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Nov 23, 2016
Rhee opts out; 18 votes apart in 156th; Publicly funded school run by privately selected board ignores taxpayer impact



Regional Basic Education Funding Formula Workshops
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 @ 9:00 am: Luzerne IU 18
(368 Tioga Ave, Kingston, PA 18704)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 @ 6:00 pm: Chester County IU 24
(455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335)



Pa. House candidates, 18 votes apart, take ballot fight to election board
Inquirer by Michaelle Bond, STAFF WRITER Updated: NOVEMBER 22, 2016 — 3:48 PM EST
With a mere 18 votes -- out of more than 36,000 cast -- separating the Democratic and GOP nominees in the state House race in Chester County, attorneys for the rivals argued Tuesday over whether 21 unopened provisional ballots should be counted.  The Chester County Board of Elections, which consists of the county's three commissioners, decided to count two of the ballots, which remain unopened pending any appeals, and throw out 19 that they determined weren't submitted by the appropriate deadlines or didn't meet other requirements.  West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, a Democrat, has 18 more votes than three-term GOP incubment Rep. Dan Truitt.  Republicans have their largest majority in the House in 60 years, according to GOP officials. At the unofficial vote count on Nov. 9, Truitt was part of that group, ahead by fewer than 80 votes. After county officials counted military and absentee ballots, however, Truitt lost that lead.

Chester County Board of Elections rules on provisional ballots in 156th state Legislative District
By Michael Rellahan, Daily Local News POSTED: 11/22/16, 4:53 PM EST
WEST CHESTER >> The final result of the state representative election for Pennsylvania’s 156th Legislative District has yet to be decided, but the process for determining the winner has moved one step closer toward completion.  The Chester County Board of Elections, which is composed of the three county commissioners, met Tuesday morning to hear arguments on whether a number of provisional ballots cast in the 156th District should be accepted or rejected.  State Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen, and West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, a Democrat who challenged Truitt in this year’s election, each attended the meeting with their attorneys. According to unofficial election results posted on Chester County’s website on the evening of Election Day, Truitt was on track to be re-elected to a fourth term in the state House, as he was ahead of Comitta by 78 votes. Truitt garnered a total of 18,196 votes on Election Day; Comitta received a total of 18,118 votes, according to the unofficial results.  However, Comitta now appears to be ahead of Truitt by 18 votes, after all of the absentee ballots, including ballots sent in from Americans living abroad or serving in the military, had been counted. The provisional ballots have not been factored into these results.

“The BASD school board, elected by the citizens of the district, is particularly disappointed by the refusal of LVA, a publicly funded school run by a privately selected board, to cooperate in addressing the financial burden charter tuition places on local taxpayers.  Unfortunately, LVA rejected all of the proposed charter changes aimed at saving the BASD and its taxpayers money.”
Bethlehem Area School District Statement on Charter School Renewal November, 2016
Bethlehem Area School District BASD Blog November 22, 2016
Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (LVA) submitted a request to have its charter renewed by the Bethlehem Area School Board, as required by state law. The Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) proposed that the renewed charter include several provisions that are in the interest of the taxpayers and the students of the BASD.  These proposed revisions would have no significant impact on the ability of the charter school to continue to function. BASD’s proposals were aimed at curbing the skyrocketing cost of tuition payments made by the district to LVA. Tuition payments to LVA, mandated by law, increased from $4.8 million for the 2009- 2010 school year to $10.0 million in the 2015-2016 school year.  The Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) regrets to report that the LVA has refused to partner with the district in an effort to stem the rising cost of the charter school to the BASD taxpayers.

Easton's first charter publicly funded school run by privately selected board approved
Michelle Merlin Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call November 22, 2016
Come next fall, Easton area kindergarten through fifth grade students could be walking through the doors of a new charter school instead of their local elementary school.  The Easton Area School District school board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Easton's first charter school, Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School. Thomas Lubben, founder of the K-5school, plans to model the Easton school after a similar arts school he started in Allentown. He also founded schools in Bethlehem and Salisbury Township.  Lubben's schools place an emphasis on the arts, with students between two to three hours of artistic training a day, ranging from performance to visual arts. Lubben plans to open for the fall 2017 term and so far has about 175 students enrolled in the school, which is expected to occupy the former Express-Times building on North Fourth Street.  "We're thrilled for the opportunity to come to Easton," Lubben said.  Some school directors were less than thrilled about the school breaking on to Easton's education scene, and said the charter school will take funding away from public school students.  Director Dominick Buscemi said he voted yes not because he favors charter schools, but because the state leaves school boards little choice in the matter.

Pittsburgh City Charter High applauded for academic achievement
Pittsburgh Courier November 20, 2016
PITTSBURGH—The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the 2016 School Performance Profile, which assigns grades to district and charter schools based on academic achievement and growth measures.  City Charter High School CEO and Principal Ron Sofo issued the following statement after learning that they earned an 89.8 out of 100, the highest SPP score among all Pittsburgh Public Schools, including district and public charter schools:  “On behalf of City High’s board and administration, I would like to express how proud we are of our students and educators for their hard work and dedication in accomplishing this notable achievement.  I am especially proud that we have achieved this success as an open enrollment school that accepts all students, regardless of previous academic or behavior record.  At City High, we’ve created a nurturing learning environment that helps our students grow to reach their potential. External validation feels good because this work is so difficult, but we also know that we need to keep improving if we want to ensure the success of every single child that walks through our doors.

Pittsburgh schools get mixed marks in A+ Schools' report card
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 22, 2016 12:16 AM
Graduation rates for Pittsburgh Public’s regular high schools have increased since 2012, and a handful of city schools and one charter saw racial achievement gaps of fewer than 10 points on some state tests last school year.  But the latest report from educational advocacy group A+ Schools also found that high percentages of students missed 10 percent or more of school days or received suspensions during the 2015-16 school year — and that the state’s version of the national Common Core State Standards for grades 3-8 made narrowing the difference between black and white achievement an even bigger challenge.  Executive director James Fogarty on Monday presented the organization’s 12th Annual Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh, compiled using district- and state-reported data from the 2015-16 school year for 51 district schools and eight charter schools within city limits.

“Act 1 is a property tax relief last that caps the amount a district can raise property taxes without first getting voter approval. According to the timeline, a preliminary budget must be available for public inspection by Jan. 26. Then a public notice of adoption must be submitted by Feb. 5 and adoption must take place 10 days later.  “Clearly doing a budget this early poses some challenges,” Goodin said. “Of note, the major challenges are the lack of two things: current year data and the state budget.”
Spring-Ford board eyes $157.9M draft preliminary budget, $4M gap
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 11/22/16, 6:54 PM EST
ROYERSFORD >> Early projections in the Spring-Ford Areas School District show a preliminary budget gap of nearly $4 million for the 2017-18 school year.  Superintendent David Goodin and finance director James Fink presented the proposed preliminary budget of $157.9 million during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. With approximately $149 million in revenue, combined with about $4 million in fund balance appropriation and a transfer of approximately $860,000 from committed funds (retirement), the district has to make up about $3.9 million to balance the budget.  If it feels too early to be talking about next year’s budget, you’re not wrong. But the lack of a board meeting in December (other than the Dec. 5 reorganization meeting) forces the district to begin preliminary budget talks now, in order to stay in line with Pennsylvania’s Act 1 preliminary budget timeline.


Michelle Rhee takes herself out of the running for Trump’s education secretary
Washington Post By Emma Brown November 22 at 4:38 PM 
Michelle Rhee, who rose to national prominence as the controversial chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, appeared on Tuesday to take herself out of the running to become President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary.  Rhee’s name had been circulated as a potential candidate for education secretary, speculation that only intensified after she and her husband — former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson — met with Trump over the weekend. Trump pronounced them both “greatly talented” and, according to his transition team, they spoke about “the possibility for increasing competition through charter and choice schools.”  Rhee put the education secretary rumors to bed on Tuesday afternoon, tweeting that she was not pursuing the position. But she pushed back against criticism by some in the education reform community that she should not have met with Trump, given his statements about women, immigrants, Muslims and people with disabilities.

Michelle Rhee Says She's 'Not Pursuing' Education Secretary Job Under Trump
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on November 22, 2016 4:25 PM
Former District of Columbia Public Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee has said she isn't seeking to be President-elect Donald Trump's education secretary, but said she appreciated the chance to discuss education issues with him.   Rhee met with Trump last Saturday, ramping up speculation that she would be Trump's nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Here's what Rhee said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon:

Michelle Rhee was an outsider trying to tear up the school bosses, just like Trump
Washington Post By Jay Mathews Columnist November 22 at 4:47 PM 
In his 2010 documentary “Waiting For ‘Superman’,” Davis Guggenheim used me as a talking head to explain one of the movie’s heroes, D.C. Public Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. I said Rhee was “somebody who had not gotten a Ph.D, who had only been a teacher three years, hadn’t been a principal, hadn’t been a superintendent anywhere else, and said she was going to tear up the district.”  That sounds like a possible Trump Secretary of Education to me. She met the president-elect on Saturday, but she tweeted Tuesday that she is not going to pursue a position in the administration.  It is likely not the last we will hear of her. She is one of the most unusual figures ever to gain prominence in American education. At 46 she will likely attract offers for other big jobs, given the widespread frustration with slow progress in schools and her unusually strong appeal to conservatives.

Education Under Trump: Who Will Ride Shotgun, and Who Will Get Locked Out?
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on November 22, 2016 7:45 AM
By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa
President-elect Donald Trump hasn't picked an education secretary yet, and he didn't talk a great deal about schools on the campaign trail. But his triumph in the election already has radically altered the prospects for various K-12 groups in the next several years, both inside Washington and out.  So with the dust still settling after the Nov. 8 results, who looks set to prosper under the Trump presidency, and who's going to be tempted to put on sackcloth and ashes for a while? We've provided a list below—let us know if you think any group is missing or miscategorized.

“Even though K-12 education is largely a female enterprise, men dominate the chief executive's office in the nation's nearly 14,000 districts, numbers that look especially bleak given that the pool of talent is deep with women. Women make up 76 percent of teachers, 52 percent of principals, and 78 percent of central-office administrators, according to federal data and the results of a recent national survey. Yet they account for less than a quarter of all superintendents, according to a survey conducted this summer by AASA, the School Superintendents Association. But that number represents improvement since 2000, when 13 percent were women.”
Few Women Run the Nation's School Districts. Why?
Stubborn gender gap in the top job
Education Week By Denisa R. Superville November 15, 2016
Nearly a decade after she was hired as the first woman to run the Council Bluffs, Iowa, school district, Mary Martha Bruckner is often one of the only women in the room.  That was the case last month when about two dozen superintendents and finance officers from Iowa's urban school systems met to set their legislative agenda for the coming year.  Surveying the room, Bruckner spotted two other women.  "It was like, 'Wow, things haven't changed much at all,' " said Bruckner, who is used to being a pioneer. In 1986, she became the first female high school principal in the Ralston, Neb., district.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: November 16-22, 2016
Submitted by fairtest on November 22, 2016 - 2:19pm 
As fallout from November 8 continues to settle, activists across the nation are already pressing newly elected legislators to reduce testing volume, eliminate high-stakes standardized exams, and promote better forms of assessment.   Happy Thanksgiving to all!


“The “Success Starts Here” campaign is a multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education through advertising, web, social media, traditional media and word-of-mouth with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania. The campaign is lead by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, but relies on the support of a wide variety of participating organizations.”
Share Your School’s Story: Success Starts Here Needs You!
Success Starts Here needs you! Show your support by sharing stories, using social media and applying window clings to all of your school buildings. Below are some links to resources to help you help us.
Not sure where to start? This simple tool kit will provide to you everything you need to get involved in the campaign, including ways to work with the media, social media tips, a campaign article to post, downloadable campaign logos, and photo release forms.
We know you have great stories, and it’s easy to share them! Just use our simple form to send your success story to be featured on our website. Help spread the word about how Success Starts Here in today’s public schools.
All school entities have been sent a supply of window clings for school building entrances. Need more? No problem! Just complete the online order form and more will quickly be on their way to you.

CCIU to host documentary screening and educational discussion
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 11/21/16, 3:25 PM EST 
DOWNINGTOWN >> Joining a worldwide campaign to re-imagine education, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) will host a screening and discussion of “Most Likely to Succeed.”
The documentary screening will be on Nov. 30 from 5:45 – 8 p.m. at the Technical College High School Brandywine Campus at 455 Boot Road. It will feature a student panel, round-table dialogue and an open forum discussion following the screening. Complimentary dinner will be served at 5 p.m.  “Most Likely to Succeed” offers an innovative look at the current educational system and asks audiences to consider a new vision. The film examines the history of education in the United States, revealing the growing shortcomings of conventional education methods in today’s technology-driven world, according to film-makers. They added that the film offers an “inspiring look at what students and teachers are capable” of with a vision and the courage to transform their schools.

Webinar: PSBA Board President’s Forum DEC 7, 2016 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Join fellow board presidents and superintendents for the latest topics affecting public education in this new webinar series hosted by 2016 President Kathy Swope.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

PASBO is seeking eager leaders! Ready to serve on the board? Deadline for intent letter is 12/31.
PASBO members who desire to seek election as Director or Vice President should send a letter of intent with a current resume and picture to the Immediate Past President Wanda M. Erb, PRSBA, who is chair of the PASBO Nominations and Elections Committee.

Regional Basic Education Funding Formula Workshops
PASA, PSBA, PAIU, PARSS, the PA Principals Association and PASBO are traveling around the state to conduct regional workshops for school leaders to provide them with more information on the new basic education funding formula. Register below to attend one of 8 regional workshops to learn more about the new formula and what it means for your school district and for the state. Please note that capacity is limited at each location and registration is required. A webcast option is also available. These regional workshops are being supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 @ 9:00 am: Luzerne IU 18
(368 Tioga Ave, Kingston, PA 18704)
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 @ 6:00 pm: Chester County IU 24
(455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335)

Public Forum: Who should run Philadelphia's schools? Thursday, Dec. 8, 6-7:30 p.m. Drexel University - Behrakis Grand Hall
Join us for a public forum featuring state, city and civic leaders sponsored by Philadelphia Media Network, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Drexel University's School of Education.
Creese Student Center 3210 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
It's been 15 years since the state took control of Philadelphia's schools and created the School Reform Commission. Since then, the SRC has been a polarizing presence in the city.
With the recent resignation of two members of the commission and the term of a third expiring soon, the future of the SRC and the issue of school governance is once again at the forefront of the civic dialogue. Is the SRC the only model to consider?  Should Philadelphia create an elected school board, or should the governing body be controlled by the Mayor? Are there models in other cities that could help us rethink our own school governance?   The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Media Network -- owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com, and Drexel University's School of Education are hosting a public forum on this critical issue.
RSVP - Admission is free, but you must register in advance. Register now, and find out more about the panelists and other details at our registration page.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/who-should-run-philadelphias-schools-tickets-28926705555
NSBA Advocacy Institute 2017 -- Jan. 29-31, Washington, D.C.
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
  • NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
  • Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
  • Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
This event is open to members of the Federal Relations Network. To find out how you can join, contact Jamie.Zuvich@psba.org. Learn more about the Advocacy Institute at https://www.nsba.org/events/advocacy-institute.

Register now for the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference 
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.

SAVE THE DATE LWVPA Convention 2017 June 1-4, 2017
Join the League of Women Voters of PA for our 2017 Biennial Convention at the beautiful Inn at Pocono Manor!

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