Louis M. Shucker is an attorney in private practice and a former member of the Schuylkill Valley School Board.
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | firstname.lastname@example.org Email the author | Follow on Twitter on May 08, 2017 at 5:24 PM, updated May 08, 2017 at 8:43 PM
The Pennsylvania Senate gave swift and easy passage Monday to a bill that would extend "good Samaritan" immunity to school bus drivers and crossing guards called upon to administer auto-injectors like EpiPens to students. The bill, which also passed the state House earlier this year, now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf for enactment. Wolf is expected to sign it. The bill is designed to encourage bus drivers and crossing guards to take action and use an EpiPen if they encounter a student in the throes of a serious allergic reaction. Its language would give them full civil immunity as long as they act within policies established by their employers, and have completed a training program to be developed by the state Department of Health. Chief sponsor Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh County, said liability concerns were at the root of a dispute in the Southern Lehigh School District, where several constituents were asking the district to permit bus drivers to administer Epi-Pens. Many districts already have such policies in place.
“Business Manager Steve Dart said he has serious concerns about five state and federal funding streams that still are unknowns. They are the ACCESS program for services for students with disabilities, Title II for professional development, state basic education funding, state special education funding and transportation-cost reimbursements. "I don't know what numbers to use," Dart said. "There's that much uncertainty at state and federal levels." Like other school districts, Chambersburg continues to be slammed by increased contributions to the state pension system. Chambersburg will pay $8.4 million into the system in the 2017-18 school year after receiving partial state reimbursement.”
Chambersburg school board preserves programs in initial budget
Herald Mail by Jennifer Fitch May 10, 2017 Updated 8 hrs ago
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Chambersburg Area School Board on Wednesday adopted a preliminary budget after questioning details of several requests from administrators. The preliminary budget preserves items that earlier were listed as potential cuts. They include club advisers, technology education, overtime, athletic programs, music and art programs, transportation offerings and academic enrollment offered at the Career Magnet School to students who don't take additional vocational classes. The school board is seeking to raise property taxes 4.5 percent to support $133.7 million in spending. The board listed its total expenditures as $136.7 million to give it future spending authority and flexibility as an emergency fund.
Jeannette schools faced with furloughs, tax hike and realignment
Trib Live by RENATTA SIGNORINI | Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Jeannette school directors will vote next week on a preliminary 2017-18 budget that includes a property tax increase, staff furloughs and a realignment of seventh and eighth grades. The board directed business manager Paul Sroka to prepare a spending plan that includes a 1.5-mill property tax increase — which would cost the average taxpayer about $17 more annually. The median house value in the district is about $11,340 based on the last countywide property assessment conducted in 1973, Sroka said. One mill brings in $61,000. Several directors balked at a proposal to raise taxes by 3 mills. The district currently assesses a tax rate of $85 — or 85 mills — per $1,000 of assessed property value. “People in this town cannot afford a tax increase ... year after year after year,” said Director Joseph Yorio. “We have to do what's necessary now.”
Taxable properties in the city have decreased by $3.7 million since the 2011-12 school year as businesses have left and properties have been revalued, Sroka said. In the past year alone, the amount of taxable properties decreased by $293,270, he said.
“A one-mill increase nets you nothing,” Sroka told the board.
Latrobe school district faces funding shortfall
Trib Live by JEFF HIMLER | Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 9:24 p.m.
Greater Latrobe School District is looking at a $595,803 shortfall in 2017-18, according to a tentative budget report to the school board by business administrator Dan Watson. That's the equivalent of a potential 1.75-mill property tax increase on top of the current 79 mills.
The board will vote on a tentative $55.4 million budget on May 23. Watson expressed hope the proposed tax hike can be whittled down by June 27, when a final version of the budget will be approved. Watson said the district anticipates a .05 percent decrease in the expenditures it can control but will see teacher pension contribution expenditures increase by $651,927, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year. Watson said a 1.75-mill tax hike would increase the average property owner's bill by about $40.
Erie public schools are consolidating to survive
Marketplace By Amy Scott May 10, 2017 | 4:00 PM
Here’s how bad things had become for the chronically broken public school system in Erie, Pennsylvania: Earlier this year, Superintendent Jay Badams floated a proposal to close the city’s high schools — all four of them — and pay tuition to send kids to better-funded schools in the surrounding county. The pushback, Badams said, was intense. “One of the ones that sticks with me is that, ‘We hope you solve your financial problems. We don't want your troubled city kids out here in our county schools. Why do you think we moved out to the county in the first place?’ ” Badams recalled. “And some of them were far worse.” Another guy pulled Badams aside at a hockey game and said city students might be met with guns at the town line. Badams was trying to make a point. The majority of Erie’s public school students live in poverty, and disproportionate numbers of them have learning disabilities or are just learning English. But, partly due to the way Pennsylvania’s convoluted funding formula works, Erie city receives up to $3,000 less revenue per student than schools in the surrounding county. “If we’re going to be offering kids an inequitable high school experience, something that’s vastly inferior in terms of resources to what’s available to students outside the city limits, we thought it was an ethical decision,” Badams said. In the end, the district went with a less radical plan to consolidate its schools, making better use of the space hollowed out from years of falling enrollment. Two high schools will become middle schools, and two elementary buildings will close.
Richman headed to SRC after Pa. Senate confirmation
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT MAY 10, 2017
After seven shorthanded months, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission will soon have its fifth and final member. The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed Estelle Richman's appointment to the SRC Wednesday. Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Richman, a former state cabinet member under Ed Rendell, to the board Oct. 14. Her nomination lingered in legislative limbo for more than half a year before finally getting the final OK from Harrisburg. Richman still has to be officially sworn in by a judge before she can take her seat on the SRC. Richman replaces Feather Houstoun, a Tom Corbett appointee who resigned in October near the end of her term.
Richman said she met Tuesday with Republican legislators prior to her confirmation. In that meeting, she confirmed her support of charter schools, she said, and committed to striking a "fair" labor deal with the city's teachers union. Richman also told lawmakers that dissolving the SRC in favor of a local school board does not rank among her top priorities, although she said she did not field any questions on the topic.
“Council members, for instance, pressed the district to add more librarians. Just six district schools have full-time librarians this year, and only five are expected to have a full-time librarian next year. As recently as 2002, the district had more than 50 school librarians.”
City Council grills Philly school leaders on suburban students taking prized slots
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT MAY 10, 2017
In its annual review of the School District of Philadelphia's nearly $3 billion budget, City Council members zeroed in on a relatively small item. After questioning from Councilman Bill Greenlee, district officials said 12 suburban students are paying tuition to attend special-admission schools in Philadelphia's public system. The district could not immediately say Wednesday how much tuition the suburban students pay, how long the practice has been in place, or what schools are hosting these students. Council members clearly were not happy about the arrangement. "I just cannot understand how we have this policy, which admits suburban school children to the school district's most desirable schools where we don't have enough space for our own," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass. The district's budget hearing is an annual chance for council members to grill school officials. It can be contentious, especially when the district needs more money. That wasn't the case this year. There was, however, plenty to discuss.
Hite, on the hot seat, says district is working on a PFT contract
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | email@example.com Updated: MAY 10, 2017 — 6:30 PM EDT
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. was on the hot seat Wednesday, fielding City Council's questions on topics ranging from charter school costs to the teachers union's deal in a hearing on the School District's budget. Hite said the district was in "very active" negotiations with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers this week. Teachers have gone without a contract for four years and without a raise for five. Councilwoman Helen Gym, a frequent district critic, urged the superintendent to get a deal done. According to a PFT survey released this week, nearly half of the 1,000 teachers who responded to the union's questions said they had taken a second job during the school year to supplement their incomes, and roughly the same percentage said they were unable to make essential bill payments. More than half said they were "actively looking" for jobs outside the School District. "Thousands of teachers every day go to work feeling profoundly disrespected," Gym said, urging Hite to display "new ideas and new commitments" to teachers.
Hite noted that $65 million annually in new city money — the result of a reassessment of commercial properties — helped the district "significantly increase" its contract offer to the PFT.
Young Playwrights on schools' double standards
Inquirer by Philadelphia Young Playwrights Updated: MAY 10, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
Over the next couple months, Philly.com will host Mouthful, a podcast that features dramatic monologues highlighting the experiences and perspectives of young Philadelphians. These monologues, which are performed by professional actors, are produced by Philly Young Playwrights and Yvonne Latty, director of the Reporting the Nation program at NYU's Carter Journalism Institute.
In a perfect world every child would receive a quality education. Instead, our nation continues to face an outstanding achievement gap between white and non-white students. For decades, the children of poor minorities have been expected to attend their respective neighborhood public schools without choice. These schools are historically known to have less than their private counterparts. Less resources, less rigor, lesswhite students and less opportunity for future upward mobility. Upward mobility is the explanation for why many minority parents who have accumulated more wealth and education tend to choose private schooling for their children over public schools, often with the aid of vouchers and scholarships offered by the private institutions.
Firing the federal lunch lady: A food-fight win
TRIBUNE-REVIEW Editorial Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Calorie-centric school meals force-fed by Washington's central planners and championed by former first lady Michelle Obama are finally off the menu. A measure signed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unshackles school districts from the school-food diktats of the Obama administration and restores local authority. Federal school-food standards implemented under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act reduced salt, calories and meats and increased servings of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But as district food costs went up, those “nutritious” school lunches went into the garbage. “If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition,” Mr. Purdue said. Remember those photos of unappetizing food trays posted by students on Twitter with the #thanksmichelleobama hashtag? Across Pennsylvania, school lunch participation dropped by nearly 87,000 students from 2012-14.
Budget Mix-Up Provides Nation's Schools With Enough Money To Properly Educate Students
The Onion May 9, 2017
Members of Congress say they are “mortified” to be associated with a bill that gives more money to schools.
WASHINGTON—According to bewildered and contrite legislators, a major budgetary mix-up this week inadvertently provided the nation's public schools with enough funding and resources to properly educate students. Sources in the Congressional Budget Office reported that as a result of a clerical error, $80 billion earmarked for national defense was accidentally sent to the Department of Education, furnishing schools with the necessary funds to buy new textbooks, offer more academic resources, hire better teachers, promote student achievement, and foster educational excellence—an oversight that apologetic officials called a "huge mistake."
"Obviously, we did not intend for this to happen, and we are doing everything in our power to right the situation and discipline whoever is responsible," said House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), expressing remorse for the error. "I want to apologize to the American people. The last thing we wanted was for schools to upgrade their technology and lower student-to-teacher ratios in hopes of raising a generation of well-educated, ambitious, and skilled young Americans." "That's the type of irresponsible misspending that I've been focused on eliminating for my entire political career," Ryan added. Ryan went on to tell reporters that the $80 billion budget slip-up will "unfortunately" help schools nationwide to supply students with modernized classrooms and instructional materials. Struggling to control his frustration, Ryan said he prayed the costly mistake would not allow millions of American students to graduate with strong language skills.
Advocates say AHCA threatens key special education funding
Concord Monitor By LOLA DUFFORT Monitor staff Tuesday, May 09, 2017
An unexpected constituency is nervously tracking the progress of the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare – schools. The AHCA, which narrowly cleared the U.S. House last week, would dramatically restructure Medicaid from a program that reimburses – at least in part – whatever eligible expenses providers bill for to a per-capita capped program. The GOP bill would give the program $840 billion less over 10 years to spend. That could deal a big blow to school districts, who rely on Medicaid to help defray the costs of certain medical services provided to students with disabilities. In 2016, Medicaid reimbursements to New Hampshire school districts totaled $29.3 million, according to Department of Health and Human Services records. The AHCA doesn’t specifically target or cut funding for special education in schools. But advocates argue that with a smaller, finite pot of Medicaid money, states will be forced to ration dollars – and potentially cut eligibility for schools entirely. “So when you have fewer dollars, and you still have the same number of people – if not more people – who need to be covered by Medicaid, you’re going to have to be in a position as governor, or state Medicaid director, of deciding who will get reimbursement and who will not,” said Sasha Pudelski, the assistant director of policy and advocacy for AASA, the school superintendents Association.
“The result: Of the 313 schools across Indiana that received vouchers this year, 306 are either part of a religious network, such as a Catholic diocese; have overtly religious names; or proclaim their faith on their websites, according to a Chalkbeat analysis. “
Almost all the private schools getting vouchers in Indiana are religious. Here’s how one school ended up bucking the trend
BY DYLAN PEERS MCCOY - 2 DAYS AGO
Seven-year-old Fallon breathed a sigh of frustration.
Her classmate, 11-year-old Myra, looked across the small round table where they were working. Fallon, sewing a pin cushion, was bent over her needle, struggling to slip thread through its eye. “Here’s a tip,” said Myra. “You see how this is frayed at the end? … You’ve got to ever-so-carefully snip that frayed edge.” Fallon and Myra are students at the School for Community Learning, a progressive private school on the north side of Indianapolis, where kids not only take math and reading but also study less conventional topics like sewing, birding and Hogwarts — classes that bring together children from kindergarten through middle school. The School for Community Learning is unusual among Indiana private schools for not having a religious focus: More than 90 percent of the state’s private schools are religious, compared to 68 percent on average in the U.S.
“DeVos alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." After a storm of criticism, she acknowledged that these colleges were "born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism."
DeVos booed speaking at historically black university
Inquirer by TERRANCE HARRIS, The Associated Press May 10, 2017
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Drawing shouts of "Liar!" and "Just go," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos powered through her commencement address Wednesday at a historically black
"Let's choose to hear one another out," DeVos said, reading her prepared text in a measured tone despite continuing waves of boos, catcalls and scattered applause at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida. As the crowd kept trying to shout her down, university president Edison Jackson briefly took over the microphone to sternly lecture the class of 2017. "If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go," Jackson warned.
EPLC's "Focus on Education" TV Program on PCN - this Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m.
Part 1: Guests will be:
Mike Faccinetto, President, PA School Boards Association
Jackie Cullen, Executive Director, PA Association of Career and Technical Administrators
To discuss the 2016-2017 State of Education report, which was recently released by the PA School Boards Association and highlights success and challenges facing public education.
Part 2: Guests will be:
Greg Rudder, Executive Director, State YMCA of Pennsylvania
David S. John, Jr., Executive Director, PA State Alliance of YMCAs
To discuss YMCA Youth and Government Programs in Pennsylvania.
All EPLC "Focus on Education" TV shows are hosted by EPLC President Ron Cowell.
Visit the EPLC and the Pennsylvania School Funding Project web sites for various resources related to education and school funding issues.
Electing PSBA Officers; Applications Due June 1
All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall send applications to the attention of the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, during the months of April and May an Application for Nomination to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. “The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked by June 1 to be considered and timely filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5.E.).
Open positions are:
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.
- Monday, May 15, 6-8 p.m. — CTC of Lackawanna Co., 3201 Rockwell Avenue, Scranton, PA 18508
- Tuesday, May 16, 6-8 p.m. — PSBA, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
- Wednesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m. — Lycoming CTC, 293 Cemetery Street, Hughesville, PA 17737
- Thursday, May 18, 6-8 p.m. — Chestnut Ridge SD, 3281 Valley Road, Fishertown, PA 15539
Thomas Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership