Tuesday, May 16, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup May 16: PA schools receive about $143 million annually for Medicaid funded special ed services

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup May 16, 2017:
PA schools receive about $143 million annually for Medicaid funded special ed services

Get out and VOTE today

Sen. Casey warns schools could be on the hook for Medicaid cuts
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, notes the proposed Medicaid cuts would extend beyond doctor offices and into schools.
Tom Shortell Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call May 15, 2017
Deep Medicaid cuts in the U.S. House version of Obamacare repeal would be felt far from doctor's offices, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey warned Monday in a Bethlehem middle school library.
Pennsylvania schools received about $135 million in Medicaid funding last year to cover programs for preschoolers and special education students, the Scranton Democrat told reporters at Northeast Middle School.  "By decimating and underwriting Medicaid, you are forcing local taxpayers here in Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley to get stuck with the bill," Casey said. Casey has been a vocal opponent of the American Health Care Act, the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. While much of the focus has been on how it would affect premiums and treat Americans with pre-existing conditions, theGOP bill also would cut $880 billion from Medicaid, Casey pointed out. The federal/state program helps the low-income, the elderly and the disabled.  Republican Pat Toomey, Casey's colleague in the Senate, argues spending on Medicaid must be scaled back. Senate Republican leaders have said they will set aside the House bill and write their own Obamacare replacement. Pennsylvania is among 30 states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, providing coverage to 700,000 more people. State taxpayers could cover some of those costs if federal tax money is phased out, or services would have to be cut.

“Under the proposed change, there could be restrictions to: hearing-impaired services, nursing services, occupational therapy services, personal care and physical therapy services, psychological and social work services, speech and language and specialized transportation services, among many other critical support systems,” said Casey Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.”
KATE GIAMMARISE Pittsburgh Post-Gazette kgiammarise@post-gazette.com 12:00 AM
MAY 15, 2017
The bill passed by the U.S. House to repeal the Affordable Care Act, now being considered by the Senate, would make deep cuts to Medicaid — which threatens millions in special education dollars for local school districts.  The money pays for items such as therapy equipment, portable stair climbers, or a device that might help visually impaired students do their schoolwork, as well as certain aides.  Medicaid, the health insurance coverage for low-income and disabled individuals that is jointly paid for by states and the federal government, reimburses schools for health-related services for special education students.  In Pennsylvania, schools receive about $143 million annually for these services.  Federal law requires schools to have individualized education plans for each special needs child and to provide appropriate services. In other words, said Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, schools are mandated to meet the needs of special education students. The federal cuts would push costs to either the state or local communities. “The state is going to be challenged to come up with those dollars,” he said.

Medicaid Expansion, Reversed by House, Is Back on Table in Senate
New York Times By ROBERT PEAR MAY 15, 2017
WASHINGTON — Senate negotiators, meeting stiff resistance to the House’s plans to sharply reduce the scope and reach of Medicaid, are discussing a compromise that would maintain the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act but subject that larger version of Medicaid to new spending limits.  With 62 senators, including 20 Republicans, coming from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the House’s American Health Care Act almost certainly cannot pass the Senate. The House bill could leave millions of Medicaid beneficiaries without health coverage, but in a House debate focused more on pre-existing medical conditions and tax cuts, the sweeping Medicaid changes received little attention.  Those changes would, for the first time, put Medicaid on a budget, limiting federal payments to states for care provided to tens of millions of low-income people — not just those who gained Medicaid coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but also children, people with disabilities and nursing home residents who have been eligible for decades under the law that created Medicaid in 1965. The House bill would cut expected Medicaid spending by more than $800 billion over 10 years, according to the most recent estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

“Portman and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., are among senators on McConnell’s 13-member working group from states that expanded Medicaid. The group includes no women, which has drawn criticism from Democrats and others.”
Senate GOP weighs future of Medicaid in health care overhaul
PBS Newdhour BY ALAN FRAM, ASSOCIATED PRESS  May 9, 2017 at 3:44 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans trying to craft a health care overhaul discussed Tuesday how to ease provisions in the House-passed bill phasing out President Barack Obama’s expansion of Medicaid. On television talk shows and congressional town hall meetings, meanwhile, attention on the GOP drive to repeal Obama’s law showed no signs of fading. Members of a working group appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met privately and said their discussions centered on Medicaid, the health care program for poor and disabled people.  The House bill would end extra federal payments in 2020 that Obama’s law provides to states that have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover more lower-income people. Senators from some of the 31 states that enlarged their programs want to prevent an abrupt cutoff of that money.

Senate moderates hold bipartisan health care talks
Inquirer by ALAN FRAM, The Associated Press Updated: MAY 15, 2017 — 7:48 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Moderate senators from both parties met Monday to explore whether they can work on bipartisan legislation overhauling the nation's health care system.  The evening session came as Republican senators have begun closed-door meetings aimed at crafting a GOP bill scuttling much of President Barack Obama's health care law.  With the political stakes high over health care, there seems little chance that a band of moderates from both parties would produce a package that will become the Senate's chief bill, at least until Republicans have exhausted efforts to produce their own legislation.  But Monday's meeting underscored that Democratic and Republican centrists consider it important to show home-state voters that they are seeking middle ground and are not using the issue to score partisan points.  There are already divisions between conservatives and GOP moderates over what their party's bill should look like, with the two factions clashing over issues including Medicaid cuts. Republican leaders are hoping to produce a consensus GOP bill by this summer.

GOP Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai mulls run for governor
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 05/15/17, 11:33 AM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai is making his first big pitch for support from the Republican faithful to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018 and said he hopes to make a formal announcement of his candidacy in the coming months.  In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Turzai informed state Republican Party committee members he is seriously considering a run, and he detailed his accomplishments in the House and as a fundraiser helping other Republican candidates around Pennsylvania. He also appeared to take aim at competitors for the GOP nomination, without naming them.  “Unlike others, I have been carrying the Republican agenda for more than a decade,” Turzai wrote. “I don’t need focus groups to tell me where my principles are. And I’m not trying to buy this election with my own money. I have a history of winning, not just elections, but important policy battles.”  He wrote in the four-page letter — received in the mail Friday by committee members — that he hopes to make a formal announcement in the summer or early fall.  Wolf is running for a second four-year term in next year’s election and so far has no announced opponent for the party’s nomination.
Two GOP candidates are already in the mix for the Republican Party’s nomination.

“A significant portion of voucher dollars go to expensive private schools that serve high proportions of affluent children. Just 23 of the most exclusive – and most expensive (average tuition of $32,000) – Pennsylvania private schools received $11.2 million in EITC and OSTC tax credits in 2014-15, 9% of the total. Haverford School alone received $2.2 million, buying down its $37,500 tuition for…we have no idea. We know nothing about the racial or ethnic makeup of scholarship recipients. Further, while the OSTC and EITC programs are supposed to be incomelimited, there does not appear to be any auditing of whether students receiving scholarships meet the income requirements. Lastly, there is no policing of “side deals” in which affluent families provide, for example $35,000 in tax credits for a cut in tuition to half that level. Everyone wins…except the taxpayer.”
EITC: STILL NO ACCOUNTABILITY with Taxpayer-Funded Vouchers for Private and Religious School Tuition
PA Budget and Policy Center Report by Stephen Herzenberg and Rachel Tabachnik April 2017 Despite Pennsylvania’s structural deficit and Governor Wolf’s proposal to cut tax credits by $100 million in 2017-18, lawmakers are currently considering expanding by 44%, or $55 million, two programs that already provide $125 million in taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend religious or other private schools. As well as diverting additional revenues from the General Fund without a revenue source in sight, this expansion is problematic because of a complete lack of financial and educational accountability within the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program and the part of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program that funds taxpayer-funded vouchers. Two of many issues with these voucher programs, revealed in this report, are the extent to which curricula at schools attended by taxpayer subsidized scholarships teach creationism and present the bible as literal truth in history and other subjects; and the extent to which tax-credit dollars, while marketed as serving low-income students in low-performing school districts, subsidize exclusive private schools catering mostly to the very affluent.

“In 2015, a bipartisan commission of lawmakers and administration officials crafted a basic education funding formula to address inequities in Pennsylvania’s education funding.  The problem is, the way the law is currently written, only “new” state funding gets funneled into this funding formula. That means only 6 percent of the state’s annual basic education subsidy (or $352 million) has gone into the basic education funding formula, while $5.9 billion was distributed under the old system.  Consequently, poorer school districts—and, specifically, school districts with a higher minority student population — still lost valuable state support that they desperately need.”
All Studies Show that Class and Race Drive this Unconstitutional Reality
Senator Hughes Website May 2017
The fight for equal education funding in Pennsylvania has been going on for over 100 years.  Generations of students in Pennsylvania have suffered because this state refuses to see all of Pennsylvania students as equal.  Despite recent efforts to address spending inequities among “rich” and “poor” school districts, two recent studies are showing that education funding is still being distributed unfairly with a distinct racial bias.
·         POWER (Philadelphia Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) Report: Systematic Racial Bias in Latest Pennsylvania School Funding (July 2016)
·         Education Law Center Report: Money Matters in Education Justice (March 2017)
This outrageous and unconstitutional injustice, where some classrooms are spending over two to three times more money on their students as others, must end.  Morally and according to the PA Constitution, every student deserves equal funding and an equal opportunity to receive the tools they need to succeed.  No matter income, zip code, or race.  The fact is, basic education funding has been a target of the Right for years. We are still working to rebuild from the devastating $1 billion education cuts under the Corbett administration. We’re making progress but it’s clear that we have a long way to go.

“Murrell Dobbins has a robust culinary department, training high school student to cook as a vocational skill. The program is funded in part by the new soda tax pushed through by the mayor.  The three-year program attracts 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. About 90 are currently in the program. According to teachers, half of them enter as sophomores expecting to be TV celebrity chefs.”
Philly honors top chefs, recognizes upcoming talent at Murrell Dobbins high school
The city of Philadelphia officially honored three restaurant owners who won the highest awards in their industry.  Two weeks ago, the coveted James Beard awards went to Steven Starr (best restaurateur), Michael Solomonov (best chef), and Greg Vernick (best chef, Mid-Atlantic region). All three came to Murrell Dobbins high school in North Philadelphia to receive an official city proclamation from Mayor Jim Kenney, and to lend their support to the next generation of chefs. "I was surprised we were even invited," said Vernick, who owns and operates Vernick Food and Drink. "We got the email, and we're like: 'Really? The mayor wants to see us? Absolutely!'" The mayor presented each of them with a proclamation, and a desktop Liberty Bell. "These award-winning chefs make our restaurant scene in Philadelphia the high-caliber scene that it is," said Kenney. "We are really cooking with gas in our restaurant scene."

Downingtown area school board members approve $216M budget for 2017-18
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News POSTED: 05/14/17, 8:33 PM EDT
EAST CALN >> Downingtown area school board members approved a $216 million budget last week without a tax increase for the fifth consecutive year.  School board member Carl Croft, chairman of the finance committee, thanked the other board members and administration for their efforts to create a budget that “not only meets, but exceeds the needs of nearly 13,000 children while keeping to the board’s goal of a zero percent tax increase.”  Croft said that the budget reflects the “district’s efforts to control costs despite large increases in areas such as health care, retirement contributions and staffing needs.” The budget includes a 2.7 percent increase in expenses from last year’s budget.  Croft said that the school board and community members recognize the need to provide their students with a rigorous curriculum. He also praised the past and present school board members for their planning efforts and focus to improve the education of the students.

“Director Dean Donaher said Bethlehem wouldn't have had to raise taxes the last five years if it wasn't funding skyrocketing pension and charter school costs. He said he's not anti-charter but wants a level playing field, like cyber charter tuition reimbursement at actual cost.  Donaher urged state lawmakers to tackle those issues and take a strong look at properly funding public education at the state level.  "Kids are getting the education they need because the local taxpayer picks up the tab year after year," said Michael Faccinetto, school board president.”
Bethlehem schools' lowest tax hike in years still has pain
For lehighvalleylive.com BY SARA K. SATULLO  ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com, Updated on May 16, 2017 at 6:07 AM Posted on May 16, 2017 at 6:01 AM
While the Bethlehem Area School Board is proposing one of its smallest tax hikes in recent years, the news isn't good for taxpayers in the Lehigh County section of the district.   On Monday night, the board voted 7-1 to approve a $268.4 million proposed final budget that would increase taxes by 2.31 percent on average. Director Tom Thomasik voted against the plan and Director Shannon L. Patrick was absent due to a personal emergency.  But the average is a bit misleading as Lehigh County taxpayers will see a much larger tax hike due to a change in a state calculation.  "That is not due to any actions of the school district," Superintendent Joseph Roy said.
The median Northampton County homeowner's tax bill would rise by $72 under the proposal. In neighboring Lehigh County, the median bill would rise by almost $154.

Study finds being bullied in grade school may affect health and well-being as kids get older
WHYY Newsworks BY JOEL WOLFRAM MAY 15, 2017
A study led by the University of Delaware has found new evidence that being bullied in school may have lasting health consequences.  Using observational data collected from a sample of children who were studied over several years, researchers reported that kids who were bullied more frequently when they were younger were more likely to use certain drugs by the time they were in high school.  The study, which was published last week in the journal Pediatrics, adds to existing research finding a link between nasty treatment by peers and drug use.  The data came from more than 4,000 students sampled from districts in Los Angeles County, Birmingham, Alabama, and Houston, Texas, who were studied as they advanced from fifth to 10th grade. Among this racially and ethnically diverse group of students, suffering frequent incidents of "peer victimization" — used to measure how much a student had been bullied — in fifth grade was associated with using alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco in 10th grade.

Charlie Dent says he'll try to 'protect' after-school programs Trump wants to cut
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call May 15,2017
ALLENTOWN — Jaylene Bencosme loves going to her after-school program at Washington Elementary in Allentown.  Jaylene, 10, can get help with her homework, practice yoga or make some art for her bedroom at home, as she was doing Monday afternoon. After a full day of school, it's nice to go to the after-school program for a few hours and just relax, she said. "I'm usually stressed out in school," Jaylene said. "I really like the program. There's a lot of fun things we do."  The after-school program at Washington is part of 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which provide after-school and summer programs to 1.6 million children nationwide, many of whom are from low-income families. More than 700 Allentown School District students attend the after-school programs, which could be cut if President Donald Trump's budget for the upcoming fiscal year starting in October is passed without changes. Trump proposed completely eliminating the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Monday afternoon, Lehigh Valley congressman Charlie Dent, a Republican, visited Jaylene's after-school program at Washington, where nearly all children are deemed low-income.

Four Education Leaders Join Chiefs For Change
Education Week District Dossier Blog  By Denisa R. Superville on May 15, 2017 9:31 AM
Chiefs for Change continues to expand into the ranks of school district leaders, with two urban schools chiefs among the four new members.   The district leaders are William Hite, the superintendent of Philadelphia Public Schools, and Paymon Rouhanifard, the superintendent of New Jersey's Camden school district.  Kunjan Narechania, the superintendent of Louisiana's Recovery School District, a state-run system that oversees charter schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is also a member of the new class. The lone state chief in the group is Candice McQueen, Tennessee's commissioner of education.  Chiefs for Change, once part of the former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education and comprised solely of state education chiefs, has spun off as an independent organization. It now focuses on leadership, personalized learning, and the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal K-12 law.  The organization has been steadily adding urban school district chiefs: Of the 26 members, only six lead state education systems. 

“The student-teacher ratio is 7-to-1, a lot lower than the national average of 16.1-to-1 in 2013”
Here's What You Need to Know About the School Barron Trump Will Attend
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on May 15, 2017 1:44 PM
President Donald Trump's son Barron will be moving to Washington soon. And next school year, he'll attend St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Md., said a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, the first lady.  The school, which was founded in 1978, is in an upscale suburb a little over 20 miles from the White House. It offers preschool through 12th grade classes, which means Barron could technically graduate from the school, if his family stays in Washington that long. (Barron, 11, currently attends the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan. He remained in New York City to finish out the school year there.)  St. Andrew's has about 580 students, according to its website, making it a medium- to large-sized private school for the area. The student-teacher ratio is 7-to-1, a lot lower than the national average of 16.1-to-1 in 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And tuition at St. Andrew's runs from $23,490 for prekindergarten to $40,650 for high school. (For more on the cost of private schools as it relates to recent presidents, go here.)

Nominations for PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award
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.  In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators.  The 2017 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 15, 2017. The application due date is July 16, 2017 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.

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:
·         2017-19 Central Section at Large Representative – includes Regions 4, 5, 6, 9 and 12  (for the remaining two years of a three-year term)
·         2018-20 Western At Large Representative – includes   Regions 1, 2, 3, 13 and 14 (three-year term)
In addition to the application form, PSBA Governing Board Policy 302 asks that all candidates furnish with their application a recent, print quality photograph and letters of application. The application form specifies no less than three letters of recommendation and no more than four, and are specifically requested as follows:
o    One from superintendent or school director of home entity
o    One from a school director from another school district
o    Other individuals familiar with the candidate's leadership skills
PSBA Governing Board Policy 108 also outlines the campaign procedures of candidates.
All terms of office commence January 1 following election.

PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings coming in May!
Don’t be left in the dark on legislation that affects your district! Learn the latest from your legislators at PSBA Spring Town Hall Meetings. Conveniently offered at 10 locations around the state throughout May, this event will provide you with the opportunity to interact face-to-face with key lawmakers from your area. Enjoy refreshments, connect with colleagues, and learn what issues impact you and how you can make a difference. Log in to the Members Area to register today for this FREE event!
  • 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
For assistance with registration, please contact Michelle Kunkel at 717-506-2450 ext. 3365.

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!

Pennsylvania Education Leadership Summit July 23-25, 2017 Blair County Convention Center - Altoona
A three-day event providing an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together
co-sponsored by PASA, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, PASCD and the PA Association for Middle Level Education
**REGISTRATION IS OPEN**Early Bird Registration Ends after April 30!
Keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics, and district team planning and job-alike sessions will provide practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit and utilized at the district level.
Keynote Speakers:
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 
Breakout session strands:
*Strategic/Cultural Leadership
*Systems Leadership
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership 
CLICK HERE to access the Summit website for program, hotel and registration information.

Save the Date 2017 PA Principals Association State Conference October 14. 15, 16, 2017
Doubletree Hotel Cranberry Township, PA

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