Wednesday, June 14, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 14: DeVos continues to ignore quality and accountability at National Charter Alliance Conference

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 14, 2017:



The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and plaintiffs from PA Congressional Districts will file a gerrymandering challenge on June 14th  in Harrisburg.  Show your support at 1:30 pm in the Capitol Rotunda



Nominations for PSBA Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16th
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.



Since its 2000 opening, PA Cyber has grown into the largest K-12 online-learning provider in Pennsylvania.  Trombetta resigned from his post as CEO of the school in September 2013 and “has not had any affiliation with the school since,” said sitting PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden.  “The school was actually declared a victim by the prosecutors, not a party to the crime,” said Hayden, who began his post as CEO in January.  “Obviously, we're in a better place now,” Hayden continued. “We're no longer that same school in so many different ways.”  Last month, PA Cyber graduated about 1,100 students. Total enrollment is about 11,000 and climbing, Hayden said. He cited a new nepotism policy that strictly forbids the hiring of direct relatives of board members and other school officials.
Tax fraud sentencing delayed (again) for cyber school founder
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 5:54 p.m.
Sentencing for Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School former CEO and founder Nick Trombetta — convicted of siphoning $8 million from the Midland-based public school to finance his luxurious lifestyle — has again been postponed, court records show.  Trombetta, 62, of East Liverpool faces orders to pay restitution and up to five years in federal prison.  He was scheduled to be sentenced June 20 .  On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti filed a notice announcing Trombetta's sentencing has been postponed. A new hearing date has not yet been determined.  In August, Trombetta — indicted by a grand jury on 11 counts of tax fraud and conspiracy charges in 2013 — pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service from collecting income taxes.  Trombetta used money earmarked for education to stockpile retirement money and buy personal luxury goods for himself, his girlfriend and his family — including multiple homes and a twin-engine airplane, U.S. Attorney David Hickton said at the news conference following Trombetta's guilty plea.  The conspiracy involved Trombetta and several others moving about $8 million from PA Cyber to other companies created or controlled by Trombetta and filing false tax returns, prosecutors said.

Pennsylvania’s Lesson for Illinois
A bipartisan reform begins to address the state’s funding abyss.
Wall Street Journal June 13, 2017 7:00 p.m. ET
State and local governments owe at least a trillion dollars to public employee pensions. So it is welcome news that some politicians are noticing, and this week Pennsylvania took a step toward sanity in worker benefits.  On Monday Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that would enroll new state employees in “hybrid” retirement plans that feature defined-contributions from employees, much like 401(k)s offered by private businesses. The government would put up a smaller defined benefit. Employees could also choose a plan with only the 401(k), though it isn’t clear how many would. Teachers and other current workers would have the option to switch into the new plans. The legislation passed the Republican legislature by wide margins.  Pennsylvania’s pension system is among the most broke in the country, with up to $70 billion in liabilities by some estimates. The state like so many others tries to conceal the damage with dubious assumptions—predicting 7% returns that never materialize while chasing yield in risky instruments. Pennsylvania ran a pension surplus as recently as the early 2000s, but that was blown up by expanding benefits and reducing payments.

Wolf to sign law granting career-track students alternatives to Keystone exit exams
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 8:36 p.m.
High schoolers in career technical education programs are close to securing legislative authority to shirk Pennsylvania's controversial exit exam if it becomes a graduation requirement.  Starting as soon as 2019, in order to graduate high school, students statewide may have to pass the Keystone Exams, a series of tests in Algebra, literature and biology. That means the test could be a mandatory exit exam for next school year's 11th-graders.  A bill headed to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk would amend the Public School Code to make accommodations for students in career technical education, or CTE, schools when it comes to the Keystones.  House Bill 202 — introduced in December by Reps. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, and Mike Tobash, R-Pottsville — would allow students at vocationally and technically driven high schools to demonstrate competency through their grades and alternate assessments or industry-based certifications. Examples include national certification and licensing tests for nursing, auto repair and cosmetology.

Letter: Support needed for fair districts
Beaver County Times Letter by Jennifer Wood, Aliquippa Jun 13, 2017
I applaud Pa. Rep. Jim Marshall for joining Reps. Robert Matzie and Aaron Bernstine in co-sponsoring House Bill 722. This bill will establish an independent citizens commission charged with drawing congressional and legislative district boundaries in Pennsylvania.  Currently, state district lines cut through and cut off counties and municipalities, making it tough for citizens and local leaders to advocate for our interests in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. In the 2016 general election, incumbents ran unopposed in nearly half of the House and Senate races. One reason for this is that legislators draw the district maps themselves, often creating “safe” districts for incumbents. This results in some odd-looking districts that “resemble child drawings” as a recent Times story noted.  Volunteers for Fair Districts PA, a growing statewide nonpartisan citizens movement, is working hard to make sure that when districts maps are drawn after the next census, an independent citizens commission will determine district boundaries. Rep. Jim Christiana is the lone legislator representing parts of Beaver County who has not yet co-sponsored HB722. There is a companion bill in the Senate, SB22. Pa. Sens. Elder Vogel Jr. and Camera Bartlotta, whose districts include parts of Beaver County, have not yet signed on as co-sponsors.  If you live in their districts, please take just a few minutes to call or write Marshall, Matzie and Bernstine to thank them for co-sponsoring HB722. Christiana and Bartolotta and Vogel need to hear from their constituents in Beaver County that we want them to co-sponsor HB722 and SB22. To learn more about these bills and join this growing movement for fair districts, please visit fairdistrictspa.com.

Kindergarten reading levels dramatically increase in Bethlehem
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call June 12, 2017
Two years into universal full-day kindergarten in the Bethlehem Area School District, nearly 90 percent of kindergarten students are reading on grade level.  At Monday's curriculum committee meeting, the school district gave a presentation on how full-day classes and reading interventions are helping the district's youngest students.  At the beginning of this school year, 46 percent of district kindergarten students were reading on level. By the end of the year, that number shot up to 88 percent.  "I've never seen anything like this," Chief Academic Officer Jack Silva said.  By comparison, at the end of the 2014-15 school year, one year before the district had universal full-day kindergarten, just 47 percent of 5- and 6-year-olds were reading on grade level.  The numbers show the district is making gains in closing the achievement gap between its poverty-stricken and wealthy schools.

Improving graduation rates for students with disabilities
The notebook by Maura McInerney June 13, 2017 — 3:29pm
Historically, students with disabilities have struggled to graduate in the same numbers as their peers. Graduation rates for these students have improved, but wide disparities remain.  The most recent graduation rate for students with disabilities is 52.75 percent​, according​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​2015-2016​ ​Required​ ​Federal Reporting​ ​Measures​​ ​Commonwealth​ ​of​ ​Pennsylvania​​ ​report. That’s well behind the District’s five-year graduation rate of 71.63 percent and the statewide graduation rate for students with disabilities of 71.60 percent.  To address this issue, we must understand the pathways to graduation for students with disabilities, the specific barriers to success that confront these students, and how to adapt and integrate recognized strategies to improve graduation rates and lifelong success.

Philly coalition sets new goals to boost graduation rates
WHYY Newsworks BY AVI WOLFMAN-ARENT JUNE 12, 2017
More than a decade after it formed, a coalition of city agencies and nonprofits dedicated to improving high school graduation rates in Philadelphia has set new goals.  By 2020, Project U-Turn aims for 70 percent of the city's dropouts to return to school at some point — and for half of those who return to earn their high school degree. Right now, the coalition said, 54 percent of students who entered high school in 2008, but dropped out at some point, eventually returned to school. Of those who returned, only 35 percent went on to graduate.  The coalition — with members from 25 organizations and government entities, including the School District of Philadelphia — also vowed to reduce the number of students who "disconnect from high school" to 20 percent by 2020. Among students who started at a Philadelphia high school in 2008, 25 percent dropped out within four years, according to a Project U-Turn report.

N. Philly K-8 charter says school year is over early for its 450 students
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda |  martha.woodall@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 12, 2017 — 6:23 PM EDT
Last week, the Philadelphia School District’s charter office called for revoking the charter of Khepera Charter School because of concerns about its management and finances.
Now, the North Philadelphia K-8 school has declared that the academic year is over for its 450 students.   Khepera families were told over the weekend that the school would be closed Monday. And staffers were informed late Monday afternoon that students would not be returning. Wednesday was scheduled as the final day.  “It has been decided that students will not return for the remainder of the school year,” Lisa M. Bellamy, Khepera’s chief academic officer, said in an email to staff. “However, the staff is expected to return in order to close out the school year.”  Bellamy said in the email that employees were expected to work Tuesday and Wednesday. She said Khepera was seeking volunteers to assist at the eighth-grade graduation Thursday.  Khepera officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.  Khepera went to court Friday in a bid to obtain more money, saying it would not be able to complete the academic year without it.

After 4 years, Philly teachers may be near new contract
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer Updated: JUNE 12, 2017 — 4:02 PM EDT
The Philadelphia School District and its largest union appear, for the first time in more than four years, to be closing in on a new contract.  Negotiators from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers were at the table Monday, as they were over the weekend, according to officials from both sides.  PFT officials signaled to their 10,000-plus members that a contract could be imminent.  The union set a general membership meeting for contract ratification, date to be determined. Members would have access to the terms of the contract prior to the meeting and would vote via secret ballots, which would be counted by the American Arbitration Association.  “Our goal is to have a contract before the end of the school year,” said George Jackson, PFT spokesman.  “I do feel like we’re close,” Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said. “But I felt that a year ago.”  Hite said the district was “very serious about getting an agreement.”

French Creek Elementary students place 3rd in world in Odyssey of the Mind competition
By Marian Dennis, The Mercury POSTED: 06/13/17, 11:48 AM EDT | UPDATED: 8 MINS AGO
SOUTH COVENTRY >> Students from French Creek Elementary School have a lot to be proud of lately.  A team of students from the school recently participated in the Odyssey of the Mind competition along with four other teams from the Owen J. Roberts School District.
The competition, which is aimed at growing students’ problem solving abilities as well as exercising their creativity, placed those students in competition with 54 teams from the U.S. China, Poland, Singapore and Mexico. While all teams from the district placed highly in the competition, students from French Creek Elementary placed third in the world.  The competition presents students with several challenges including things like creating skits that solve various problems assigned to them, as well as challenges involving engineering and technical problems. One of the long-term problems the French Creek team worked on required them to design, build and operate an original robot that displays human characteristics and learns to do household chores by watching others, ultimately with humorous results.

“The $115.7 million spending plan is nearly $4 million higher than this year. Centennial's pension costs, 32.57 percent of employee salaries, are rising $1.8 million in 2017-18. Salaries and benefits are scheduled to increase by $1.5 million. Together, that's $3.3 million.  Other rising budget items include special education ($554,913) full-day kindergarten ($300,000) and charter school payments ($91,368).”
Centennial school directors blame state lawmakers for another tax increase
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer June 13, 2017
As it raised property taxes 3 percent in its 2017-18 budget, Centennial school directors pointed to Harrisburg as the culprit for forcing district homeowners to pay $105 more next year.  "We are the lapdogs," director Steven Adams said of the General Assembly. "It's a great system for them. They put it on us. It's a perfect system for them. They don't raise taxes and they get re-elected. ... It's a stupid system. It's a horrible system, but it's the system."  A resident with a home assessed at the district's median value of $26,400 will pay a school tax bill of $3,608. The district millage would rise from 132.687 to 136.663. A mill translates to $1 in tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.  Property owners signed up for the Homestead/Farmstead reduction will have $165 taken off their bill.

“The district’s mandated PSERS requirement has increased steadily over the past several years from 5.64 percent in 2010-11 to a projected 32.57 percent for 2017-18. Employee medical insurance costs are expected to increase by $1.14 million for next year — a jump of 16 percent — and a $300,000 increase in contracted costs to cybercharter schools also is budgeted.”
Mechanicsburg School Board finalized budget, tax hike
Phyllis Zimmerman For The Sentinel June 13, 2017
The Mechanicsburg Area School Board unanimously finalized a 2017-18 district budget that will increase real estate taxes by 2 percent while also authorizing architects to continue with designs of renovating Elmwood Elementary School into a district center for grades 4 and 5 by 2018-19.  Next year’s $69.1 million district spending plan will increase the district’s real estate tax levy from its current rate of 12.8 mills to 13.0560 mills. A property owner assessed at $175,000 — roughly the median value — would pay $2,285 annually in real estate taxes next year.  Administrators also are proposing to use $1.8 million from the district’s fund balance to balance next year’s spending plan, a planned move intended to offset the rising costs of the district’s mandated contribution to the state Public School Employee Retirement System, technology and general operations.

“Estimated charter school costs also increased to $1.85 million — up from $1,750,941 from the current school year.  Bean said he expects that number to increase to $1.9 million once more charter school student numbers are totaled by the end of the month.”
Bellefonte Area school board approves budget with tax increase
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO bmilazzo@centredaily.com June 14, 2017
Residents in the Bellefonte Area School District can expect to pay a little more in taxes next school year.  At a meeting Tuesday night, the board, in a 5-2 vote, approved the district’s 2017-18 budget of $50.08 million, which calls for a 1 percent tax increase from the current school year, but under the Act 1 index.  Board members Hope Boylston and Jon Guizar were absent. Board members Mike Danneker and Kim Hearn voted against the budget.  “I think I look back at (past board member) George Stone, and that we can always do better, and I just think that once again, like he said, ‘we can do more for our kids’,” Hearn said. “Of course I’d like to see more class existence, and be more carefully aware of how we spend.”

State College Area school board OKs budget with tax increase
Centre Daily Times BY LEON VALSECHI lvalsechi@centredaily.com June 12, 2017
The State College Area school board at its meeting on Monday approved the 2017-2018 budget.  The budget includes $150,229,781 in revenue and $152,122,249 in expenses.  The revenue reflects about a 4 percent increase from last year’s budget; the expenses increase by about 3 percent.  Homeowners in the district will have a real estate tax increase of 1.55 percent, which is the district’s smallest increase since the 2007-2008 school year. The millage is 44.15, which is an increase of .67.  The tax increase equates to an additional $49 per year for residential homeowners with an assessed property value of $72,239.

Saucon Valley schools approve first tax increase in nearly a decade
Michelle Merlin Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call June 12, 2017
The Saucon Valley School Board approved its first tax increase in nearly a decade, after eight years of keeping taxes flat.   The board reached another milestone on Tuesday after announcing that it had peacefully come to an agreement with the teachers union to extend their contract two years, marking a change from past contentious negotiations and earning applause from around the room.  Board members voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve a 2.5 percent tax increase, raising the tax from 51.74 mills to 53.03 mills. The district will still need to spend down $777,000 of its fund balance next year, marking a decrease from the $1.5 million dent in the fund balance the district made last year.  David Bonenberger, the district's business manager, cited rising PSERS, charter school and special education costs as the reason for the increase.

Penn-Trafford OKs budget, 2-mill tax hike
Trib Live PATRICK VARINE  | Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Penn-Trafford school board members Monday approved a $55.2 million budget for the 2017-18 school year with a 2-mill property tax hike.  The increase brings the district's Westmoreland millage to 82.25 mills; for the portion of the district located in Allegheny County, the total will be 16.08 mills.  The board vote was 6-1 with Phil Kochasic voting no. Board members Dallas Leonard and Bruce Newell were not present.  The board ultimately voted to lower a millage hike proposed at 2.6 mills in its preliminary 2017-18 budget, passed last month.

After 19 years, La Academia Partnership Charter School to offer first music class
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Jun 12, 2017 Updated Jun 12, 2017
In 1998, La Academia Partnership Charter School, one of Pennsylvania’s first charter schools, opened in Lancaster city.  Just before its 20-year anniversary, it’s introducing its first music course.  With support from the Lancaster nonprofit Music for Everyone, La Academia will offer a music theory class beginning in the 2017-18 school year.  “We’re really excited,” said Kristi Baker, a spokesperson for the school. “This will be the beginning of the music program. We want to build on this.”  The course, which was, in part, made possible by a $2,218 grant from Music for Everyone, will serve as an elective for students in grades 9 through 11. Students will have the option of either music theory or a STEM course, both of which are taught the whole academic year, according to La Academia instructor Edward Webb.  Webb, who earned a master’s degree in education from Arcadia University, will teach the music course, along with a new psychology course for seniors, starting in the fall.  The music class is a new endeavor for both the school and Webb, as it will be the first music course he’s taught in his 16-year teaching career. Webb, who has been at La Academia for seven years, said he is certified to teach in six subject areas — social studies, business, technology, English, music and communications.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/after-years-la-academia-partnership-charter-school-to-offer-first/article_f21c0e78-4d7f-11e7-afe3-57ac00837811.html


Here Are Some State ESSA Plans to Fix Struggling Schools
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 14, 2017 7:10 AM
By Andrew Ujifusa and Alyson Klein
The Every Student Succeeds Act is supposed to be a brave new world when it comes to school improvement. States and districts will now get to decide what to do about perennially struggling schools, and schools where certain groups of students, like English-language learners, aren't doing well.  So now that states have all this newfound freedom, what are they deciding to do with it? We looked at the school improvement portions of the 17 ESSA plans that have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval. Want to jump to details on a particular state? Click on it in the menu below:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/06/ESSA_struggling_schools_fix_state_plans.html

For-Profit Charter Schools Show Poor Academic Growth
Education Week Charters and Choice Blog By Arianna Prothero on June 12, 2017 3:51 PM
Students in charter schools that are run by for-profit companies perform markedly worse than their peers in charters managed by nonprofit groups, according to a new study.  These findings—released during the largest annual gathering of the charter school movement—could potentially drive a wedge further into a growing rift among charter school advocates over the role of for-profit companies in the sector.
What the Study Found: The study, conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, or CREDO, found that, on average, students attending nonprofit-run schools had faster academic growth than those in for-profit schools that was equal to about 23 extra days of learning in math and six extra days in reading.  Students in nonprofit charters also saw faster academic growth than their peers in traditional public schools, equal to about 11 extra days of reading and math.   CREDO's study also compared performance between students in for-profit charters and their peers in traditional public schools and found that students in for-profit charters do no better in reading, and perform worse in math.  Where all charter schools stumbled is in serving special education students. For example, in charter school networks (where a single organization holds the charter for three or more schools, according to the study), students receiving special education fell behind their peers in traditional public schools in math by the equivalent of about 86 days over the course of a year. For all other types of charters schools, the number was 108 days. 
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2017/06/for_profit_charter_schools_show_poor_academic_growth.html

CREDO Study: Charter Management Organizations 2017
Center for Research on Education Outcomes Stanford University June 2017
In 2013, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released the Charter School Growth and Replication (CGAR) study (Woodworth and Raymond 2013). The study examined the lifecycle of charter school networks from founding of the flagship school to development and eventual expansion of the network. Volume II of the CGAR study focused on the performance of charter school networks, organizations which operate at least three charter schools. This report is an update to CGAR Volume II. We examine the performance of charter networks compared to traditional public schools (TPS) and independent charter schools. A chief focus of this study is the management arrangement of the school and the impact it has on the school’s performance, as measured by student academic progress. Additional analyses explore the variation in performance across networks and performance by state.
https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CMO%20FINAL.pdf

“Some conference attendees lamented the fact that DeVos did not more specifically address concerns about quality and accountability, particularly when it comes to how the administration would ensure that taxpayer dollars for a federal private school choice program are used effectively.  "She was vague and nebulous and she kept repeating herself," says Kayla Meadows, a kindergarten teacher at River Oak, a charter school in Ukiah, California, where she's taught for 17 years. "There was no substance."  Meadows, who is working with a cohort of teachers and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform to develop a set of high-quality standards for charter schools, says her biggest qualm with DeVos and the administration is what she considers a lack of focus on quality.  "She keeps talking about giving parents more choices, but you have to have accountability," Meadows says – something she said she believes would be difficult to execute with a voucher or tax credit scholarship program that allows students to attend private schools.”
DeVos Delivers Tough Love to Charter School Advocates
The education secretary attempted to address a growing divide within the charter school community.
US News By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter | June 13, 2017, at 12:14 p.m.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday delivered a gut check to thousands of charter schools advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., reminding them that when it comes to school choice they are not the only player.  "Charters' success should be celebrated, but it's equally important not to, quote, 'become the man,' Devos said at the annual conference of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  "There is no one right way to help kids learn, and just because a school educates children differently than you might propose to does not make them the enemy," she said, making a veiled reference to the growing fracture in the school choice community largely driven by the Trump administration's education agenda, which includes both public and private school choice.  "Let's applaud and encourage others who serve students well," DeVos said. "It's a both-and situation, not an either-or."  The three-day conference in the nation's capital convened charter school advocates of all persuasions, including those who support private school choice and those who do not – two camps whose philosophical divide has recently grown in large part due to proposals in the president's budget request.
https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2017-06-13/devos-delivers-tough-love-to-charter-school-advocates

Betsy DeVos Warns Charter Schools Against Becoming 'The Man'
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 13, 2017 11:37 AM
Washington U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos challenged the charter school community, which has long been seen as a vanguard of innovation in education, not to allow itself to turn into just another entrenched bunch of paper pushers.   "Charters' success should be celebrated, but it's equally important not to (quote) 'become the man.' ...  Many who call themselves reformers have become just another breed of bureaucrats," DeVos said in a speech here Tuesday to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, the nation's biggest charter school organization. "We don't need 500-page charter school applications. That's not progress. That's fundamentally at odds with why parents demanded charters in the first place. Innovation, iteration and improvement must be a constant in our work."   That line could be seen as a veiled shot at charter proponents who have criticized the approach to charter accountabilty that organizations backed by DeVos pushed in Michigan. Supporters of DeVos' work in the Wolverine State tout what they view as a blooming, diverse charter sector that gives parents a wide array of options.  But critics say that low-standards and lack of accountability for charter operators have lead to the proliferation of low-quality charter schools in Michigan, particularly in Detroit.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/06/betsy_devos_cautions_charter_s.html

“The education department’s review found that based on computer log-in durations and offline documentation, many ECOT students failed to meet the minimum 920 hours of “learning opportunities” required by the state. ECOT reported 15,322 full-time students in the 2015-2016 school year; the education department verified 6,313, nearly 60 percent fewer.”
ECOT ordered to repay $60 million for inflating attendance
The Columbus Dispatch By Catherine Candisky  Posted Jun 12, 2017 at 1:25 PM Updated Jun 12, 2017 at 8:37 PM
Republicans and Democrats, school-choice proponents and opponents, appointees of Gov. John Kasich and those elected independently agreed Monday: Online school giant ECOT must repay $60 million in state aid for grossly inflating its attendance figures.  The 19-member state Board of Education voted 16-1 to accept the findings of a Department of Education review, recently upheld by state hearing officer Lawrence Pratt, recommending that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow give back more than half of the $108 million it received for the 2015-2016 school year. One member abstained, another was absent.  “I feel like they’ve cheated the children and the taxpayers and they should pay it back,” said Cathye Flory, a board member from Logan.  The decision is a death blow to the school, ECOT officials say, and they will have to close if forced to repay the money.
http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170612/ecot-ordered-to-repay-60-million-for-inflating-attendance


Education Activists Rally June 15 to Stop More Philly School Closings
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools Press Release:  June 13, 2017
The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS) will hold a rally in front of school district headquarters on Thursday June 15, 3:30 PM, to call attention to Superintendent William Hite’s plan to begin closing three neighborhood schools each year for the next five years, and possibly beyond.  Members of APPS, a grass-roots organization of educators, parents and community members, attend all SRC meetings, usually testifying on issues of funding and transparency.
In addition to announcing his plan at a recent SRC meeting, Hite told City Council of his intention to close schools at Council’s hearings on the school district budget last month.
“School closings are not just traumatic for students, they have a devastating effect on the surrounding community”, said Karel Kilimnik, co-founder of the Alliance, “We want to help communities understand what they can do to support their school if Dr Hite selects it for closure. Our schools need advocates as they fight for survival.”  A coalition of community groups has endorsed the action, including Parents United for Public Education and Our City, Our Schools.
Contact:  Karel Kilimnik,  215.301.3569

Principal Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017 at The Capitol in Harrisburg
PA Principals Association Website Wednesday, June 7, 2017 10:03 AM
The PA Principals Association is holding its second annual Principal Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017 at The Capitol in Harrisburg, PA. Once again, a rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at clapper@paprincipals.org before Friday, June 9, 2017.
Click here to view the Principal Advocacy Day Save The Date Flyer.

Apply Now for EPLC's 2017-2018 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2017-2018 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants. Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.  The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 14-15, 2017 and continues to graduation in June 2018.

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.

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

Save the Date: PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference October 18-20, Hershey PA


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