Monday, June 19, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 19: North Penn's PSERS costs have grown from $6.1M in 2010-11 to $39.7M next year. Statewide, districts anticipate PSERS increase of $144M this year.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 19, 2017:



Join Lancaster County school leaders at Millersville University forum on challenges to school budgets and funding; four Lancaster County school leaders to speak on school budget challenges.
Monday at 6:30 p.m. at McComsey Hall, Millersville University



Public schools can work - if funded properly
Inquirer Opinion by Harold Jackson, Inquirer Editorial Page Editor  hjackson@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 16, 2017 — 11:34 AM EDT
The story of a frustrated Philadelphia couple whose 10-year-old twin daughters were denied admission to the Masterman magnet school despite having outstanding academic records at their charter school illustrates the fears of thousands of parents who no longer think it’s possible to get a good education in traditional public schools.  They’re wrong. There are still good regular public schools, but too few. That’s a shame, because it means all the politicians in all their known habitats don’t mean it when they say they care about children. Money still speaks louder than words.  The American education system needs a massive overhaul that recognizes today’s realities. Rather than giving parents false hope that the answer is charters, which essentially replicate the same educational model — often with the same results in a more pleasant setting — we should put as much emphasis on regular public schools as fighting terrorism.  The bigger threat is a poorly educated population that doesn’t see that the rest of the world is getting smarter while it succumbs to the siren song of con artists telling them America’s greatness requires it to cling to the past. “Yes, sir, that old coal mine will be reopening any day now. You folks hang tight; the jobs are coming back. Your family is going to be just fine.”

Legislature, Wolf should act responsibly on funding for pre-k programs: Editorial
BY PENNLIVE EDITORIAL BOARD Updated on June 16, 2017 at 5:50 PMPosted on June 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM
Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Wolf administration are now less than two weeks away from the statutory deadline to pass a new state budget.  As they run a fine-toothed comb through hundreds of line items in those laborious talks that will result in a final spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, we'd ask them to keep one worthy cause at the front of their minds.  And that's state support for early childhood education, those critical programs that can have such an impact on a child's future success or failure as a student.  In his budget proposal to lawmakers in February, Wolf, a Democrat, asked for a $75 million increase to two critical programs -- Pre-K Counts and Head Start.  An alternative budget passed by the Republican-controlled House in April whittled that increase down to $25 million.   That spending plan is now before the state Senate, where the Republican chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Sen. Pat Browne, of Lehigh County, has rightfully earned a reputation as a forceful advocate for those programs.  That $75 million increase would fund pre-kindergarten seats for 8,400 additional students, according to Pre-K for Pa., an advocacy group. Growing that investment by an additional $340 million by the 2020-21 budget year would serve every child in Pennsylvania who is eligible for those programs.

Two decades of choice
Charter schools have dramatically changed the education landscape in Pennsylvania — sometimes in ways legislators didn’t anticipate
Post Gazette REPORTING Elizabeth Behrman AND Liz Navratil JUNE 18, 2017
FIRST IN A SERIES ON PENNSYLVANIA CHARTER SCHOOLS
In the mid-1990s, an idea had taken root in the minds of some Pennsylvania political leaders and wasn’t letting go.  Fresh off a failed attempt to create a statewide school vouchers program, Gov. Tom Ridge and fellow supporters of school choice turned to charter schools as a backup plan for education reform. After months of meetings and rigorous lobbying, the state Legislature approved the Pennsylvania Charter School Law in June 1997.  The legislation allowed for the creation of independently operated schools with specialized curricula and funded with public money — a change that was embraced by parents who wanted to be able to send their children somewhere other than their neighborhood school, and lawmakers who believed it could help save money and allow for sharing of innovative new methods to educate Pennsylvania’s children.
“Related to that dissatisfaction was the notion then that there might be other ways of doing things,” said Ronald Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center and a former state legislator from Wilkins who voted in favor of the law. “Charter schools presented the opportunity to try some other things and learn some things.”

Pa. charter schools mark 20 years of changing lives
Inquirer Opinion by Ana Meyers Updated: JUNE 19, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
Ana Meyers is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Exactly 20 years ago, Gov. Ridge changed lives when he signed the Pennsylvania law that created the opportunity for public charter schools to begin serving students in the Keystone State. Today more than 130,000 students are enrolled in 183 public charter schools throughout the commonwealth.  Charter schools offer a rich tapestry of options for families in search of the right fit for their child's education. Whether parents are interested in smaller class sizes, more customized learning, or a specified curriculum, charter schools provide an important option in the education landscape.  Across the commonwealth - from Pittsburgh to Scranton, Erie to Philadelphia - tens of thousands of parents are choosing charter schools as their preferred model of education. When given a choice in education, parental satisfaction increases, academic outcomes improve, and opportunities for customized learning expand. Public charter schools provide a pathway for education excellence.

HB97: Haverford school board raises voices against charter school reform plan
By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/19/17, 4:54 AM EDT
HAVERFORD >> The board of school directors recently joined Education Voters of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Education Law Center and other school districts around the state that have voiced opposition to provisions for charter school reform in House Bill 97.  School directors voted 7-1 to adopt a resolution opposing the bill, which they allege “fails to establish meaningful change” from the state’s 20-year-old Charter School Law.  Approved by the state House in April, HB 97 is currently in the Senate Education Committee where amendments are under consideration, said school director and chair of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council Larry Feinberg, the resolution’s sponsor.  The resolution states that charter schools that are “publicly funded and privately operated institutions governed by non-elected boards ...not accountable to taxpayers, yet paid for with local school district funds.”  Current Charter School Law exempts charters from “many of the state’s statutory and regulatory requirement and creates an uneven playing field in important areas, including...fiscal management, audits, conflicts of interest, public reporting,” and more, the resolution states.  Also cited are funding formulas for charters that don’t reflect actual costs, especially for special education instruction and services.

“When a student leaves the home district to attend a cyber charter, the home district must pay the charter school the full cost of educating the student, Sroka said. Money that is usually applied to everything from activities and athletics to maintaining the school district is no longer available.  “They're reaping all the benefits but not incurring any of the expense,” Sroka said of cyber charters, adding that there's little to hold these schools accountable for student performance and learning.”
Jeannette school official: Cyber charters a 'drain' on district
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES  | Sunday, June 18, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
The Jeannette City School District spent about $997,000 to send students to charter schools during the 2015-16 school year, according to Business Manager Paul Sroka.  The cost for the 2016-17 school year was about $820,000, when about 60 of the district's roughly 1,000 students, or about 6 percent, attended charter schools.  Such costs would represent about 5 percent of the district's proposed $19 million budget for the 2017-18 school year. The district does not receive reimbursement from the state to offset those costs.  Sroka said he expects even more students to forgo traditional schooling to attend cyber charter schools next year.  “It's a drain on the district,” he said. “It makes it impossible to deliver a comprehensive education because you have to cut programs, you have to cut staff at this point.”

“It is a small school made up of predominately neighborhood students, 88 percent of whom live in poverty, 17 percent of whom qualify for special-education services. And its students are thriving – 98.5 percent of the senior class graduated last year, and more than half went to college.”
What makes this high school Philly's most improved?
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 16, 2017 — 6:46 PM EDT
Paul Robeson High School was not Jahleel Johnson’s first choice.  Four years ago, the school was on the brink of closure, spared at the last minute after a passionate group of students and supporters convinced Philadelphia School District officials to give them another chance. Robeson was tiny, with barely 250 students, and hardly anyone knew where it was, tucked away at 41st and Ludlow. Kyairra Mathies had hoped her son would get into schools that had better reputations, but Jahleel’s eighth-grade year was rocky, so Robeson was it.   But then a few remarkable things happened: Robeson, which always had potential, began to make strides, important changes in climate and academics that would lead to it becoming a rising star in the Philadelphia School District.  And the school that was once the last place Jahleel ever wanted to be turned out to be the best thing for him. Robeson’s faculty encouraged him, and its principal was so devoted to Jahleel’s success that he would sit the young man down in his office and tell him to do his homework, call his mother on weekends to ask her what the school could do to help keep Jahleel on the right path. Now, Jahleel is about to graduate and headed to Penn State to study education, and Robeson has been named the most improved high school in the city.

The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet today and will consider SB756 which would eliminate the Keystone Exams.  Here’s the cosponsorship memorandum from Senators Eichelberger and Dinniman outlining the provisions of the bill.
Senate Ed Committee to consider Elimination of Keystone Exams
As Majority and Minority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee we are requesting your co-sponsorship of a bill that does the following:
First, our bill eliminates the Keystone Exams or any composite of these exams from being taken or used as a high school graduation requirement. Even the Department of Education (PDE) has stated that the "Keystone Exams are not a good predictor of college and career readiness".
Second, the bill says that in terms of federal accountability required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the curriculum aligned Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) can be used to fulfill that requirement or the SAT can be substituted by an aligned vocational test, an aligned GED test, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVB) test. We also note the need for a test for students with severe cognitive disabilities. The Keystone Exams would not be available for the purpose of accountability.
Third, any test used shall not take more than two days of instructional time and it shall be scored and returned to the school entity within 30 days.
Fourth, accountability results shall be used as part of a comprehensive plan for a multi-faceted, wholistic, and rigorous approach to determine teacher evaluation and school performance, which would need to be included in any ESSA plan.
Fifth, the bill guarantees the right of parents to be notified of their right to opt their children out of any accountability test (a right recognized in the ESSA legislation). It also requires notification of the specific basis upon which an opt-out request can be made and states the obligation of school districts to respect parental rights concerning decisions with regards to their own children. Some school districts have created road blocks to recognizing parental rights.

A 'get out of town' budget appears inevitable, lawmakers say
Trib Live by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Sunday, June 18, 2017, 2:24 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Lawmakers faced with Pennsylvania state government's biggest cash shortfall since the recession are bracing for what they call a “get-out-of-town budget.”  Put another way, there is little expectation in the Capitol of bringing long-term balance to the state's tattered finances before lawmakers depart for their traditional summer break from Harrisburg.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of the Legislature's huge Republican majorities have been absorbed with major pension and gambling legislation until recent days, virtually ensuring that a budget package will be hashed out in rushed, closed-door negotiations.  With just two weeks before the July 1 start of the 2017-18 fiscal year, ideas on how to inject more money into the state's threadbare bank account have begun flying around the Capitol in earnest. One concept raised by Senate Republicans is borrowing a one-time lump sum against cash from Pennsylvania's share of the landmark 1998 multi-state settlement with tobacco companies.  For now, top Republican lawmakers are sticking to talking publicly about what they can do to avoid a budget-balancing tax increase, while rank-and-file lawmakers worry about what kind of result will emerge from a slapdash budget.

Lancaster County Reps. Lloyd Smucker, Pat Meehan represent different GOP sides of health care debate
Lancaster Online by SAM JANESCH | Staff Writer June 18, 2017
On the signature policy issue so far in the Donald Trump era of Washington politics, Lancaster County’s two Republican congressmen strikingly disagreed.  Their party’s health care reform proposal, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker said, is “a real step in the right direction” — whereas U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan lacked “confidence that we were moving in the right direction.”  Where Smucker trusted the American Health Care Act’s efforts to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, Meehan saw the potential for that major promise to go unfulfilled.  Where Meehan raised concerns about an analysis that showed as many as 24 million people would end up uninsured, Smucker called the projection “flawed.”  The country’s health-care system needs an overhaul, one that ends with providing quality health care that is accessible and affordable.  That much they can agree on.  But now the Senate is preparing to reveal its re-worked version of the bill that narrowly passed the House last month.  And any final agreement will need to bridge some of the gap between the divided Congress, and the divided electorate its members represent.

Op-ed: Philly schools must prioritize trauma-informed learning
WHYY Newsworks COMMENTARY  BY DAUN KAUFFMAN JUNE 17, 2017 SPEAK EASY
Daun Kauffman teaches in North Philadelphia public schools and blogs at LucidWitness.com. He lives in Hunting Park where he has served the children and families for 15 years. Kauffman has an M.Ed. from Temple University and an MBA from Harvard University Graduate School of Business.
Powerful and surprisingly prevalent horrors are blocking access to education and ravaging children’s lives. Sadly, they remain the elephant in the classroom: adverse childhood experiences.  Adverse childhood experiences include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including bullying; physical and emotional neglect; a missing parent, due to separation, divorce, incarceration, or death; witnessing household substance abuse, violence, or mental illness; and witnessing environmental violence.  Developmental (or childhood) trauma after these adverse experiences often goes unidentified or misunderstood, and is often worsened within school systems. Experts call it a crisis.  Trauma during development is especially heinous. Some adults normalize the pain and fear of the injured child, thinking they’ll get over it. Actually, it’s the opposite. Young children have fewer coping mechanisms, and their immature brains are still developing. The impacts of trauma are greater on the still-developing brain.

Pa. lawmaker discusses budget, pensions, exams at Greencastle breakfast
Tioga Publishing Jun 15, 2017 Updated 9 hrs ago
GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Pennsylvania state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. started driving before dawn Thursday to reach the southeastern-most part of his district for a Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast.  Eichelberger, R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon, provided chamber members with an update on several initiatives in the state capital.

Superintendents: Pension reform good, but not enough
Bradford Era By ALEX DAVIS Era Reporter a.davis@bradfordera.com June 16, 2017
Local superintendents say the state pension reform bill signed into law earlier this week will not provide any immediate relief to school districts.  Under the changes, there is a new, full-defined contribution 401k-style plan option, and more than $10 billion dollars will be saved on Pennsylvania's unfunded pension liability and fewer dollars will go to Wall Street brokers.
“The bill is necessary, but does not help districts in the short term,” said Otto-Eldred School District Superintendent Matt Splain. “It will not change the pension costs that districts face or the under funded state system that is eating up state revenues. The poor decisions of the past will haunt us for quite some time.”  In fact, this year school districts will see the pension contribution rate jump 2.54 percent to 32.57 percent, said Smethport Area School District Superintendent David London. By 2021-22, the projected rate will be 36.4 percent, he said.  “These high contribution rates cause large budget increases in local school districts including Smethport,” London said.  London said that funding will have to be found or budget cuts will have to be made to make up for the increases.  “To make an immediate impact, the general assembly needs to pass legislation to increase the contributions of current public employees,” St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Brian Toth said. “Additionally, the general assembly needs to pass legislation to increase state revenues. Making cuts will no longer work.”  Alterations in the state retirement system had to happen, he said. But he reiterated that the financial impact won’t be felt by school districts for many years, Toth said.

“Last month, Skrocki told the finance committee that North Penn's costs to fund the Public School Employees' Retirement System have grown from $6.1 million in 2010-11 to $39.7 million next year. "That's totally mind-boggling," he said.”
North Penn passes budget with 2 percent tax increase, gets deal done with superintendent, administrators, support staff
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer June 16, 2017
The North Penn school board took care of a lot of business in its last meeting before summer, passing its 2017-18 budget with a 2 percent tax increase, and agreeing to contracts with its superintendent, director of human resources, administrators and nonunion and confidential support staff.  A new deal for teachers, which expires this month, still needs to get done.  "We've been busy, and that was evident tonight," board President Vincent Sherpinsky said after Thursday night's meeting. "We hope to get the teachers done, and have meetings scheduled."  Next year's North Penn budget of $252.2 million is 2.86 percent higher than this year's expenditures of $245.5 million. The 2 percent tax increase raises real estate taxes $71 for a resident with a home assessed at the district median of $147,965. The school tax bill would rise to $3,650.  The district's millage jumps to 24.671. A mill translates to $1 in tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.

Tax hike approved in Burgettstown Area
Observer Reporter By Gideon Bradshaw June 15, 2017
BURGETTSTOWN – Burgettstown Area School Board approved a .5-mill increase in property taxes along with the $18.9 million budget for the next school year.  “Don’t think that this is being entered into lightly,” board President Chris Kramer said at Monday’s meeting. “I think we’re all pretty well informed about what’s going on.”  Among the major drivers of expenses are contractual increases in teacher and support staff salaries, which will rise more than $360,000, and health insurance, projected to rise more than $472,000. Like its counterparts all over the state, the district faces an increase in mandatory contributions into the Public School Employees’ Retirement System from 30.03 percent this year to 32.57 percent next year. For Burgettstown, that means an additional $334,976 will go toward shoring up the struggling pension fund next year.  “The larger increases, by far, were the health care, PSERS, and staff salaries,” said Superintendent James Walsh.

School taxes likely to rise as district manages shortfall
District residents in Crawford, Venango, and Warren all set for hikes
Titusville Herald By Natalie Dodd Herald Staff Writer | 0 comments Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 5:00 am | Updated: 6:41 pm, Tue Jun 13, 2017.
As of Monday’s meeting of the Titusville Area School District board of directors, no changes were made to the 2017-18 general fund budget, which is expected to be passed at the next meeting, on June 19.  The $33,179,436 general fund budget will include a tax hike, which is set at 1.14 (2.9 percent) mills for Crawford County, 28 mills (1.7 percent) for Venango County, and 1.32 mills (2.7 percent) for Warren County residents.  A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in a property’s assessed value.   “The financing committee is recommending the millage where it was as proposed,” said business manager Shawn Sampson.  While this millage increase, should the final budget pass at the next meeting, will mean a tax increase, board member Dwight Proper pointed out that over the past six years, the millage has only gone up by 1 mil for Crawford County taxpayers.   Sampson said the goal of the tax hike is to offset a shortfall between expenditures and revenues. According to a projection displayed during the May 8 school board meeting, current revenues were projected at $31,241,996, while projected expenditures are at $32,365,690.

Lower Merion School Board approves tax hike for 2017-18
Main Line Times By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Jun 16, 2017
Lower Merion School District officials approved a tax hike this week as part of the upcoming 2017-2018 school year budget, but finding out the percentage of the hike depends on whom you ask.  Officially, from school district numbers, the tax hike in the 2017-2018 budget represents a 2.48 percent increase over last year’s budget. But critics of the district’s budgeting practice say Lower Merion is using incorrect data when estimating that percentage tax hike and the real tax increase is 4.52 percent.  So how does each side get their numbers?  Under the 2017-2018 Lower Merion School District budget that was approved by the Board of School Directors Monday night, the board approved a new tax hike increasing the millage rate from 27.3963 to 28.0740. This represents a tax increase of 2.48 percent, according to the school district. On the other side of the debate is Phil Browndeis, one of the defendants in the ongoing lawsuit against the district’s 2016-2017 budget. Browndeis said, as he spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, the percentage hike is nearly twice what the district says it is. “The actual increase is not in fact 2.48 percent, but rather 4.52 percent, thus requiring a referendum of the voters for the entire tax increase,” Browndeis said Monday.

Chichester hikes taxes, cuts 2 positions
By Loretta Rodgers, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/17/17, 4:28 AM EDT
UPPER CHICHESTER >> The Chichester School Board unanimously adopted a 2017-2018 final operating budget totaling $72,880,178, reflecting a 1 percent increase - and the controversial furloughing of a social worker and technology coach.  Millage was set at 39.8561. A homeowner with a property assessed at $175,000 can expect to pay $697.48 in real estate taxes, an annual increase of $6.91.  Business manager Anthony Testa said due to a budget shortfall, it was necessary for the district to pull $1.8 million from the reserve fund.  He added that salary and benefit costs represent 70 percent of the total budget, adding that the Pa. State Employees Retirement System (PSERS) pension costs, after state reimbursement, totals $4.8 million; an increase of about $500,000.  In addition, the cost of cyber and charter school tuition is budgeted at $1.8 million and debt financing is just below $7.5 million.

Taxes going up 3 percent in Wallingford-Swarthmore
By NEIL A. SHEEHAN, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/17/17, 4:29 AM EDT
NETHER PROVIDENCE >> That bill approved this week to reform state public employee pension plans is not going to help Wallingford-Swarthmore tax bills this year. Taxes are going up again. Pension costs were much on the minds of Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board as they formulated the final 2017-18 budget - which includes a 3 percent tax increase.  In fact, board members say the pension reform bill may result in further burdens in the short term as start-up costs are factored in.  That was part of the backdrop of information as the school board voted 7 to 0 on Monday night – with one abstention – to approve a $78.5-million spending plan that calls for property owners to pay an additional 3 percent in school taxes starting July 1.

Ahead of Monday contract vote, some PFT members see 'solid contract'
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 18, 2017 — 9:31 PM EDT
Michael Franklin and his wife were touring a prospective house when he got the email: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers had a tentative contract.  It felt like a sign as he contemplated buying his first home. Franklin, a Philadelphia School District science and math teacher who has gained national recognition for his work, has eight years of experience, but has been frozen at a fourth-year educator’s salary – $54,365 – since 2012. He doesn’t get any extra pay for having earned his master’s degree, and is earning $18,000 less than he expected to be making at this point, based on the last contract.  Franklin had to take on a second job to make ends meet.  And now, a breakthrough. The contract isn’t perfect, said Franklin, a teacher at Chester Arthur, a K-8 school, but it is significant. The deal will cost the district $395 million, hundreds of millions more than the school system has budgeted for teachers over the three-year life of the contract, and a sum that will require additional funds from the city and state or, eventually, layoffs.

Raises for Philly teachers in deal worth $395M
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: JUNE 17, 2017 — 12:14 PM EDT
City teachers, who have gone five years without a raise, would get one if they ratify the tentative agreement before them on Monday – but it could cost some of them their jobs if new money from the city and state is not forthcoming.  The pact will cost the Philadelphia School District $395 million – $245 million more than it has budgeted for – with no clear path to pay for it. A source close to the talks said it could eventually force district layoffs.  The deal between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and school system would give almost 12,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries, aides and other school workers salary increases through the life of the three-year contract, which would also restore “steps,” or pay for years of experience, and compensation for advanced degrees.  Educators would begin paying for their health insurance – most currently do not contribute toward the cost of benefits – and would abdicate the right to choose from among open jobs based on seniority.

Finally, PFT and District reach a tentative contract agreement
The ratification vote is set for Monday night.
The notebook and WHYY Newsworks by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent June 16, 2017 — 4:48pm
Philly teachers may finally be getting a raise.  After a five-year stalemate, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers announced Friday that they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.  Neither side published details of the proposed agreement, except to say that it would run through August 2020.  For the deal to become final, two things would need to happen. First, PFT membership must vote to ratify the agreement in a general meeting, which is planned for Monday at the Liacouras Center at Temple University; doors open at 4 p.m. If the pact is ratified, a majority of the five members of the School Reform Commission would have to vote to approve it.  “My top priority this school year has been to get a contract with the PFT that recognizes the hard work of teachers and school staff. I am excited to announce we have a tentative agreement that accomplishes that goal,” said Superintendent William Hite in a statement. “Teachers and school staff are at the heart of our work to create great schools close to where children live. They have supported students through the District’s difficult financial times and they are crucial to the progress we are making in schools across the city.”  SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson said in a statement: “The teachers have gone long enough without a contract, and this contract is one that benefits our teachers, our students and the entire School District of Philadelphia.”

Many alternative-school options, but where’s the map to find them?
by the Notebook June 16, 2017 — 1:45pm
With all the attention on the District’s lack of resources, the elusive teachers’ contract, and pressure to create more charters, it is easy to forget that there are, today, hundreds of teachers and more than two dozen schools offering alternatives to students who have struggled in traditional schools.  This issue of the Notebook takes a deeper look into those District schools and programs – and others run by nonprofit organizations. Project U-Turn, the collaborative managed by the Philadelphia Youth Network, includes members from the Community College of Philadelphia, Congreso, Department of Human Services, JEVS Human Services, Mayor’s Office of Education, Public Citizens for Children & Youth, School District of Philadelphia, William Penn Foundation, youth/young adult representatives, and other organizations.  Project U-Turn started 10 years ago, and during that time, the high school graduation rate in the city rose 25 percent. Now, Project U-Turn will be studying what it needs to do next in order to move the needle even more on high school graduation and post-graduation success.  Through the reporting of this issue, several challenges and opportunities for the nonprofits and the school system became clear. One of the most vexing is: How does a student who has dropped out of school figure out how to get back in?


AASA Executive Director Issues Statement On Full Funding of IDEA
Alexandria, Va. – June 15, 2017 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, a legislative proposal that would help Congress realize its commitment to investing in education for students with special needs. When passed in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), committed Congress to pay 40 percent of the additional cost associated with educating students with special needs. The closest Congress has come to this commitment is 18 percent in 2005, and its federal share is at 15 percent for the 2017-18 school year.  Led by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the original bill co-sponsors include Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) The IDEA Full Funding Act is a seven-year plan to help Congress reach its stated goal.  The chronic underfunding of IDEA by the federal government places an additional funding burden on states, local school districts and taxpayers to pay for needed services. This often means using local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall, shortchanging other school programs that students with disabilities often also benefit from. In addition to providing ‘full funding’ for students with disabilities, this bill will free up hundreds of millions of dollars at the state and local level.

“To be sure, the benefits will only appear over a period of years; state and local government in the Quaker State will continue to face brutal competition between pension costs and the costs of vital public services in the meantime. Yet analysts at the Pew Charitable Trusts praise the plan as “one of the most — if not the most — comprehensive and impactful reforms any state has implemented.” It bears repeating that this has been accomplished on a bipartisan basis, showing that the cause of problem-solving is not altogether lost in American politics. Now it remains for other states to follow Pennsylvania’s example.”
Editorial: One major state takes a smart step toward avoiding financial disaster
Washington Post By Editorial Board June 18 at 7:16 PM
THE EASIEST thing for any government to do is to give the voters what they want today, and worry about paying for it tomorrow. That basic tendency explains much of the process that landed Puerto Rico in the equivalent of bankruptcy. Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have trod a similar path of least political resistance en route to financial trouble, albeit not as dire, yet, as the mess in Puerto Rico.  And so it is heartening to see that at least one major state has decided to take a long-term approach: On Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a pension reform law that will help the state appropriately compensate its future employees while reducing risks to its taxpayers. Even better, the measure is the product of a bipartisan process that brought Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, together with the Republican-dominated state legislature. When it goes into effect 18 months from now, the law will abolish standard defined-benefit pensions for new state and public school employees (except for those on hazardous duty, such as state troopers). Those public employees will have to choose from three retirement savings options similar, in varying degrees, to the defined contribution plans common in the private sector. Among other benefits, this could make retirement savings portable for many who may only work for Pennsylvania for a few years before moving on.  Pennsylvania had already acted in 2010 to put the state’s pension funding ratio, which as of 2015 stood at an unsatisfactory 56 percent, on an upward trajectory. In combination with that past enactment, the new one, which also aims to reduce bloated investment costs, could render the state less vulnerable to unexpected costs in a downturn.

Education Dept. closes transgender student cases as it pushes to scale back civil rights investigations
Washington Post By Emma Brown June 17 
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights last week closed a long-running discrimination case involving a transgender student and withdrew its earlier findings that the girl had suffered discrimination at school, a move that comes amid the Trump administration’s push to scale back civil rights investigations in public schools.  The agency communicated its decision in a letter to lawyers representing the girl, an elementary school student in Sparta, Ohio. The letter provided no reason or legal justification for withdrawing its 2016 conclusion that the girl’s school wrongly barred her from the girls’ bathroom and failed to address harassment she endured from classmates and teachers, who repeatedly addressed her with male pronouns and the male name she was given at birth.  Candice Jackson, acting head of the civil rights office, said the department closed the case because the student has filed a legal challenge against the school district, and the matter will be settled in court.  Officials withdrew the findings of discrimination, Jackson said, because those findings were based on guidance that directed schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms matching their gender identity. The Trump administration rescinded that guidance in February.  Civil rights advocates see the closure of the Ohio case — and especially the unusual withdrawal of the federal investigators’ legal conclusion — as a troubling sign of retreat from civil rights enforcement.

One more tool to help students learn: Seattle-area districts turn to health centers
School-based health clinics will open in Renton, Vashon and Bellevue this fall, joining a nationwide trend toward bringing basic medical and mental-health care to kids where they spend most of their time.
By Claudia Rowe Seattle Times staff reporter Originally published June 7, 2017 at 4:00 am Updated June 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm
Evidence connecting students’ overall health with their academic performance has mushroomed in recent decades, such that Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman calls it one of the best-established links in all of social science.  Seattle’s school district, ahead of the curve on this issue, has for 30 years provided health services to kids in two-dozen schools. Now the success of that effort is spreading.  Next fall, Bellevue, Renton and Vashon Island each will open one school-based health center, offering an array of services from annual checkups to behavioral counseling — far more than the school nurses of old used to do.

CHARTING A NEW COURSE THE CASE FOR FREEDOM, FLEXIBILITY & OPPORTUNITY THROUGH CHARTER SCHOOLS
Center for Education Reform June 2017


21st Century Cyber Charter School to offer first annual summer camp program
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Jun 17, 2017
One of the more popular cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania is offering its first annual summer camp program this year.  The Chester County-based 21st Century Cyber Charter School will host Camp 21, a free two-day program for students entering sixth through ninth grades, featuring activities and games geared toward subjects like math, science, English and social studies.
It will be held at local parks around Downingtown, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.  Students, regardless of whether they are currently enrolled at 21st Century Cyber Charter School, may participate. Participants may bring a guest, who must be between the ages of 11 and 14.
The deadline to sign up is June 21.  Each location will host its own program. Below are the schedules.

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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