Monday, June 26, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 26: PA Legislature’s Revenue Status Quo: Let the School Boards Raise Taxes

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 26, 2017:

Contact your legislators today and urge them to support a $100 million increase in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) subsidy and a $25 million increase for special education.  Show your legislators the consequences of proposed $50M transportation cuts

Click here to find your members of the Senate and House. When you find your legislators, click on their names for phone numbers and other contact information.

PSBA estimates that 164 school districts will receive less money, even with the proposed $125 million subsidy increases for 2017-18, if the General Assembly cuts transportation funding. 

The chart shows how much money each district will receive if the $100 million increase in the BEF and the $25 million increase is enacted, along with how much money each district will lose with a $50 million decrease for transportation. The final column shows the BEF and special education funding increase less the transportation decrease. (Please remember that the chart is an estimate that utilizes the best data available to calculate the funds.)

Most school districts raising taxes, reducing staff to meet rising costs
By Dawn Goodman For the Observer-Reporter June 26, 2017
Tax increases, furloughs and not replacing retiring employees are three ways area school districts are addressing 2017-18 budget shortfalls that are primarily happening because of increased pension costs and changes to state funding.  Although Gov. Tom Wolf and House Republicans proposed a $100 million increase in the state’s 2017-18 budget for basic education funding, they proposed cuts to other school programs, such as a cut of $50 million to school transportation, according to the Campaign for Fair Education funding. Pension costs are projected to rise $140 million, requiring districts to find big chunks of money to make required contributions.  The top three actions school administrators plan to take in the 2017-18 school year as a result of budget funding issues are taking money from the fund balance, raising local property taxes and reducing staffing, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s most recent state of education report.  The report states 74.7 percent statewide planned to draw from fund balance, 72.9 percent expected to raise local property taxes and 47.6 percent planned to reduce staff/number of positions.  At McGuffey School District, the school board voted to eliminate nine faculty positions, two of them part-time, and three support staff members to help balance a $31.6 million budget that also required a .35-mill tax increase.  Monessen School District is also in financial straits and looking at layoffs.

Editorial: Don’t cut key education funding to level playing field
Delco Times Editorial POSTED: 06/24/17, 11:06 PM EDT | UPDATED: 5 SECS AGO
It’s the last week of June. Do you know where your state budget is?
Here’s a better question: Do you know where the $100 million in additional funding proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf is? That money was meant to level what has been a lopsided playing field when it comes to education funding in Pennsylvania, with poor districts getting the short end of the stick. It was meant to put some teeth into the Fair Funding Formula adopted by the Legislature last year. In effect, it was the governor asking the Legislature to put its money where its mouth was. The study that suggested the Fair Funding Formula concluded what many had already believed: Too many children in Pennsylvania are offered an inferior education for no other reason than their zip code. They live in less well-to-do school districts, with battered economies and depleted tax bases that make it very difficult to raise additional revenue the way that more well-to-do districts do it – by simply raising property taxes.  Now that $100 million outlay is apparently in jeopardy. So much so that a group of educators called a press conference earlier this week to warn that the state may be in danger of failing to live up to the promises of the Fair Funding Formula. Again.

“While Wolf has proposed increasing the spending in the classroom, he has proposed a $50 million cut in the $550 million in state aid to help pay for busing. That could be a major concern in rural school districts where busing is a major cost, Callahan said.  In addition to the basic education boost, Wolf has proposed a $25 million increase in state support for special education costs.  Even so, an analysis by the school board group found that the transportation cuts will be so deep in 164, mostly rural, school districts, they will outweigh the gains from the governor’s proposal.  Schools are being squeezed by costs they can’t control, most notably pension costs, he said.  The $100 million boost Wolf has proposed won’t even offset the $140 million increase in employer costs for the retirement system this year, he said.  Over the past five years, school districts’ share of employer costs for the retirement system have increased 337 percent, he said.
“This $100 million is the bare-bones necessity” for local schools, Callahan said.”
Some fear schools will be losers as state strains to balance budget
Sharon Herald By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent June 23, 2017
HARRISBURG – Education advocates on Thursday said they are worried that as state lawmakers strain to come up with a balanced budget, they will balance the plan by short-changing public schools.  The issue looms large because the proposed increase actually just serves to offset increased pension costs. And in many rural school districts, even without factoring in pension costs, a cut in busing aid proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf will outweigh his proposed boost in classroom spending, according to an analysis provided by the Pennsylvania School Board Association.  According to the analysis by the Pennsylvania School Board Association:
• Grove City Area School District would gain $55,574 from the proposed funding boost, but would end up with a net loss of $4,698 after the busing funding cut.
• Reynolds School District would gain $10,344, but would end up with a net loss of $44,218.
• Lakeview School District would gain $31,093, but would end up with a net loss of $31,439.
• Commodore Perry School District would gain $27,457, but would end up with a net loss of $13,235.
Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a $100 million increase in state funding for basic education. With that increase, state spending on classroom instruction will be just shy of $6 billion. A plan passed in the state House in April kept the governor’s proposed increase in place.  Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said she is unaware of any serious discussion about eliminating the boost for schools in a spending plan currently under development by legislative leaders.  Wolf, in a statement released Monday, reiterated that he expects any budget that lands on his desk “should protect” Wolf’s “proposed investments in our schools.”  Joan Benso, chairwoman of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, said advocates’ concerns are fueled by “chatter” around the Capitol.  John Callahan, assistant executive director of public policy for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, added that their fears are aggravated by the fact that the state’s fiscal shape has only gotten worse since the House passed its budget. Tax revenue has been failing to meet expectations this spring, meaning balancing the budget has only gotten tougher, he said.  The basic education funding boost isn’t the only ball in the air though.

Campaign for Fair Education Funding insists upon full $100M Basic Education Budget increase in State budget
PSBA Website June 22, 2017
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding assembled in the Capitol rotunda on Thursday to underscore the importance of a $100 million increase in basic education funding. Campaign members stood together to tell legislators that a funding increase is truly critical for students.
“Both the state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf and the version passed by the Pennsylvania House included a $100 million increase in the line item for basic education,” said Joan Benso, President and CEO of the PA Partnerships for Children and co-chair of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. “This level must be maintained in whatever final version becomes law.”  The group also urged that the increase not be diluted by cuts to other funding streams for public schools, such as school transportation.  “The proposed $100 million increase will not even keep pace with schools’ mandated expenditures over which they have no control,” said John Callahan, Assistant Executive Director for Public Policy for the PA School Boards Association (PSBA). “Anything less than $100 million will force many districts to make deeper budget cuts, including the elimination of programs and staff.”  Even with the governor’s proposed increase, Pennsylvania’s state share of public school funding remains one of the lowest in the country. Local districts are left to fund more and more of the bill for education, and many communities have reached their local tax capacity.

Cigarettes, gambling and jobs: What you need to know about Pa.'s budget deadline talks
Penn Live Updated June 25, 2017  Posted June 25, 2017
Get ready for Pa. Budget Grind, '17
OK Pennsylvania. You did your part to pay for prisons, state universities, a safety net for the poor, that state trooper who just clocked your speed on the interstate.  Now, it's up to your elected representatives to decide how to spend all that largesse, re: your tax dollars. And in some cases, raise some more.  If all goes well, we are one week and $2.2 billion away from a new budget deal for fiscal 2017-18, which starts on July 1.  That means lots of wheeling and dealing ahead. So, if you care about school funding, the spread of legalized gambling, quality of life issues for the poor, or just the general level of state spending, this would be a good week to pay attention.  Or maybe even to register your opinion with a state Rep., Senator, or the governor's office. You can rest assured that regiments of professional lobbyists will.

Lawmakers eye gambling revenue, borrowing to balance budget
GoErie By Nico Salvatori  Posted Jun 25, 2017 at 2:01 AM
State legislators will spend the week trying to figure out how they will raise new revenue and close a $1.5 billion deficit before the start of the new fiscal year.  Pennsylvania lawmakers have roughly a week to agree on a state budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which starts Saturday, and so far no consensus on how to do that is in sight.  That is not unusual for the Pennsylvania legislature, but this year lawmakers are grappling with the state’s biggest cash shortfall since the 2008 recession.  House and Senate Republican majority leaders were expected to meet over the weekend for budget talks before the full legislature reconvenes Monday.  “We are scheduled to be in session all week and probably up until we have something in place,” state Rep. Pat Harkins said recently. “I’m looking forward to a very busy and productive week.”  Harkins, of Erie, D-1st Dist., said a slew of proposals are on the table to try to raise more than $2 billion in new revenue that would balance a proposed spending plan and close the deficit. They include expanding gambling in the state, cutting costs and borrowing against future state revenue.  The extent to which gambling should be expanded has already been a point of contention between the House and Senate. Video gambling in thousands of bars, truck stops and elsewhere passed the House earlier this month with bipartisan support, and House Republican leaders have brought it to budget negotiations.  But the Senate has not shown that it would support such a large gambling expansion. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County, on Wednesday said such a move could be bigger than Pennsylvania’s 2004 legalization of up to 14 commercial casinos, and he was “a little nervous about the size and scope” of it.

 “I think the law is not going to go away and that brick-and-mortar charter schools are going to remain part of the public charter school menu,” said Ronald Cowell, president of the Education Policy and Leadership Center and a former state representative who voted in favor of the Pennsylvania Charter School Law in 1997. “What that looks like in 500 different districts is going to vary immensely. I think the biggest barrier to greater cooperation between school districts and charter schools — particularly charter schools located within their jurisdiction — is how we pay for charter schools.”
Clairton, like many Pa. school districts, struggles with charter payments
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN AND LIZ NAVRATIL Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12:00 AM JUN 25, 2017
Sometimes, Alexis Trubiani will take a drive to see for herself whether a student’s listed address is actually an occupied residence.  The Clairton City School District only has to pay a charter school for a student who lives within its borders, but a charter school doesn’t have to immediately notify the district if the student moves to another area. It can take months to sort out the confusion and get the money back if an error isn’t corrected immediately, so Ms. Trubiani, the district’s student services liaison, prefers to be proactive.  She has been tasked with tracking the district’s charter school payments for the last five years, filling a role the district created specifically for that reason. During her first two years on the job, she said she found enough money in over-payments to charter schools to pay her salary twice over. 

Guest Column: Pa. takes giant step in fixing public pension crisis
Delco Times Opinion By Jake Corman and Pat Browne, Times Guest Columnists POSTED: 06/25/17, 9:12 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
State Sen. Jake Corman, R-34, is the majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate. Sen. Pat Browne, R-16, is chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee.
The commonwealth faces a number of significant challenges, but none are as serious as the public employee pension crisis. Pension liabilities have reached a staggering $80 billion and continue to grow with each passing day.  The effects of this crisis have been felt for nearly a decade. Lawmakers have faced massive budget deficits nearly every year since 2008. These fiscal difficulties have prevented us from investing in tax cuts for hardworking families or contributing more money to areas of state government that could benefit from additional funding, including education.  Money that otherwise could have been used in the classroom has been consistently diverted to meet rising pension obligations. The proposed 2017-18 state budget includes $100 million in new money toward education; the increase in the pension payment for school districts is $144 million. The state’s contributions to school district pensions increased from $290 million to a whopping $2.1 billion in the last decade – a 618 percent increase.  The road to addressing this problem has been long and difficult. However, the General Assembly finally took historic action last week to restructure the state’s two public employee pension systems. The resulting legislation is the most comprehensive transfer of risk away from taxpayers in the country.

AP analysis shows how gerrymandering benefited GOP in 2016
Inquirer by DAVID A. LIEB, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 25, 2017 — 2:03 AM EDT
The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump's favor.  Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.  The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It's designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

 “Limiting enrollment to boys and requiring them to study Latin are critical parts of Boys’ Latin. Hardy said a single-gender environment frees students from having to worry about what the other gender thinks. “That does mean something for a lot of kids,” he said.”
David Hardy retires from Boys' Latin with his vision going strong
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer  @marwooda | Updated: JUNE 24, 2017 — 11:32 AM EDT
David Hardy had dreamed of opening a charter school for boys in Philadelphia to ensure more minority males made it college.   Modeled after the famed Boston Latin School, the charter would offer a rigorous, college-prep education and require students to complete four years of Latin. Hardy fulfilled his vision.  A decade after Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School opened in Cobbs Creek, Hardy, 65, is retiring as the school’s founding CEO. He presided over his final graduation earlier this month.  “We are way beyond what I dreamed,” Hardy said.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Medicaid could be scaled back to the tune of $800 billion over 10 years if the House bill becomes law. (No estimate yet for the Senate version.)   That's important because Medicaid helps school districts cover the cost of services to eligible kids, including students in special education. (Think speech therapy, occupational therapy, even devices like wheelchairs.) In fact, AASA, the School Superintendents' Association, estimates that school districts get about $4 billion a year through Medicaid. (That's not chump change. In fact it's about a third of federal special education state grants, and roughly the size of the Obama administration's Race to the Top program.)”
GOP Health Care Proposals: What Educators Should Know
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 22, 2017 1:36 PM
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are in the midst of trying to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as "Obamacare"—with big implications for the nation's schools when it come to special education funding, teacher benefits, and more. And Thursday, after weeks of work behind closed doors, the U.S. Senate released its version of legislation to replace the ACA. The bill, which lawmakers could vote on as soon as early next week, may eventually be merged with a bill that passed the House narrowly back in May, with only Republican support. That legislation is called the American Health Care Act or "Trumpcare" to its detractors.  So just how would the Senate bill—the "Better Care Reconciliation Act"—impact schools? How is it different from the ACA and the House bill in ways that might matter to educators? Advocates—and senators—were still combing through a 142-page Senate draft for details Thursday so stay tuned.   But, in the meantime, check out a quick list of things to watch for in the debate over a new health care law:

“State Sen. Daylin Leach also weighed on the Medicaid cuts in with a statement:
“To deny health care to families and sick people is morally obscene. But to do that to give tax cuts to Americans earning more than $250,000 per year is almost beyond human comprehension. I doubt cancer patients who won’t be able to afford chemotherapy will be comforted to know that Donald Trump is getting a tax cut. We are all in this together – why is that so hard for the Republicans to understand?”
Toomey Led the Push for the Senate Bill’s Deep Medicaid Cuts
Toomey defended the cuts, saying they were “necessary to make [Medicaid] a sustainable program.”
Philadelphia Magazine BY CLAIRE SASKO  |  JUNE 22, 2017 AT 5:19 PM
Senate Republicans unveiled their version of a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act today—and behind that legislation is Pennsylvania’s own Sen. Pat Toomey.  The bill includes cuts to Medicaid that are more severe than the health care legislation passed by House Republicans last month. Compared to the ACA, the House bill would leave 5 million more people who rely on Medicaid uninsured next year, according to the Congressional Budget OfficeAs the chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, Toomey helped spearhead the bill’s drafting process and the push for deep Medicaid cuts, which Democrats and some Republicans fear will force states to either eliminate coverage for many needy patients or assume a much more sizable chunk of the cost.  Toomey defended the bill in an interview with Bloomberg today, calling the Medicaid cuts “necessary to make [Medicaid] a sustainable program.” He said the bill had “gotten lots of outside input” during the draft process—but it was drafted without a single public hearing.  Here’s how the bill would work: Under current law, Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement program, meaning the government is required to match state expenditures for the costs of covered services to those deemed eligible (primarily low-income and disabled people). The Senate legislation would replace that program with a system of capped federal payments that would drastically reduce federal spending over time.  That means states would be forced to decide whether to scale back on coverage or raise a significant amount of funding, likely through taxes or budget cuts, to make up the difference.

Toomey: Senate bill fixes Obamacare failures and preserves safety net
Inquirer Opinion by Pat Toomey Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 10:58 AM EDT
Pat Toomey is a Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
The single most politically litigated topic in the United States in a generation has been Obamacare. In election after election, including two of my own in 2010 and 2016, the American people repeatedly put into office men and women who promised them relief from this law. The reason is simple: The foundation of Obamacare, a dramatically enhanced federal role in health insurance, has failed to deliver on the promises of its architects.  Millions, who liked their plans and their doctors, couldn’t keep them. Increasingly, parts of the country have no Obamacare-compliant plans for sale.  Costs have skyrocketed. In Pennsylvania, premiums are up 120 percent since 2013. Competition is almost nonexistent; 40 percent of our residents can choose from only one insurance provider on the exchange.  Coverage is far below the forecasts touted by the law’s advocates. The Congressional Budget Office’s initial prediction for participation in the exchange was off by over half for this year—a difference of 13 million people. These dismal results, accompanied by almost $2 trillion in new federal spending and $1 trillion in new taxes, are set to continue and grow worse unless Congress takes action.  Republicans have begun the process to roll back this misguided experiment, and the first step is to address the most immediate challenges presented by Obamacare’s collapse.

Casey urges action against GOP health-care plan
Inquirer by Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 4:13 PM EDT
HARRISBURG – At a morning rally in the state Capitol, Sen. Bob Casey urged voters to help him and other Democrats defeat the Republican Senate plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. “In the next couple of days, into the very last hour, please keep advocating,” Casey told several dozen people gathered in the Rotunda. “Please keep writing and marching and calling, and going on social media, and calling senators in other states as well as Pennsylvania. Keep going, keep pushing, because we can defeat this bill if we keep working together.”  He spoke a day after Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited proposal to replace Obamacare, a bill their leaders hope to bring to a vote next week. With Republicans clinging to a two-seat majority in the chamber and Democrats unified against the plan, every vote will count.

Republicans are out of ideas on healthcare reform: John L. Micek
Penn Live BY JOHN L. MICEK Updated on June 23, 2017 at 7:00 AM Posted on June 22, 2017 at 3:44 PM
It's time to own it, Republicans: You've had seven years to come up with a credible alternative to Obamacare. And when your clutch moment came, you choked.  Again.  The House's first crack at a repeal-and-replace bill was so bad that Speaker Paul Ryan had to yank it or risk a humiliating defeat. The second was slightly less awful, but still sufficiently offensive as to be declared dead-on-arrival in the Senate.  Now, after days of closed-door meetings where the very sharpest minds in Washington met to hammer out an alternative, we get a legless version of the mean-spirited Obamacare repeal bill the House passed.  How bad is it? So bad that liberals and conservatives each found reasons not to like it.

Proposal would lower wages for Erie schools construction
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted at 2:00 AM June 26, 2017
Roae wants to exempt school district from prevailing wage law; Erie High expansion would be affected.
An area lawmaker wants to exempt the Erie School District from paying the equivalent of union-scale wages on construction projects.  The proposal comes as the district prepares to rebuild the north wing of Erie High School, which was heavily damaged in an accidental fire on May 26. An exemption, if approved, would be unlikely to affect that project. But an exemption would reduce how much the district would pay in construction wages if it follows through with a plan to renovate Erie High and other schools and build a magnet school wing at Erie High, all at a cost of $67 million.  State Rep. Brad Roae, of East Mead Township, R-6th Dist., is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the state’s prevailing wage law from applying to construction projects in the nine Pennsylvania school districts that are in financial recovery or financial watch, as is the Erie School District. Roae’s House Bill 1479 is headed to the full state House for a vote, his office said this past week.

Dallastown district raises taxes to limit
York Dispatch by Junior Gonzalez , 505-5439/@JuniorG_YDPublished 9:01 a.m. ET June 23, 2017 | Updated 14 hours ago
The Dallastown Area school board approved a final 2017-18 budget that includes the highest tax increase possible under a cap set by the state. The board voted 5-3 on June 15 to adopt the $104.3 million budget that will hike property taxes by 3.2 percent. The increase will raise the millage rate from 22.93 mills to 23.66 mills, adding about $110 in taxes annually for a home assessed at $150,510 — the average assessment in the district. The budget includes several position changes, including shifting some full-time positions to part time. Several paraprofessional positions were either reduced or eliminated, saving the district approximately $148,000, according to a list of budget highlights. A $72,000 deficit was covered by the school’s fund balance.
The district maintains a healthy unassigned fund balance, projecting $8.3 million to be in its coffers by the July 1 start of fiscal year 2018. That figure represents 8 percent of its total budgeted expenditures.

“PSERS (Public School Employee Retirement System) continues to drive expenditure increases with a hike of 10.4 percent, costing the district almost $500,000 more than the previous year. The district has strategically using a portion of the committed fund balance for this purpose.”
Final Springfield budget hikes taxes 2.5 percent
Delco Times By Susan L. Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/23/17, 9:33 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO
SPRINGFIELD >> The school board unanimously approved the 2017-18 General Fund Final Budget of $83.2 million. The tax increase is at the allowable index of 2.5 percent, which was a reduction from the 2.97 percent increase projected in February.  Executive Director Don Mooney said there were no changes from the proposed budget passed in May. The district could not make any alterations since the state budget, which could have signaled differences in subsidies, has not passed. Mooney said he’d been in touch with state Seb. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, but nothing firm was known. Mooney added “next week could be very busy in Harrisburg” if the budget could be approved by the end of June.  The district’s budget is balanced at about $3.3 million more than 2016-17. It will be supported by a real estate tax increase of 2.5 percent to a total of 32.207 mills, less than a 1 mill increase from the current year. Property with the median value of $146,820 will have taxes of $4,729, an increase of $126.

Why it costs extra to be poor for Philly schools
Inquirer by Joseph N. DiStefano, Staff Writer  @PhillyJoeD | Updated: JUNE 23, 2017 — 3:29 PM EDT
Money: The worse you need it, the more it costs.  The Philadelphia School District pays a lot more interest when it borrows money than wealthier and more-solvent suburban districts do. At current prices, “Philly pays a penalty” of 1 percentage point above what top-rated suburban districts like Lower Merion have to pay to persuade bondholders to lend it money for building projects and other expenses, says Eric Kazatsky, municipal credit strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, a Princeton bond firm associated with Bloomberg LP.  With $1.4 billion in fixed-rate debt financing school repairs and other long-term projects, Philadelphia pays nearly 2.4 percent on its most recent major bond issue, compared with a little more than 1.3 percent for Lower Merion. Counting both recent bond sales and older bonds that might be refunded at cheaper rates, the higher price costs city taxpayers more than $14 million a year, compared with what they’d pay if Philadelphia could borrow at Lower Merion rates. And that’s not counting the spreads on $1.4 billion in floating-rate debt, which is tougher to calculate.

Teachers’ Contract Could Mean 3,800 Layoffs or 16 Percent Property Tax Hike
There’s major concern as to how the district will afford a contract it hasn’t budgeted for.
Philadelphia Magazine BY CLAIRE SASKO  |  JUNE 22, 2017 AT 9:06 AM
The School Reform Commission voted earlier this week to approve a contract between the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The deal, which will cost $395 billion over five years, ends a tense four-year stalemate between the teachers’ union and the district. For the first time in five years, teachers will receive raises and, in some cases, retroactive pay. The contract will last through August of 2020. Teachers and city officials who have long awaited an end to the standoff praise the contract. But there’s major uncertainty as to how the district will afford a deal it simply hasn’t budgeted for. According to, the recent deal accounts for $245 million more than is budgeted by the district, which already faces an increasingly intimidating deficit. With the contract, the projected deficit reportedly balloons from $700 million to almost $1 billion over five years. The Notebook reports that SRC member Bill Green said the district will likely fund the contract through one of two options: either 3,800 teachers layoffs by September of 2019 or an increase in city property taxes. District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson said that if the city were to finance the contract and balance the district’s deficit on its own, the increase in property taxes would be about 16 percent.

Ranking Lehigh Valley schools' SAT scores, from worst to best
By Sara K. Satullo | For Updated June 26, 2017 Posted June 26, 2017
Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for any college-bound high school junior and senior.
The standardized test causes plenty of anxiety for students and their parents as it can play a major role in the college admissions process.   The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released the 2016 SAT scores for more than 650 Pennsylvania public high schools.
We took a look at how Lehigh Valley public high school students fared on the test and ranked them.

Senate Leaders Try to Appease Members as Support for Health Bill Slips
New York Times By ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLANJUNE 25, 2017
WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill as opposition continued to build inside and outside Congress, and as several Republican senators questioned whether it would be approved this week.  President Trump expressed confidence that the bill to repeal the guts of the Affordable Care Act would pass.  “Health care is a very, very tough thing to get,” Mr. Trump said in an interview shown Sunday on Fox News. “But I think we’re going to get it. We don’t have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.”  With Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, Senate Republicans must find the votes from within. They can afford to lose only two votes, but five Republican senators have announced that they cannot support the health care bill as drafted, and others have expressed concerns.

CHART: Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Health Care Bill
NPR Heard on All Things Considered June 22, 20173:59 PM ET
Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.  The Senate proposal is broadly similar to the bill passed by House Republicans last month, with a few notable differences. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been criticized for drafting the bill in secret with just a dozen Republican Senate colleagues, says the proposal — which he calls a discussion draft — will stabilize insurance markets, strengthen Medicaid and cut costs to consumers.  "We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare's mandates. And policies contained in the discussion draft will repeal the individual mandates so Americans are no longer forced to buy insurance they don't need or can't afford," McConnell said.

“In between meetings, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, predicted dire consequences in next year's midterm elections should his party fail to deliver on its repeated promises. "If we don't get health care, none of us are coming back," he said in a brief interview. "We said for seven years you're gonna repeal Obamacare. It's nowhere near repealed."
Koch urgency: Conservative network fears closing window
Inquirer by STEVE PEOPLES, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 26, 2017 — 3:00 AM EDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The urgency was easy to find inside the private receptions and closed-door briefings at the Koch brothers' donor retreat in Colorado Springs, where the billionaire conservatives and their chief lieutenants warned this weekend of a rapidly shrinking window to push their agenda through Congress. No agenda items mattered more to the conservative Koch network than the GOP's promise to overhaul the nation's tax code and repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law. At the moment, however, both are bogged down by GOP infighting that jeopardizes their fate. "There is urgency," said Tim Phillips, who leads the network's political arm, Americans for Prosperity. "We believe we have a window of about 12 months to get as much of it accomplished as possible before the 2018 elections grind policy to a halt." The window for action may be even smaller, some Koch allies warned at a weekend donor retreat that drew roughly 400 participants to the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The price for admission for most was a pledge to give at least $100,000 this year to the Kochs' broad policy and political network. There were also at least 18 elected officials on hand. Some hosted private policy discussions with donors while others simply mingled.

“This post, written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, details issues on which many charter school supporters don’t want to focus. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has chronicled problems with standardized-test based school reform and the school choice movement on this blog for years.”
Problems with charter schools that you won’t hear Betsy DeVos talk about
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 22 
President Trump has proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding to expand charter schools, and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has made clear that her major priority is expanding school choice, including charters. But one thing missing from their agenda is anything that seeks to hold charter schools and for-profit charter operators accountable for how they spend money and educate children and their level of transparency to the public.
Asked at a hearing earlier this year whether she was “going to have accountability standards” in any new school choice program, DeVos responded that states should decide “what kind of flexibility they are going to allow.”  Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated, sometimes by for-profit companies, and have been proliferating for more than 25 years, with thousands of them enrolling as much as 6 percent of America’s schoolchildren around the country.  Supporters of charter schools say they give parents an alternative to failing traditional public schools. Critics say they take vital resources away from traditional public schools and that while some charters are well-run and successful, many are poorly operated. In some cases, “poorly operated” is an understatement. Some states have scandal-ridden charter sectors, though the depths of the problems were hardly front and center at the annual charter conference in Washington earlier this month.

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

Registration now open for the  67th Annual PASCD Conference  Nov. 12-13 Harrisburg: Sparking Innovation: Personalized Learning, STEM, 4C's
This year's conference will begin on Sunday, November 12th and end on Monday, November 13th. There will also be a free pre-conference on Saturday, November 11th.  You can register for this year's conference online with a credit card payment or have an invoice sent to you.  Click here to register for the conference.

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