Thursday, June 29, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 29: #HB97: Overhaul of PA charter school law on front burner, again

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 29, 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.)



Here are some notes from the Senate Education Committee’s consideration yesterday of HB97, the charter expansion bill:

Amendment to eliminate school bus requirement of those school districts that do not provide bus service to their students - failed.

Amendment to ensure schools know what school students are attending - failed

Amendment to adjust teacher certification compliment at charter schools to 97%- failed

Amendment to ensure that all teachers use the same teacher evaluation tool in all public schools.   - failed

Amendment to open charter management companies to audit - failed.

Amendment that would maintain the makeup of the Charter Appeal Board in its current form, eliminating the proposal to add charter seats  - failed

HB97: Overhaul of Pa.'s charter school law on the front burner, again
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY  jmurphy@pennlive.com Posted on June 28, 2017 at 8:58 PM
Charter school reform legislation has become the perennial issue that always gets raised around budget time. This year is no different.  A House-passed bill to modernize the 20-year-old law that created these independent public schools was brought up for a vote in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday at the urging of Senate GOP leaders.  The bill seeks to address some of the concerns that school districts as well as the charter school community have raised over the years including ones that center around funding, the charter approval process, ethics, and academic performance measures.  However, the committee amended it and voted 7-5 to send it to the full Senate for consideration. A Senate vote on it could happen before the end of the week and then it would have to go back to the House for concurrence. Its fate in the House is uncertain given some of the changes the Senate made.
Among the changes the committee made were ones that narrowed the scope of a commission that the House bill formed to look at charter issues to focusing solely on their funding. Another killed a provision that would have reduced school districts payments to cyber charter schools, saving districts a combined $27 million for at least the 2017-18 school year.
Committee Chairman John Eichelberger, R-Blair County, who offered the amendment, said the reduction in payments to cyber charters "shouldn't have been in there to start with" and preferred to leave it to the funding commission to recommend any new funding changes.
The argument behind the reduced payment is a general belief by school district advocates that it costs less to educate students through an online school than one that has a brick-and-mortar facility. It was among the provisions in the bill that  helped it win passage in the House in April.
But Eichelberger said, "A large part of what this bill is going to do is create a study commission and they are going to look at what's appropriate for cyber charters." 
Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny County, said the Eichelberger amendment could win bi-partisan support if it kept the $27 million savings for school districts in it but the removal of that provision was "a bit of a game-changer."  He along with other Democrats on the committee and Sen. Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson, R-Bucks County, cast the dissenting votes

New report on Pa. charter schools calls for reform, opposes House GOP bill
Leading legislator concerned bill could be rushed through with budget
Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr. Website    June 28, 2017 | 10:56 AM
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said a major education bill could pass in a rush around Friday's state budget deadline. So he's issuing a new report on charter schools in Pennsylvania that calls for strong reforms and explains why a House-passed Republican bill is mostly the opposite of reform.  Roebuck's latest report, his fourth on the topic, also comes as Pennsylvania's charter school law turned 20 years old this month.
"Unfortunately, the House Republican charter school bill, H.B. 97, is the equivalent of taking a leaky roof and drilling more holes in it. We need to fix the problems with Pennsylvania's outdated charter school law, not create more. Not all changes are 'reform,'" Roebuck said.
The report is available online at https://is.gd/2017CharterReport. One highlight is an update on the performance of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, including:
·         For 2015-16, based on a scale of 100, the average School Performance Profile, or SPP, score for traditional public schools was 70.3; for charter schools, 58.4; and for cyber charter schools, 50.9.
·         As was the case in 2012-13 and 2013-14, charter schools, particularly cyber charter schools, still performed academically worse than other traditional public schools. For the 2015-16 school year, 54 percent of traditional public schools had SPP scores at or above 70, while only 24 percent of brick-and-mortar charter schools had SPP scores at or above 70 in 2015-16.
·         Since the enactment of the charter school law in 1997, 38 charter and cyber charter schools have closed – with two more in process in Philadelphia -- or about 18 percent of all the charter and cyber charter schools opened in Pennsylvania.

Blogger note: One of the amendments defeated yesterday would have opened the books of charter management companies to audit.  Vahan and Danielle Gureghian are the principals at Charter School Management Company which is under contract to manage the state’s largest brick and mortar charter, Chester Community Charter School.  They have also been prodigious donors to the GOP.  Under existing charter school law, PA taxpayers know virtually nothing about how tens of millions of tax dollars are spent.  It appears that total lack of transparency will continue.
Priciest Palm Beach house listing drops $5 million to $64.9 million
Even with a new $5 million price cut, a beachfront house at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd. remains the priciest property for sale in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Its new price is $64.9 million.
By Darrell Hofheinz – Palm Beach Daily News Real Estate Writer Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017
End-of-the-season price drops aren’t uncommon in Palm Beach real estate. But when the price is slashed by $5 million and the mansion is new and on the ocean, it still draws attention.  For two years, the never-lived-in house at 1071 North Ocean Blvd. has been the priciest house in Palm Beach’s multiple listing service — and it just saw its price tag drop from $69.9 million to $64.9 million, according to an online search today.  That price is nearly $20 million less than the one it carried when it entered the market in March 2015.
The French Chateau-inspired house — with a bowling alley among its features — was first listed for sale while it was still in construction. It underwent subsequent price reductions after failing to attract a buyer. With its stylized H-shape, the house occupies a 2-acre double lot with 242 feet.
Even with the price cut, the eight-bedroom, 35,993-square-foot house still leads the entries in the Palm Beach Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, the search showed. It is also the most-expensive MLS-listed property in Palm Beach County.  Broker Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate, meanwhile, has represented the house on North Ocean Boulevard since it entered the market. His clients are greater Philadelphia-based owners Vahan and Danielle Gureghian, who originally planned the mansion as a custom home for themselves.

Reprise June 2009: Charter school appeals to block release of records
The Chester Community Charter School has filed a court appeal to a recent Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ruling that gave The Inquirer access to a wide range of financial records from the management company that operates the school.  The Chester Community Charter School has filed a court appeal to a recent Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ruling that gave The Inquirer access to a wide range of financial records from the management company that operates the school.  The Delaware County school, the state's largest charter, and Charter School Management Inc., a private, for-profit management company, have repeatedly denied requests by the newspaper for details about how millions of dollars in public money were spent and how much the company and its owner, Vahan H. Gureghian, were making.Because Charter School Management Inc. is a private business that hires all school employees and manages the school's finances, it has been able to keep many aspects of its financial operations secret, in contrast to most charters, which have to disclose more information in nonprofit reports. 'Trade secret'  Randi J. Vladimer, an attorney representing the charter school, said in the appeal, filed Monday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, that the management company's records were not covered by the Right to Know Law because it was a private business. She also argued that the Office of Open Records made a technical error in the timing of its decision that invalidated it. Further, she said the records were a "trade secret or confidential information" that could hurt the management company's competitive position if disclosed.

SB383: Arming school employees: Senator says 'it's all about our kids' and keeping them safe
The Pennsylvania Senate voted 28-22 to pass a bill that would allow school districts to have policies that allow trained school personnel to carry firearms at school.
Penn Live BY JAN MURPHY  jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated on June 28, 2017 at 8:05 PM Posted on June 28, 2017 at 7:57 PM
Calling it a response to the times and out of concern for school safety, a majority of state senators on Wednesday approved legislation that would give school districts the option of developing a policy to allow trained school personnel to carry firearms on school premises. The measure, approved by a 28-22 vote, now goes to the House for consideration, which is not expected to consider it until after the summer break.  The bill, sponsored by Sen. Don White, drew a lengthy, passionate debate over whether allowing school personnel to have a concealed weapon in school would make schools more safe or more dangerous.  But in White's opinion after seeing the crime scene of the 2014 mass stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, he became convinced that his legislation is necessary.

SB383: Pennsylvania Senate advances bill to let teachers bring guns to school
Trib Live by NATASHA LINDSTROM  | Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 5:27 p.m.
Despite assurances from Gov. Tom Wolf that he would use his veto power and opposition from school safety experts and Pennsylvania's largest teachers union, the state Senate green-lighted Wednesday a proposal to let teachers bring their guns to school.  In a 28-22 vote, the GOP-controlled Senate approved Senate Bill 383 , which would allow school boards to authorize teachers and other non-police school employees to carry firearms on school property.  The proposal drew fierce opposition from education advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers who contend that expanding the number of guns in schools threatens to do more harm than good.  The bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, championed the measure as a way to provide an extra tool for cash-strapped schools that can't afford to hire more school police or resource officers. He stressed it was a “may” bill — meaning districts won't be forced to do it — and characterized the proposed legislation as an example of “local control at its best.” “Certainly, we can pass the bill and none of the school districts in the commonwealth will implement it, and to me, that's OK,” White told fellow lawmakers before Wednesday's vote on the Senate floor.

SB383 Roll Call Vote June 28, 2017

SB383: Most Bucks County educators oppose school gun legislation
Intelligencer By Chris English, staff writer June 28, 2017
Reached before a vote on legislation to allow certain school district personnel to carry guns on school property, most local educators and state legislators contacted by this news organization said they were opposed to anyone but law enforcement officials carrying guns inside schools. "I'm a gun owner and NRA (National Rifle Association) member but I'm certainly not a fan of this," Council Rock teachers union President Bill Gerhauser said of Senate Bill 383, which would allow school boards to set up policies allowing certain personnel to carry guns, provided they had licenses and received the required training.  "In Council Rock, we've had local resource officers (township police officers) stationed at both our high schools for years," he continued. "They are the ones carrying guns and that's the way it should be. To have it any other way carries the potential for a lot more harm than good."  Lucy Walter, a teacher at Pennsbury High School and vice president and spokeswoman for that school district's teachers union, agreed with her counterpart in Council Rock, Gerhauser, that the legislation is a bad idea. "If you're going to have teachers or administrators roaming the hallways with firearms, in an emergency situation when they are not trained to respond to emergencies, it could take a horrific situation and make it worse," Walter said. "We have trained professionals who can get to our buildings in a matter of seconds. We feel that education should be left in the hands of educators, and our protection left in the hands of those trained to do that."

HB1213: Pa. school districts worry bill puts millions of dollars in jeopardy
BY SARA K. SATULLO  ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com, For lehighvalleylive.com Updated on June 29, 2017 at 6:34 AM Posted on June 29, 2017 at 6:31 AM
On Wednesday, the state House passed an amended version of a bill aimed at curtailing the ability of local taxing bodies to appeal under-assessed properties.  The original version of the bill had Pennsylvania school leaders worried they stood to lose millions of dollars, causing the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to come out against it.   The amendment brought forward by Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery, means that the restrictions would only apply to homes and farms, preserving local government's ability to file reverse tax appeals against large commercial properties. 

Budget Storm Day 4 - Unveiling Of Senate Republican Budget?  
Crisci Associates Thursday PA Capitol Digest News Clips – JUNE 29, 2017
Senate Appropriations has scheduled an off the floor meeting today on House Bill 218 (Saylor-R-York) General Fund, House Bill 59 (Moul-R- Adams), House Bill 508 (Cox-R-Berks) Human Services Code, House Bill 97 (Reese-R- Somerset) Public School Code,  House Bill 118 (Kaufer-R-Luzerne) Administrative Code and the remaining nonpreferred appropriations bills--Senate Bills 326 (Penn State), 327 (Pitt), 328 (Temple), 329 (Lincoln University).

Pa. Capitol's 'B' word for solving budget woes: Borrowing
Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis & Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAUS Updated: JUNE 28, 2017 — 7:05 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — With two days until the deadline to pass a state budget, Gov. Wolf  signaled on Wednesday that he could be willing to borrow more than $1 billion to help balance the state’s books.  Speaking to reporters after a bill-signing outside the Capitol, Wolf characterized a portion of the state’s steep cash shortfall as “a onetime gap.” He said he was open to borrowing as long as the GOP-controlled legislature also comes up with ways to raise new dollars to prevent future deficits.  When asked how much that onetime gap was, the Democratic governor said it was between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.  “For that one time, I’m comfortable,” Wolf added when asked what he would be comfortable borrowing, although he avoided a firm dollar amount.  Wolf’s comments were the first signs that budget negotiators are seriously considering a significant loan to solve the state’s $1.5 billion shortfall in this fiscal year.

Pa. state budget may get done this week; tax and revenue package may need extra innings
Penn Live BY CHARLES THOMPSON  cthompson@pennlive.com Updated on June 29, 2017 at 1:55 AM Posted on June 28, 2017 at 9:57 PM
Gov. Tom Wolf and top legislative leaders voiced optimism Wednesday that a roughly $32 billion budget setting out spending levels for Pennsylvania state government will be completed by the end of the current budget year on Friday.  But the tax and revenue package needed to pay for it? That's another matter that may need overtime.  "Clearly we're not going to have the revenue package completed by Friday. I feel fairly comfortable saying that," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County.  That sets up the potential where all sides will need to keep working through the 10-day window Wolf has to act on the spending bill to find the necessary taxes, fees and, this year, loan proceeds to make it all balance.  They are struggling to close a $2.2 billion gap consisting of a current-year deficit estimated at $1.5 billion, plus about $700 million in new money needed to cover new spending for 2017-18.

Breaking down the budget: the political path to PA's structural deficit
Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 28, 2017 4:02 AM
 (Harrisburg) -- State lawmakers have made no secret of the fact that next fiscal year's state budget, which is due Friday, will be a hard one to enact.  The commonwealth's contending with a roughly $3 billion structural deficit, and its reserves are tapped out. It's also facing skyrocketing pension and human services costs, and for the last year, it's been relying on a line of credit from the Pennsylvania Treasury to pay off immediate expenses.  So how did we get here? Many of these fiscal issues can be traced back to the 2008 housing market crash.  The governor at the time was Ed Rendell, a two-term Philadelphia Democrat. In his first budget address during the Great Recession, in February 2009, Rendell acknowledged the gravity of the situation.  "The FY 2009-2010 budget," he told the General Assembly, "presents challenges the likes of which Pennsylvania and the nation have not seen since the Great Depression."
Those challenges lived up to expectations.

Children will suffer the most from health-care cuts
Inquirer Opinion by Donna Cooper Updated: JUNE 27, 2017 — 9:23 AM EDT
Donna Cooper is the executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.
It’s hard to pick and choose the most cold-hearted element in President Trump’s budget. But one stands out in its urgency and scale. The cornerstone piece of the president’s massive agenda to transfer wealth from the middle-class families to those who live in gated communities is careening toward passage with the unveiling of the Senate’s version of its bill to repeal Obamacare. The frenzied news coverage about the House and Senate efforts to roll back access to health care has yet to shine an intense enough spotlight on the most heart-wrenching fact that children will bear the brunt of this cut more than any other Americans. Both bills slash hundreds of billions from the federal Medicaid program, putting the health of more than two million children in Pennsylvania and New Jersey at risk. Across the nation, Medicaid insures four in 10 of all children and three-quarters of the poorest children.

At summer school, teachers learn best methods to increase literacy
Inquirer by Adia H. Robinson, STAFF WRITER Updated: JUNE 27, 2017 — 7:38 PM EDT
Stacy Dougherty stood before her class on Tuesday and asked if anyone knew the meaning of “to interrupt.” Then, she began reading aloud from David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken, a book about a young chicken that keeps interrupting her father as he tries to read her bedtime stories. “So the chicken has interrupted all of the father’s stories. What’s going to happen next?” Dougherty asked.  Dougherty, a kindergarten teacher at Clara Barton Elementary in Feltonville, was addressing a room full of her peers at Fels High School as part of the district’s 2017 Early Literacy Summer Institute, where teachers this week are learning the best methods to get more 8-year-olds reading on grade level by 2020. Currently, about 30 percent of 8-year-olds are reading on level.  Emphasis on literacy is important because “by the end of third grade, [students are] at the point at which they need the foundation to master the more complex curriculum in fourth grade,” said Diane Castelbuono, the Philadelphia School District’s deputy chief of early childhood education.  Donna Frisby-Greenwood, president and CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, which helps fund the institute, agreed, saying students not reading on grade level by age 8 are more likely to fall behind and drop out.

Lloyd Smucker targets skilled-worker shortage with bill to improve career and technical education
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer June 29, 2017
A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker and aimed at strengthening career and technical education is on its way to the Senate.  Passed by the House last week, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act updates the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 1984, which provided federal support to state and local vocational programs.  “I think it’s such an important issue,” Smucker said. “I understand the need to match potential employees with the jobs that are available, and to also prepare them for those jobs.”  The bill, Smucker said, eases burdensome state and local requirements that end up restricting students who seek in-demand, high-paying vocational careers. In addition, it increases accountability to ensure CTE programs are performing at an optimal level. One of the nation’s top trade schools is here in Lancaster County, according to Forbes Magazine. It also encourages employers to work with schools to ensure they are equipping students with the skills to match available jobs — of which there are many, Smucker said.

“The budget includes an increase in retirement contributions of about $345,000, an increase in medical insurance of about $308,500, a charter school increase of about $42,000 and an increase of $250,000 for required services for special needs students.”
Penns Valley Area school board approves final 2017-18 budget with no tax increase
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO bmilazzo@centredaily.com June 28, 2017
In a 6-3 vote Wednesday night, the Penns Valley Area school board adopted a final general fund budget for the 2017-18 school year that would come with no tax increase from the current year. The $26,751,238 budget for next school year is a 2.43 percent increase, or $635,386 more, from 2016-17.  District business manager Lynn Naugle said the median homeowner living in the district can expect to pay about $2,133 in school taxes annually — the same as the current school year. The district millage rate is 46.69.  The decision came after the board originally failed to approve a budget recommended by district administrators that called for a 2 percent tax increase, which Naugle said would keep district revenue and expenditures equal.  With a zero percent tax increase, the district, instead, would gain at least a $260,000 deficit that could be paid off by a fund balance.

P-O Area school taxes to decrease for 2017-18 school year
Centre Daily Times BY BRITNEY MILAZZO bmilazzo@centredaily.com June 28, 2017
Residents in the Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District will pay less in school taxes next school year.  At a meeting Tuesday night, the Philipsburg-Osceola Area school board unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget that calls for the tax decrease.  Director of Finance Mike Conte said home assessment values in the district increased, allowing for the school property taxes to decrease.  According to a document from the district, Centre County millage rates for the 2017-18 school year are 51.97, compared to 52.08 for the 2016-17 school year. That means Centre County homeowners who live in the P-O area, with a home value of $100,000 or assessment of $50,000, would pay about $2,598 in taxes next school year, a decrease of $6.

“William Penn, like most other districts in the state, are left to cover rising expenditures like charter and private school costs, state and federal mandates, retirement contributions and other areas without seeing much of a bump in funding outside of their own tax base. The district has long outsourced many of its services including transportation and food services over the years to save money.”
Taxes go up but sports, activities are saved in William Penn budget
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin, ktustin@21st-centurymedia.com@KevinTustin on Twitter POSTED: 06/28/17, 8:32 PM EDT | UPDATED: 8 SECS AGO
LANSDOWNE >> The William Penn School Board was confronted with two options when adopting its $93.8 million budget on Monday evening: Raise taxes to keep full-day kindergarten, sports and extracurricular activities in the schools, or keep burdened taxpayers happy with a lower tax increase that would, in turn, cut those programs.  Ultimately, the board voted to adopt its budget 8-1 with a 2.9 percent tax increase and most directors wanting to keep the aforementioned programs like the award-winning track and field team, marching band and speech and debate team intact. Solicitor David Conn reminded the board that it was only voting on how much to raise taxes, considering the money will be allocated as need be. Robert Wright was the sole dissenter on the budget.  The cash-strapped district has no fund balance to use to supplement the budget and was originally looking at a $3 million deficit in a $95.5 million spending plan. Added revenue from the tax increase will bring in an estimated $1.2 million from an increased millage rate of 45.01.

Spring-Ford School District officials refuse salary raises until teacher contract settles
By Eric Devlin, The Mercury POSTED: 06/28/17, 5:32 PM EDT | UPDATED: 9 HRS AGO
ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford Area School District’s two top administrators say they won’t accept a pay raise until teachers get a new contract.  That was the word from Superintendent David Goodin and Assistant Superintendent Allyn Roche during Monday night’s school board meeting. Meanwhile the Spring-Ford Education Association teachers union submitted its first official contract proposal to the district at a recent bargaining session, which the district’s chief negotiator said if approved would be “the most lucrative teachers contract settlement in the region.” Talks between the two sides resume July 10.  Goodin thanked the school board, administration and faculty Monday for helping him and Roche achieve the 2016-17 district goals. “There is no motion on the agenda for our pay increase as is customary,” he said. “Dr. Roche and I will forgo our pay increases until the teachers contract is settled.”

A Tiny Tax Hike Approved in Pottsgrove
Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The Pottsgrove School Board adopted a $66 million budget for the coming school year Tuesday night that will include a tax hike of less than half a percent.  In fact, the tax hike will be .39 percent, which will translate into an $18 tax increase for a home assessed at $120,000, the district average.  Board Vice President Al Leach cast the only vote against the budget. He argued that there were other options which would allow the district to close the $150,000 gap between revenues and expenses.   He said Boyertown, Pottstown, Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford had all drawn heavily on reserve funds to close their budget gaps

“Major cost drivers include a $1.5 million total increase in pension costs (PSERS), $945,000 for wage increases, and a 10 percent hike in medical/prescription premiums.”
Haverford hikes takes 2.5 percent in new schools budget
Delco Times By Lois Puglionesi, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/28/17, 8:34 PM
HAVERFORD >> School directors voted unanimously at a recent meeting to approve a $117.6 million final budget for 2017-18, identical to the proposed final budget adopted in May.  Reviewed monthly since January, the budget includes a 2.5 percent increase in the real estate tax rate, from 30.2964 to 31.0538 mills, which translates to an additional $125 on a $165,605 residential property, the average assessment.  The increase complies with this year’s Act 1 Index and does not require exceptions. School director Phil Hopkins noted that it’s the lowest increase in years, and the first time the district has stayed at or below the index.  In light of significant hikes in pension and medical costs, “That’s a signature achievement,” Hopkins said.  Board President Denis Gray further noted that not one program had been cut.  The tax increase will raise $2.26 million additional local taxes, for a total $95.1 million, which comprises about 81 percent of revenues.  State funds, at $19.8 million, provide about 18 percent, while federal funds amount to 1 percent.

Education update: virtual schools
Trib Live by DEBRA ERDLEY  | Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 11:45 a.m.
VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: A new study that examined online schools in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington and Idaho found that virtual schools there had a higher student-teacher ratio than traditional K-12 public schools and that students “under performed compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. The 58 page report out of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute cautioned against unfettered expansion of such schools and recommended stricter oversight and further research.

Virtual Schools in the US: Case Studies of Policy, Performance, & Research Evidence June 2017
Michigan Virtaul Learning Institute June 2017 Written By: Michael K. Barbour, Touro University, California Gary Miron, Western Michigan University Luis Huerta, Teachers College, Columbia University

Online school asks Ohio court to block $60M state clawback
Inquirer by KANTELE FRANKO, The Associated Press Updated: JUNE 28, 2017 — 11:34 AM EDT
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - One of the nation's largest online charter schools on Wednesday asked the Ohio Supreme Court to block the state's efforts to recoup $60 million from the school. It's the latest round in a multi-pronged legal fight by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow against the state, stemming from how attendance was tracked to determine school funding. The e-school of some 15,000 students contends officials unfairly changed that. The state determined that ECOT didn't have documentation of student logins to justify more than half of the nearly $109 million it got for the 2015-16 school year, and the State Board of Education voted to pursue repayment of that portion.


Inside The NAACP’s Fight To Stop Betsy DeVos From Expanding Charter Schools
The nation’s oldest civil rights organization is gearing up for a bigger battle with education reformers.
Huffington Post by By Rebecca Klein June 28, 2017
President Donald Trump may call education the “civil rights issue of our time,” but just weeks before he was elected, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization strongly rejected the very type of schools he loves to champion.  In October, the NAACP voted on a controversial resolution calling for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools, which exist in 43 states. Over six decades after the organization fought to eliminate school segregation through the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, leaders said charter schools were perpetuating the very same segregation they fought so hard to stop. Not only that, but charter schools also divert resources away from traditional public school systems.  Charter school activists opposed the move. So did some of the very people the NAACP seeks to serve, like the hundreds of thousands of black families that choose charter schools for their children every year.  The controversial stance threw the nation’s oldest civil rights organization into the spotlight during a time when they were fighting for relevancy. In the months since, a task force of a dozen NAACP leaders has traveled the country, listening to both charter school advocates and opponents, parents and teachers, about what steps the organization should take next.  Next month the NAACP will release a report detailing what the task force found. HuffPost, through conversations with several task force leaders, received a glimpse into what these findings might look like.

Trump Ed. Dept. Gives States, Districts Extra Time on ESSA Financial Transparency Requirement
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on June 29, 2017 6:25 AM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team are giving states and districts an extra year to comply with new financial transparency requirements in the Every Student Succeeds that are aimed at shining a light on how much schools spend on each student. And at least one key civil rights group is unhappy about the delay.  ESSA calls for states to report per-pupil expenditures for all their schools on school report cards for the first time beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The requirement was intended in part to help local policymakers—and the public—figure out if there are significant spending disparities between schools that serve high percentages of poor kids and other schools, and whether schools that lag behind in student achievement are getting as much money as more successful schools. When ESSA passed, civil rights advocates were excited about the new transparency around per-pupil spending. But school superintendents and state leaders warned that providing that sort of detailed data on such a tight timeline could be a tough lift. The Education Department is giving states until the 2018-19 school year to begin putting the per-pupil expenditure information on their report cards. 


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.
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/PASCD-Conference-Registration-is-Now-Open.html?soid=1101415141682&aid=5F-ceLtbZDs


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