Friday, June 30, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 30: #HB97: Make sure your legislators hear your voice on the charter expansion bill today

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup June 30, 2017:


Tell Your Senator That House Bill 97 Is Not Real Charter Reform
Please take a moment this morning to contact your senators. Click here to send a letter to your senator. 
Yesterday afternoon the Senate Education Committee pushed out  House Bill 97 (Rep. Reese, R-Westmoreland), faulty charter school legislation that was approved by the House of Representatives in April. The bill was approved by the committee with a 7-5 vote.  All Democrats and Sen. Tomlinson (R-Bucks) voted against the bill. The next stop for the bill is the Senate floor. If the bill passes the Senate, it will return to the House for concurrence.
Prior to passage, the committee approved an amendment. A positive change under the amendment revises the composition of the Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to include only legislators (similar to the effective BEF and Special Education Funding Commissions) and limits the scope of the commission to funding issues only. This is the approach that PSBA has been seeking. However, among other changes the amendment also eliminates language that provides for a reduction in the calculation for funding cyber charter schools. If the provision had been adopted, school districts would have saved an estimated $27 million for school districts for 2017-18.


*The funding formula for charter school entities must be changed to reflect the actual cost needed to educate students in these alternative environments.

*The cost of special education students attending charter school entities must reflect the actual cost to instruct the students through the IEP process.

*Over-identification of special education students by charter school entities must be addressed.

*Professional educators in charter school entities must meet the same certification requirements as educators in traditional public schools.

*Charter schools must be evaluated by the same measures as traditional public schools to ensure the public can compare the effectiveness of all educational entities supported by public tax dollars.

*Public school districts must have the authority to properly oversee and evaluate charter schools.

*The Charter School Appeal Board must consist of neutral, bi-partisan members that will be objective in the hearing process.

*Billing discrepancies between school districts and charter school entities should be reconciled between the two agencies.  The process of automatic withholding of subsidies from school districts based on a charter school entity claim must cease.

*Charter school entities must display the same level of transparency with their finances that are required of traditional public school districts.

*The enrollment and selection process of charter school entity students must be transparent and free of any form of discrimination.

*More scrutiny and review must be applied to cyber charter school entities as their academic performance is significantly lower than brick-and-mortar charter schools and traditional public schools.

We need your help now to block passage of House Bill 97 in the Senate. Please take a moment to contact your senators. Click here to send a letter to your senator.  (In addition, click here for links to additional contact information for senators.)
Ask your Senator to oppose House Bill 97 because:


·         The problems with the bill far outweigh the attempts to address various areas for meaningful change. House Bill 97 falls short of the mark in too many areas to be worthy of support.  
o    The Charter School Appeal Board is expanded in a manner that favors charter schools. The current composition of the CAB is fair to both sides and is preferable compared to the proposed change.
o    The terms for the initial charter period and renewal terms are expanded in a manner that further removes oversight by school district authorizers. The bill also raises questions related to financial mismanagement and compliance with laws, audit requirements, etc. as reasons for revocation or nonrenewal. 
o    The bill includes a faulty process for a charter school to request amendments to its charter that does not follow court precedents.  Substantial changes should be handled only during the reauthorization period. 
o    House Bill 97 creates a double standard for teacher evaluation that is less than that of traditional public schools. While traditional public schools use the system developed by the state, each charter school will create its own evaluation system that is not subject to state review or approval.

HB97: Flawed charter bill moves forward
PSBA Website POSTED ON JUN 29, 2017 IN PSBA NEWS
Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed HB 97 with amendments, including narrowing the scope of the proposed Charter Commission and removing a provision that would have reduced school district payments to cyber charter schools, removing a potential $27 million savings for 2017-18. PSBA urges members to contact their senators today and let them know that HB 97 is not true charter reform.

Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators White Paper: Charter School Reform: Recommendations for Policy Makers
Dr. David Baugh Superintendent, Centennial School District Dr. Brett Gilliland Superintendent, Mount Union Area School District Mr. James Estep Superintendent, Mifflin County School District Dr. Mark DiRocco Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators June 5, 2017
Executive Summary The conversation around charter schools continues to split the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is based on the deeply flawed assumption that the same amount of money can appropriately fund two separate and distinct systems of education. The collaboration between charter schools and public education has not occurred because of the inherent competitive structure built into the legislation. Recently, the conversation has shifted somewhat to the notion of choice as a means of supporting charters. However, the underlying flaws of the charter school legislation are cause for serious concern and prompt action.

HB97: Inadequate Charter School Reform
Education Law Center Fact Sheet April 2017
 A responsible charter school law must empower local governing bodies to strategically control charter growth as a tool to increase quality options and improve our system of public education for all students. The charter school law should not force blind expansion on already burdened systems and compel the loss of neighborhood school options. HB 97 is deficient as it stands. This fact sheet focuses on the key problem areas of this proposed charter reform bill. For ELC’s full response to HB 97, see our letter to the House Education Committee sent on April 24, 2017.

Stop PA House Bill 97 TODAY
Network for Public Education  by Darcie Cimarusti June 30, 2017
Tell Your Senator That House Bill 97 Is Not Real Charter Reform. Stop and fix the bill.
This morning (Friday June 30th) the full PA Senate will vote on House Bill 97 (Rep. Reese, R-Westmoreland), which is faulty charter school legislation that was approved by the House of Representatives in April. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee by a 7-5 votePrior to passage, the committee approved an amendment. While there has been some positive changes, something bad slipped in. The amendment also eliminates language that provides for a reduction in the calculation for funding cyber charter schools. If the provision had been adopted, school districts would have saved an estimated $27 million for school districts for 2017-18. Cyber charters are bleeding our tax dollars while doing a terrible job of educating our state’s students.  SEND YOUR EMAIL RIGHT NOW BY CLICKING HERE.
Act now to block passage of House Bill 97 in the Senate. Please take a moment to contact your senators  BY SENDING YOUR EMAIL HERE AND BY CALLING THEIR OFFICE. YOU CAN FIND PHONE NUMBERS IF YOU  (click here).
Ask your Senator to oppose House Bill 97 because:Voting “yes” on House Bill 97 now shouldn’t mean “we’ll fix it later.” House Bill 97 does not address charter funding, transparency, oversight or academic performance issues in a meaningful or balanced manner. Let’s get it right before it becomes law.

HB 97 just got worse.
PFT Action Network UPDATED June 29 2017
 A bad bill got worse in the Senate Education Committee.
House Bill 97 passed the House in April, and passed 7-5 in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday evening. We are opposed to this extremely flawed attempt at "fixing" the charter school regulations.  HB 97 falls well short of addressing many of the critical academic and funding issues that govern charter schools in the Commonwealth. This bill massively expands the charter school footprint in Pennsylvania, while diminishing transparency and accountability to taxpayers. The amendment put forth by Sen. Eichelberger and adopted by the Education Committee only heightens those concerns.

HB97: 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.    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: Good news is that the proposed budget includes $100 million increase in basic education funding, $25 million increase in special ed funding and NO cut in transportation funding.  (For context’s sake, keep in mind that school districts’ share of increased pension costs alone this year is expected to exceed $140 million.)

“In addition, the Ready to Learn block grant program's funding was held at $250 million, the same funding it received this year that neither the governor or House budgets touched.   Preschool was among the areas that saw an increase in the final budget.  It inserts an additional $5 million above the $25 million that the House Republican budget had increased for educating Pennsylvania's youngsters, putting the total spend at $226.4 million. However, that $30 million is less than half the $75 million Wolf had proposed in his budget.  The agreed-to budget provides $172.3 million for the Pre-K Counts program and $54.1 million for the state supplement to Head Start.”
Pa. pols set to OK $32B budget, more money for schools, pensions, disabled
Delco Times By Marc Levy, The Associated Press POSTED: 06/29/17, 11:26 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. >> Pennsylvania lawmakers were poised to approve a $32 billion compromise budget package unveiled Thursday, the second-to-last day of state government’s fiscal year, even though they had no plan to pay for it or handle the state’s biggest cash shortfall since the recession.  The bipartisan spending plan carries hundreds of millions of dollars more for schools, pension obligations and services for the intellectually disabled, but demands belt-tightening across state government agencies and in its most expensive program, Medicaid. It also sees savings from a shrinking prisons population.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the spending plan hours after details were unveiled, with floor votes planned in both chambers Friday. Lawmakers expected to return to the Capitol next week to figure out how to raise $2 billion-plus to cover a two-year projected shortfall, with anti-tax Republican leaders looking to borrow, expand casino-style gambling offerings or sell more private-sector liquor licenses.  Democrats and some southeastern Pennsylvania Republicans are pressing for a new tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production in the nation’s No. 2 natural gas state. Lawmakers’ coming debate over the revenue will take place in the shadow of an entrenched post-recession deficit that has damaged Pennsylvania’s credit rating and left it among the lowest of states.

Senate Appropriations Committee gives first approval to 2017-18 Pennsylvania state budget
Penn Live BY CHARLES THOMPSON  cthompson@pennlive.com Posted on June 29, 2017 at 11:31 PM
In a strong bipartisan vote, the state Senate Appropriations Committee gave easy approval Thursday night to a $32 billion general fund budget for Pennsylvania's state government.
The 23-3 vote was the first formal step in a legislative itinerary aimed at getting the spending bill to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk by Friday evening, hours before the start of the 2017-18 fiscal year on July 1.  Wolf has publicly endorsed the spending plan, the result of closed-door negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers and the governor's senior staff in recent weeks. It is not a completed package, and likely will not receive the governor's signature until a trailing program of taxes and revenues to pay for it all is acted on - most likely after the 4th of July holiday.  The revenue bills may include authorization of a large bond issue against the state's ongoing payments from the 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement agreement to cover a $1 billion-plus deficit from this year, and hundreds of millions in new revenues to cover all new recurring spending above the 2016-17 levels.

15 highlights of what's in the $32 billion agreed-to state budget plan
Penn Live by Jan Murphy & Charles Thompson Updated June 30, 2017  Posted June 29, 2017
The Senate and House will vote Friday on a proposed $32 billion general fund budget for 2017-18 that Republican and Democratic leaders crafted with Gov. Tom Wolf's administration.  It includes some pleasant funding surprises for some and possibly not-so-pleasant ones for others compared to the $31.5 billion spending plan that the House passed in April. The following highlights of some of those funding changes. 

“As for the $31.9 billion spending plan, it would increase funding for K-12 education by $100 million — the amount Mr. Wolf had proposed earlier this year.
It would also increase special education by $25 million, and give an additional $30 million for early childhood education.”
Pa. Senate plans to go ahead on budget vote despite no plan to pay for it
Post Gazette by KAREN LANGLEY AND ANGELA COULOUMBIS Harrisburg Bureau 4:43 PM JUN 29, 2017
HARRISBURG — With the deadline to pass a state budget fast approaching, legislators began voting on a $31.9 billion spending plan late Thursday — even though there was no agreement on how to pay for it.  The Senate Appropriations committee approved the spending bill shortly after 10 p.m. with little debate, positioning it for floor votes in both legislative chambers by day’s end Friday.  The new fiscal year begins Saturday.  Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said early Thursday evening that House negotiators also had agreed to the plan.  “Obviously, the final word is when it gets voted,” he said, but added, “I expect it to pass overwhelmingly.”  Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, gave the spending bill his support in a statement Thursday night, calling it “a bipartisan compromise that invests more in our schools, protects seniors, creates jobs, and builds on our fight to end the heroin epidemic.”

House, Senate, Governor Agree On $31.996B Spending Plan With $2 Billion Hole To Fill
Crisci Associates Capitol Digest JUNE 30, 2017
Senate and House Republicans and Gov. Wolf have apparently agreed on a $31.996 billion General Fund budget which includes more money for schools, pension obligations and services, but demands across-the-board cuts state government agencies and in Medicaid.   But, the spending plan has a $2 billion hole to fill and there is no agreement on how to fill it.  The Senate and House will vote the General Fund budget bill today-- House Bill 218 (Saylor-R-York) and come back after July 4 to figure that out.  As a result, all the same options are still on the table-- massive state borrowing, gaming expansion, further liquor privatization and Tax Code.

Editorial: Another call to end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board June 30, 2017
THE ISSUE - The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take on a case from Wisconsin that could ultimately determine how states draw their electoral district boundaries. Pennsylvania has long been considered one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country. As The Associated Press reported June 15, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania is leading a new lawsuit seeking to throw out the map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander that favors Republicans. According to an AP analysis, the map of congressional districts drawn by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature helped the GOP win nearly three more of the state’s U.S. House seats than the party otherwise would have won in last year’s election. This is not the way it’s supposed to work.  Drawing congressional districts should not be a partisan exercise, regardless of which party is in power. And let’s face it. If given the choice, Republicans or Democrats will always welcome the opportunity to bend, twist and fold the boundaries to assure an easy victory.  For example, the 7th Congressional District was redrawn by Republicans in Harrisburg to include seven heavily Republican municipalities in eastern Lancaster County that previously were in the 16th District.  Democrats, on the other hand, are longing for the chance to create another Democratic district in the Philadelphia suburbs and gain a House seat.

School breakfasts are a smart investment in our future: Frances Wolf
PENNLIVE OP-ED By Frances Wolf Posted on June 29, 2017 at 8:30 AM
Frances Wolf is the First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Fighting hunger has long been a priority for our family.  Tom and I have seen firsthand how hunger affects families and communities and we are personally committed to ending hunger in Pennsylvania.  For years, we have worked as volunteers in our local soup kitchen, York Daily Bread, as well as others across the commonwealth - and we have supported both those in need and the organizations serving them.  That's why I have been passionately advocating for a very specific component of Tom's 2017-18 budget proposal - a $2 million investment to enhance our school breakfast program and help more students have the start to the day that they need to be successful.  It simply breaks my heart that 1 in 5 children - over 520,000 - right here in our great state of Pennsylvania don't always know where their next meal will come from. And many of them show up to school in the morning with an empty stomach, not having eaten anything since the night before.

Leaving money on the table: Pennsylvania’s resistance to taxing resource extraction
Brookings.edu by Rachel Hampton and Barry Rabe Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Editor's Note:  Rachel Hampton is a policy analyst and Barry Rabe is the director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan. An earlier version of this essay was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better poster child for the hydraulic fracturing industry than Pennsylvania. Billboards promoting natural gas litter the state’s highways. A Matt Damon film dubbed the state the Promised Land. As natural gas production has soared, the Keystone State has become an increasingly prominent energy exporter.  But the poster child of fracking has a dirty secret. It lags behind other major oil and gas producing states in tax policy. While most energy-producing states—as many as 38—tax resource extraction, Pennsylvania does not. All others, from Alaska to North Carolina, levy so-called “severance” taxes on oil, gas, or coal extraction. Revenues from such taxes allow these states to either address budget shortfalls, minimize other taxes, or invest in their future once drilling declines. Yet again, the Pennsylvania legislature is exploring the possibility of severance tax adoption, with yet another looming budget deadline and looming deficit. Governor Tom Wolf continues to push for such a step but still faces a difficult fight in Harrisburg.

“It is not a new argument in William Penn. It is indicative of the problems inherent in Pennsylvania education funding system, which continues to rely on property taxes. Bottom line is in towns with struggling economies and depressed tax bases such as William Penn, a tax hike simply does not raise the same revenue as it does in other, more well-to-do districts just a few miles away.  The result is an unven playing field, with students and families in William Penn getting a lesser education for no other reason than where they live.”
Editorial: Nothing fair about funding formula in William Penn
Delco Times KEVIN TUSTIN — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA POSTED: 06/29/17, 10:27 PM EDT | UPDATED: 12 SECS AGO
While our elected representatives in Fantasyland – otherwise known as Harrisburg – continue to dicker in their efforts to reach a budget accord, the good folks in William Penn are dealing with one more dose of reality.  Taxes are going up.  It was either that or one more in a series of draconian cuts, ones that could have seen sports, extracurricular activities and even full-day kindergarten spilled on the cutting-room floor.  In short, students and families in William Penn will continue to be penalized for no other reason than their zip code.  That’s the reality that those in Harrisburg don’t seem to understand, otherwise how could they allow this situation to fester year after year?  This week the William Penn School Board approved a $93.8 million budget that includes a nearly 3 percent tax hike. Yes, property owners once again will be forced to reach deeper into their pockets. They are not happy about it. Some pushed the board to bite the bullet and make the difficult cuts needed to avert an increase in taxes. The board decided to go another route.  Doing otherwise would have put the district’s award-winning track and field team, marching band and speech and debate team in jeopardy. Just yesterday, Penn Wood senior Dennis Manyeah was named the All-Delco boys track athlete of the year. He follows in the illustrious footsteps of Penn Wood greats such as Olympic champion Leroy Burrell. Who wants to cut that?

Reading School District to appeal ruling restoring I-LEAD's charter
Reading Eagle By Lea Skene Thursday June 29, 2017 12:01 AM
READING, PA The Reading School Board voted 5-4 Wednesday to appeal a recent decision by the state Charter School Appeal Board that allowed I-LEAD Charter School to remain open. Earlier this month the appeal board - a panel of seven with one vacancy, chaired by state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera - overturned the city school board's 2016 decision to revoke the charter of I-LEAD, a school for Reading children in grades nine through 12.  Immediately after the ruling, district officials said they would wait for the appeal board to release its written opinion on the case before determining whether to appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court. The opinion had not been released when the board voted Wednesday to go ahead with the appeal.

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.   “Things sometimes don’t match up,” said Ms. Trubiani, an alumna of the school district, who also serves as its public relations director.

Education update: Charter school issues, gun-toting teachers
DEBRA ERDLEY  | Thursday, June 29, 2017, 11:33 a.m.
Capitol watchers tell us change is brewing in Harrisburg as lawmakers weigh measures affecting K-12 schools across the state.  Although the Legislature still hasn't passed a budget, state Rep. James Roebuck, D-Philadelphia and minority chair of the House Education Committee, is predicting revisions to Pennsylvania's 20-year-old charter school act could pass in the rush to Friday's budget deadline and he's not happy with it.  Once again, lawmakers are weighing changes in funding, approval processes and performance measures for these independent schools that have become the bane of the public school districts that must fund them when students opt out of their home districts and into charter schools.  PennLive's Jan Murphy tells us a House charter school bill that was amended in the Senate is expected to go back for a full vote today, and if passed, could head back to the House. That's assuming the Senate can agree on funding measures that seem to be the nexus of disagreements there.

More than 800 teachers take part in third annual summer literacy institute
"People underestimate how complicated it is" to teach children how to read, a District official said. Yet it is a crucial job.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa June 29, 2017 — 8:00am
For about an hour Wednesday morning, Ricki Straff and about 20 of her fellow teachers went to Hawaii.  Well, not exactly. They were in Classroom A125 at Fels High School in the Northeast, attending the District’s third annual Early Literacy Summer Institute. And the leaders of a session on “Writing Objectives and Lesson Planning Using the Curriculum Engine” thought it needed something to spruce up what sounded like a dry and technical exercise.   So there were beach balls and paper leis, bells and recorded hula music.   “Well, it’s summer, and we’re in a vacation mindset,” explained Brenee’ Waters, who led the session with Ginger Smith. “And we wanted people to be more receptive to what we’re telling them.”   That’s because the mission of the summer institute is serious – teaching young children to read fluently by the end of 3rd grade, a benchmark that predicts with sobering accuracy a child’s future life chances. For instance, students who miss that milestone are four times more likely to drop out of high school, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Waters and Smith are school-based literacy coaches, and the “students” were all kindergarten through 3rd-grade teachers.

“Mandated costs drive the increases, including special education, adjustment to curriculum to meet state standards and — still a significant factor — the hike in pensions and benefits. The district is still working within existing contracts which have a relatively minor addition in expenses.  In somewhat of a rare show of public support, Maris Grove resident Walt Copper had kudos for the board.
“The administration and school board are doing a fine job of explaining (the budget) as they’ve come to Maris Grove to talk with us. I’m impressed with what you’ve done this year. What really gets you are the damned unfunded mandates,” said Copper.”
Garnet Valley school taxes to rise 2.4 percent
By Susan L. Serbin, Times Correspondent POSTED: 06/29/17, 10:23 PM EDT
CONCORD >> The Garnet Valley School Board approved the 2017-18 final general fund budget with very slight changes from the proposed version passed in May. The total budget has a small rise to $103,795,307 representing a $3 million (3 percent) increase in expenditures over the current year. However, the real estate tax remains at a 2.4 percent increase.  The millage rate for Chester Heights and Concord is 31.75 mills. Bethel’s rate is 32.1059 mills including an additional .3559 mills for participation in Delaware County Community College. A property assessed at $100,000 in Chester Heights or Concord would incur tax of $3,175.00, a $74.37 increase over the current year. A property assessed at $100,000 in Bethel would incur tax of $3,210.59, a $75.64 increase. Residents approved for the homestead exclusion will have a $218.35 tax credit.  The final budget increases are under the district’s Act I Index of 2.5 percent, which complies with a board resolution in January not to exceed the index by way of taking allowable exceptions.  In his review of the final budget, Christopher Wilson, business administrator, stressed the nondiscretionary costs. Salaries and benefits are about 61 percent of the overall budget. The pension fund alone is 15 percent, and continuing to rise as per the state’s mandated schedule. The revenue side is overwhelmingly local real estate tax at $83 million or 81 percent.

“Mr. Zenone said the biggest dollar increase in the 2017-2018 school year budget is in money paid to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) pension fund.  Steel Valley paid around $3.6 million into the fund during the 2016-2017 school year, and will pay about $4.2 million into the pension system in 201-2018, he said.”
Steel Valley school board passes budget, raises taxes
Post Gazette by ANNE CLOONAN 11:07 PM JUN 29, 2017
Steel Valley school board Thursday night passed a final, $34.8 million expense budget for the 2017-2018 school year with a school tax increase of .7484 mills.  Projected general fund revenues for the coming school year are $32,458,243, versus total expenses of $34,898,944.  District business manager John Zenone said the budget originally included a $4.8 million deficit but said district officials brought it down to $2.4 million. The $2,440,701 deficit will be covered with money from the district’s general fund balance.

Penn Hills, Moon Area, West Mifflin, and Peters raising taxes in 2017-18
Post Gazette 12:00 AM JUN 30, 2017
School districts around the region are adopting budgets for 2017-18. Here are some of the latest to approve spending plans for next year.


With 3 moves, Supreme Court gives new hope to advocates of public funding of religious schools
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss June 29 at 11:53 AM 
The Supreme Court this week made three decisions that have advocates of public funding of religious schools more hopeful than they have been in years about the future of school vouchers — and critics ranging from concerned to near-apoplectic.  The court did not make any determinative ruling on whether it would embrace the notion of public funding for religious education — which is now banned by the constitutions of a majority of the states — but it made clear it is not opposed to the use of some public money going to religious institutions for certain reasons, and it suggested that going further is not out of the realm of possibility.

The Health 202: McConnell's trying to put the frogs back in the wheelbarrow on health care
Washington Post By Paige Winfield Cunningham June 29 at 9:55 AM 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to finalize a new version of the Republican health-care bill before the July 4th recess, but just what will sway both moderate and conservative hold outs remains unclear. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Out front, the Senate health-care bill is currently stalled. But GOP leaders are working frantically behind the scenes on revisions that could open the door to 50 votes they need to pass the measure next month.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is aiming to ship an updated version of his Obamacare overhaul to the Congressional Budget Office as early as tomorrow. He’s working on a tight timeline – the CBO needs a week or two to evaluate a revised measure, potentially allowing Republicans a handful of legislative days at the end of July to get it passed before August recess starts.  Among the changes being seriously contemplated are more funding to combat opioid abuse -- a key ask of Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) -- and expanded use of tax-free health savings accounts. The bill will certainly need components that appeal to the nine or so senators currently refusing to support it: Moderates want to see fewer Medicaid cuts while conservatives are insisting the bill roll back more of Obamacare’s insurance regulations.

Online Classes for K-12 Schools: What You Need to Know
Education Week By Benjamin Herold June 12, 2017
Millions of K-12 students now spend time taking online classes.
But what those experiences look like, the reasons such courses are offered, and the entities that provide them all vary tremendously.  And despite the rapid proliferation of online courses, it’s still hard to pin down how many students take part in different types of online-learning options, let alone how well they are doing.  So, what do policymakers, administrators, educators, parents, and students need to know?  What follows is an overview of the types of supplemental online learning you can now see in most schools and states, as well as a breakdown of what we know about how many students are taking advantage of such opportunities, and how well they are doing.  To keep things manageable, we’re not talking about students who attend school online full time (although you can certainly check out Education Week’s extensive coverage of the cyber charter sector.) Nor do we include here all the students in traditional classrooms who go online as part of individual lessons and school activities.


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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