Thursday, July 13, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 13: How Much Does Your District Receive in Medicaid Reimbursement for Special Ed Services?

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 13, 2017:

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

Pennsylvania charter schools need real reform
Bill White Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call July 12, 2017
Legislators should go back to drawing board for real charter school reform  I've written a lot about bad or struggling charter schools.  I've made no secret of my feeling that although I recognize there are high-performing charter schools with specialized offerings that make sense, our state's terrible charter school law also has paved the way for some really low-performing, poorly run ones that have drained needed resources from the public school system, are insufficiently accountable to anyone and were created for their money-making potential, not any educational need.  Most recently, the focus has turned onto the Innovative Arts Academy Charter School in Catasauqua, which moved into the building vacated by the defunct Medical Academy Charter School and has been a source of controversy for at least the past year.  Catasauqua Superintendent Robert Spengler, whose board was unhappy that charter school representatives stayed away from the last special meeting called to discuss the school, told me, "They're forgetting who's in charge."  But while Bethlehem Area School Superintendent Joseph Roy, who has been a particularly outspoken critic of Pennsylvania's handling of charter schools, agrees that's how the system should work, he said it doesn't. "The school districts aren't in charge," he said. "That's the problem."  He said the system has transferred power over millions in taxpayer funds from elected school boards to unelected charter school boards and officials, resulting in a loss of local control of education. "The local boards don't really have a lot of leverage over charters because of the way the law is written."

New community schools coming to West, Northeast Philly
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag | Updated: JULY 12, 2017 — 9:29 AM EDT
Gompers Elementary, in Overbrook, and George Washington High School, in the Northeast, will join the nine existing community schools, which embed social services and other supports inside existing Philadelphia School District buildings.  Officials had hoped to tap more schools to join the program, but said the ongoing soda-tax litigation hampered their ability to add more to the fold. The program’s roughly $3.75 million budget is covered by the sugary-drink tax.  Flanked by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Kenney made the announcement Wednesday at City Hall. He has said he plans to spend $40 million in four years on the program.  “We’d love to add more, but have to be mindful of expansion,” said Otis Hackney, Kenney’s Chief Education Officer. “We thought we could add two schools without significant impact to our budget.”  Kenney ran on a pledge to create 25 community schools over four years. Hackney said that even with the small number of schools added in year two, the city would still be on track to reach that goal.  Come September, Gompers and George Washington will get a city-paid coordinator each to assess student and family needs and match them to resources in the community.

Washington High, Gompers added to community schools
That makes 11 total. Fewer schools were chosen than originally planned, due to continued litigation over the soda tax.
Newsworks by Dale Mezzacappa and Avi Wolfman-Arent July 12, 2017 — 4:52pm
The city and School District named two more community schools Wednesday, expanding the network to 11.  Gompers Elementary in West Philadelphia and George Washington High School in the Far Northeast were added.  The initiative, which has been a priority for Mayor Kenney's administration, is an effort to make schools into neighborhood hubs for social services and other assistance for students and their families. Originally, the city had hoped to add five schools this year, but it cut back its plans due to continued litigation over the tax on sugary beverages, which is the source of funds for the program. The initiative costs about $3 million a year.  Kenney made the announcement at City Hall, along with Council President Darrell Clarke, School Superintendent William Hite, and Otis Hackney, chief of the city’s Office of Education.  “We’re losing time over this stupid legal challenge,” Kenney said. “The only way to overcome the cycle of poverty is through education.”  The beverage industry has sued over the tax. The city won the first two rounds, but the case could head to the Supreme Court.  Kenney’s goal is to have 25 community schools within four years. He’s following the theory of a growing national movement that says addressing health and social-emotional needs of children and families in schools can create better learning conditions by mitigating the effects of poverty and stabilizing communities.

2014-2015 Pennsylvania School District Medicaid Reimbursements for School Based ACCESS Services
Source: Education Voters PA via Senator Casey’s Office
For nearly 30 years, schools across Pennsylvania have used Medicaid to fund the School Based ACCESS program to cover certain health-related services for Medicaid eligible children. Children covered by Medicaid may receive primary or preventive services in a school-based center, such as hearing and vision screenings. Pennsylvania also uses Medicaid dollars to help schools provide services described in a child’s special education plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This includes services such as occupational and physical therapy, nursing, mental health, and aides in the classroom. Medicaid also covers health services for eligible children through the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment Services (EPSDT). 2014-2015 Pennsylvania School District Medicaid Reimbursements for School Based ACCESS Services In Fiscal Year 2014-2015, the Federal share of Medicaid funding for Pennsylvania School Based ACCESS services was nearly $145 million. Under the Republican plan to cap Medicaid expenditures, state elected officials may be forced to cut funding to schools that provide special education services to students with disabilities. Below you will find a district by district breakdown of PA school-based Medicaid funding

Wolf says he's optimistic, insists he's doing 'right thing'
AP State Wire By MARC LEVY July 12, 2017
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday he was optimistic about getting a good budget agreement and that his administration was acting legally in waving through a budget that lacked the tax collections to sustain it for the entire fiscal year, the second time in two years.  This year, however, is different than last year, when lawmakers remained in Harrisburg and negotiators hammered out a revenue deal within two days after an unbalanced budget bill became law.  Lawmakers this week were sent home to their districts and officials had no progress toward a deal to report Wednesday, the 12th day of a budget stalemate.

Pa. governor optimistic that lawmakers will agree on funding new budget
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he's optimistic that lawmakers will approve a spending plan for the already approved  state budget, which went into effect on July 1. Wolf said Wednesday it's not a done deal, but it will be done.   “Let me just make it clear,” he said. “I’m negotiating. We are negotiating the same way we’ve negotiated all these things that have gotten some very good, responsible legislation done in the past, and I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get to a very good, balanced budget revenue option here in Pennsylvania.”  But when reporters asked if he’d say which budget items were close to completion, the answer was firm.  “No,” Wolf said. 

Delco State reps react to Pa. budget and Medicaid votes
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times POSTED: 07/13/17, 4:32 AM EDT | UPDATED: 21 SECS AGO
As state legislators grapple with a budget that doesn’t contain the revenue to pay for it, some say the environment harkens to the legendary stalemate two years ago, except this time Pennsylvania’s credit may tank into the junk bond status if a resolution doesn’t come soon. A $32 billion spending plan became law at midnight on July 10 without the governor’s signature after the General Assembly passed it June 30. At issue is a way to pay for that $32 billion, something that has not yet been determined, in the face of a $2 billion budget gap and a stern warning by Standard & Poor’s that the state’s credit rating is in jeopardy of downgrading because of “financial mismanagement.”

“Former House Speakers Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County, and John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon of Beaver County and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Loeper, R-Delaware County, are all convicted ex-lawmakers turned lobbyists.”
Editorial: Felonious ex-lawmakers lobbying: Time for long, hard look
TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Prison time for abuse of office should mean permanent disgrace, but it doesn't in the State of Corruption. Some ex-lawmakers with criminal records are lobbying in Harrisburg — a practice that deserves a long, hard look by the Legislature.  Pennsylvania law requires one year's wait before those who leave the state payroll can lobby. Interest groups, which have a right to lobby, value ex-lawmakers' knowledge. And even convicted ex-lawmakers have a right to seek employment once they've paid their debt to society.  But should those convicted of abuse-of-office felonies continue influencing, as lobbyists, the business of the public, whose trust they violated so egregiously?  Former House Speakers Bill DeWeese, D-Greene County, and John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon of Beaver County and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Loeper, R-Delaware County, are all convicted ex-lawmakers turned lobbyists. In their clients' eyes, their insider connections apparently outweigh their baggage. But their lobbying blunts the deterrent effect that their convictions should have on sitting lawmakers. And it doesn't ease voters' suspicions about the Legislature and influence-peddling in its orbit.
Past calls to ban Harrisburg lobbying by felonious ex-lawmakers have gone nowhere. The time has come to reconsider this practice, which reinforces Pennsylvania's status as the State of Corruption.

“One big takeaway is that people know that what the president pushed for is not at all feasible,” said Kelly McManus, director of government affairs for the Education Trust, an advocacy organization that has been critical of Trump’s education agenda.  Trump had sought $1 billion to encourage public school districts to adopt choice-friendly policies, and another $250 million to expand private school voucher programs. The GOP budget bill appears to leave out both.”
GOP House members seek to cut education budget — but not nearly as deeply as Trump proposed
Washington Post By Emma Brown July 12 at 7:25 PM 
House Republicans are seeking to cut the Education Department’s budget by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent — a substantial reduction, although far smaller than the $9.2 billion in cuts that President Trump proposed.  The House GOP also appears to have largely rejected Trump’s proposals to expand private- and public-school choice, according to education advocates who have studied an Appropriations Committee bill released Wednesday afternoon. Expanding school choice is a key priority for the White House and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  “One big takeaway is that people know that what the president pushed for is not at all feasible,” said Kelly McManus, director of government affairs for the Education Trust, an advocacy organization that has been critical of Trump’s education agenda.  Trump had sought $1 billion to encourage public school districts to adopt choice-friendly policies, and another $250 million to expand private school voucher programs. The GOP budget bill appears to leave out both.  Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the Appropriations Committee’s Republican majority, declined to confirm that the two programs would not be funded, saying that would become clear next week when the committee publishes its bill report.  House Republicans would increase funding for charter schools by $28 million, to $370 million. Trump had proposed a far larger bump to $500 million.

House Education Spending Plan's Cuts Less Severe Than Trump Budget
Education Week By Andrew Ujifusa on July 12, 2017 5:28 PM
The House spending bill that would fund the U.S. Department of Education for the coming budget year seems to mostly ignore the school choice proposals put forward by President Donald Trump and would cut overall spending at the U.S. Department of Education by less that the president proposes.   The bill, released on Wednesday, would provide $66 billion for the department, down $2.4 billion from the current budget. By contrast, the Trump adminstration wanted a $9.2 billion cut, down to $59 billion. However, at least a few big-ticket K-12 programs are saved from the budget ax. The legislation would not fund the $1 billion public school choice program the president proposed in his fiscal 2018 spending blueprint. Nor does it appear to provide any money to the $250 million in state grants to support private school choice that Trump also sought.  State grants for special education, meanwhile, would get a $200 million increase from this year (fiscal 2017) up to $12.2 billion, while traditional Title I funding for districts would essentially remain flat at $15.9 billion. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are seeking a small cut for special education grants, while they sought to keep traditional Title I aid at $14.9 billion, separate from the $1 billion choice program they want under Title I.

Senate Republicans, Preparing New Health Bill, Have No Votes to Spare
New York Times By ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLAN JULY 12, 2017
WASHINGTON — The likely defection of two Senate Republicans has left their leaders no margin for error as they move on Thursday to unveil another version of their bill to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act — without an assurance that they have the votes even to begin debate next week.  Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky flatly declared on Wednesday that he would not vote to take up the bill, which he said left too much of President Barack Obama’s health law in place. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has gone almost as far, saying that the bill cuts too much and that only major revisions could win her over.  The loss of a single additional senator would doom, at least for now, the Republicans’ effort to make good on their seven-year promise to uproot the health law. Unity is proving elusive. A lunch meeting of Republican senators on Wednesday ended with no clear consensus.

Click the PA-School-Based-ACCESS-Medicaid-Reimbursement-Data to see how  much your school district received in Medicaid reimbursements in 2015.
From an Education Voters PA Email
At the federal level, in order to provide a massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, the Republican healthcare plan in the Senate would strip nearly $145 million in annual Medicaid reimbursements from school districts in PA and gut Medicaid funding for children with disabilities.  The Republican healthcare plan ends a nearly 30-year commitment that the federal government has made to provide schools with guaranteed Medicaid reimbursements to help pay for vital healthcare services for eligible students with disabilities, including nursing care, physical therapy, mobility, vision, and audiology services, and many more.  Under the Republican healthcare plan, Medicaid funding is capped and federal Medicaid reimbursements for students with disabilities will no longer be guaranteed to our schools.
Senator Casey  (202) 224-6324 opposes the Senate Republican healthcare plan, Senator Toomey (202) 224-4254 supports it.
If you oppose stripping Medicaid funding from schools, now is the time to call your senator. If  you wait, you may be too late.

Why Pat Toomey has become a key voice on GOP health bill
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau  @JonathanTamari | Updated: JULY 12, 2017 — 12:31 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Within a divided Senate Republican caucus, resistance to the party’s high-stakes health bill has come from Ohio, West Virginia, Maine and Nevada – states like Pennsylvania that have expanded Medicaid to hundreds of thousands and seen the grim opioid epidemic up close.  And yet Pat Toomey has been one of the bill’s most vocal advocates.  While GOP senators from those other states have decried spending cuts that they say could cost their constituents health coverage and undermine substance abuse treatment, Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator has argued that there are no cuts at all — and has authored a plan to scale back Medicaid even more.  In doing so, Toomey has been one of the most vocal and visible advocates for a controversial bill that could affect health care for millions.  He has vouched for the plan repeatedly on national television, including on a sprint through Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC and CNBC on Monday. He touted it in a USA Today column and defended the proposal last week in a question-and-answer session televised on several Pennsylvania stations.
His critics accuse Toomey of putting conservative ideology ahead of Pennsylvania’s interests, and of threatening health care for hundreds of thousands of constituents.  The senator rejects those predictions and has defended the bill by standing on the themes that have driven much of his public career: a smaller, leaner government.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: July 4 - 11, 2017
FairTest Submitted by fairtest on July 11, 2017 - 1:23pm 
Continuing a slow but steady movement, several more states have eliminated testing requirements and others are considering rolling back mandates. There's still a long way to go to end test misuse and overuse, but signs of progress should not be downplayed.

Gerrymandering: Fair Districts PA Statewide Calendar of Events

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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