FY 2018-2019 Act 1 Base Index of 2.4% Posted in Pennsylvania Bulletin
NOTICES: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PEDRO A. RIVERA, Secretary
Pennsylvania Bulletin [47 Pa.B. 5604] [Saturday, September 9, 2017]
Index Calculation Required by Special Session Act 1 of 2006
Under section 333(l) of the Taxpayer Relief Act (53 P.S. § 6926.333(l)), the Department of Education (Department) has calculated the index for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019.
The index is the average of the percentage increase in the Statewide average weekly wage and the Employment Cost Index. For FY 2018-2019, the base index is 2.4%.
For school districts with a market value/income aid ratio greater than 0.4000, an adjusted index will be posted on the Department's web site at www.education.pa.gov by September 30, 2017.
Gerrymandering: Pa. needs to return power to voters with fair legislative districts
To create an impartial, independent citizens commission to direct the redistricting process, Pennsylvania would have to change the state constitution.
Inquirer Opinion by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman Updated: SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 — 11:26 AM EDT
Lori Yeghiayan Friedman is a volunteer with Fair Districts PA
Consent of the governed. These four little words are the cornerstone of our democracy. They appear in the section of the Declaration of Independence that begins with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and ends by stating that governments derive their powers “from the Consent of the Governed.” No amount of checks and balances matters if, ultimately, those who are elected do not truly have the people’s consent to represent them. The fact that our elected officials no longer have our consent is at the heart of our democracy’s erosion — and behind that is partisan gerrymandering, the process of drawing voting districts that favor one party over another. The people give the government consent by voting, which we do by district. In most states, including Pennsylvania, districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect changes in population per the U.S. Census. In Pennsylvania, both congressional and state legislative districts are largely determined by representatives of the majority party in Harrisburg.
It is a system that favors politicians — and politics — over citizens; it is a system where politicians pick their voters, instead of voters picking their politicians.
Pa. House members return to budget work
WHYY Newsworks BY KATIE MEYER, WITF SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
After weeks of deserted Capitol hallways and quiet meetings between Pennsylvania House members, the chamber is officially back in session — well over a month after the Senate passed a bipartisan revenue plan to balance the budget. It's now the House's turn to make a move, but it remains unclear what that will be. House Majority Leader Dave Reed confirmed the chamber is taking up a controversial revenue proposal from an anti-tax bloc of the House GOP. It's designed to fill budget gaps by raiding special state funds. House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said it will likely get a vote in the full House this week, but it's unclear if it will pass. House Speaker Mike Turzai is one of the chamber's most prominent, powerful opponents of new taxes. Before the session began, he spoke at a press conference against a severance tax on natural gas — one of the key components of the plan favored by the Senate, Gov. Tom Wolf, and House Democrats.
When reporters attempted to ask him questions about the budget following the conference, he refused to answer. A staffer for Turzai confirmed House leaders plan to keep members in session until they pass something, which might mean working through the weekend. Meanwhile, protesters swarmed the Capitol to demand lawmakers finish funding the budget that was due at the end of June. Marc Stier, of the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, took aim at Turzai in particular. "He's just out there with a small group of ideologues who pretend we can solve this without some kind of tax increase," Stier said. The House lawmakers who remain opposed to taxes have said that they won't vote for an increase until all other revenue sources are exhausted.
“If a deal is not done by Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, may have to freeze spending, which could lead to service cuts and layoffs in state government and school districts. Friday is when biweekly paychecks are issued to state employees, and $100 million in bond payments and $1.5 billion in Medicaid bills are due. The state doesn’t have the money in its accounts to pay for it all. Treasurer Joe Torsella, a Democrat, has threatened to withhold short-term loans.”
Pennsylvania House to vote on bill to plug $2.4 billion deficit with other money
Morning Call by Steve Esack Contact Reporter Call Harrisburg Bureau September 11, 2017
The Pennsylvania House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a controversial bill to plug the state’s $2.4 billion budget deficit with mass transit, farming and environmental money instead of higher taxes and bonds. The bill’s passage, however, is uncertain. The House’s Republican leadership decided to dial up the vote following an hours-long, behind-closed-doors meeting Monday among the 121-member GOP caucus. Not every Republican is on board with the bill and most of the 82-member Democratic caucus are expected to oppose it. If Tuesday’s House vote fails, it’s unclear what, if any, backup plan House Republicans have to pay for the state’s $32 billion budget. House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, has refused to call up a vote on Senate’s bill that raises utility taxes, adds a severance tax to natural gas drillers and borrows more than $1 billion from the state’s share of a national tobacco settlement proceeds to settle the deficit and pay for the budget. He’s also opposed any House bills, including from other Republicans, that would raise any taxes to pay for the budget.
“House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, informed rank-and-file lawmakers that they would remain in Harrisburg until a revenue package passes. Top of Form
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If this latest plan fails, it's also not clear what happens next. Hanging in the balance is another downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating and about $600 million in annual aid to four universities — the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities — that give tuition breaks to in-state students.”
Republican majority in Pa. House divided over plan to balance state budget
York Daily Record by Marc Levy, Associated Press Published 8:41 p.m. ET Sept. 11, 2017
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's House of Representatives returned to the Capitol on Monday for its first session in seven weeks, but a divided Republican majority argued over a new budget-balancing plan and provided no sign that a two-month budget stalemate will end anytime soon. The session gave members of the House's Republican majority their first chance as a group to discuss a plan aimed at balancing the state's threadbare budget, although it is opposed by House Democratic leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who called it "nonsense." The plan would avoid the borrowing, casino gambling expansion and utility service tax increases that underpins a $2.2 billion revenue package the Senate approved in July. That Senate's package was meant to keep state agencies, programs, schools and institutions funded at levels supported overwhelmingly by lawmakers in a $32 billion spending agreement with Wolf, but it is deeply unpopular with House members.
State budget talks reopen at Pennsylvania Capitol, after a summer pause
Penn Live By Charles Thompson email@example.com Updated on September 11, 2017 at 8:59 PM Posted on September 11, 2017 at 8:25 PM
The state House of Representatives returned to Harrisburg Monday to "figure out what it's for" regarding the unfinished state budget. Lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf need to find $2.2 billion to balance the $32.0 billion spending plan passed in late June for fiscal 2017-18. The majority House Republican caucus, specifically, is now scrambling for an alternative to a plan of borrowing and new taxes that the state Senate and Wolf agreed to in July. The first play, as of Monday night, still appears to be some form of a plan to sweep about $1.2 billion from dozens of special funds designed to enhance everything from farmland preservation to public transportation. It is running into a buzz-saw of opposition from the Wolf Administration and, to a lesser extent, Senate members who put up the difficult tax vote. But the success or failure of this plan - developed over the summer by a group of fiscal conservatives - has to be determined before the GOP leadership can realistically get its members to consider much else.
New PA budget plan may take money from Erie schools
YourErie Posted: Sep 11, 2017 06:19 PM EDT
In Harrisburg, it was separate meetings and still no agreement on funding the state budget.
Lawmakers returned to session, but democrats and republicans met in separate caucuses. One group of republican lawmakers want to use monies currently sitting dormant in other accounts, but that would probably cost the Erie School District $14 million. Another plan would borrow and use a tax increase to close the budget gap, still believed to be about $2 billion.
With winter coming for Pa., a budget only a 'Game of Thrones' fan could appreciate | John L. Micek
Penn Live By John L. Micek firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on September 11, 2017 at 2:31 PM Posted on September 11, 2017 at 2:30 PM
HARRISBURG -- If you're looking for some idea of just how weird things have gotten in the debate over Pennsylvania's still unfinished state budget, it was on full display in the Capitol rotunda on Monday morning. Because that's where you'd have found Jeff Garis, spokesman for the earnestly liberal Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, quoting favorably from the Gospel according to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. Yes, that Joe Scarnati.
At issue, specifically, was a frustrated Scarnati's, R-Jefferson, observation late last month that House Republicans' vain attempt to balance the books without raising taxes (more than two months after sending a finished spending plan to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf) was "not governing; it's an embarrassment." Especially, since, y'know, the Senate had done the hard work of actually coming up with a revenue plan for them. And he wasn't wrong. It's ridiculous that it's September and this poorly staged summer-stock drama is still in production.
WHERE THE BUDGET STANDS
Third and State Blog Posted by Marc Stier on September 11, 2017 5:06 pm
As legislators return to Harrisburg after a far too long vacation, it’s time to take stock of the state of the unfinished budget. In early July, the General Assembly enacted a budget that took many step forwards. It provided new funding for child care and pre-K education, for K-12 education, for the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education; for those who are intellectually disabled and face long waiting lists to get services; and for those for those who suffer from opioid addiction and mental illness. Yet, as of today, the General Assembly has not managed to pass a funding plan to pay either the budget for the current year, which remains about $900 million underfunded, or for the deficit of $1.5 billion accumulated last year. Weeks went by after the appropriations bill was passed with no action, but finally the Senate took a step forward. With strong bipartisan support it passed a revenue plan that was imperfect in many ways but got two big things right. Just as Republicans finally did in Kansas and Illinois, Republicans in the PA Senate recognized that we can’t cut our way out of budget deficits.
Online Resource: Potential Cuts to Public Education by House District & School District
Pennsylvania Council of Churches Website by email@example.com
From the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (http://www.pennbpc.org):
PBPC has created an interactive spreadsheet (http://pachoice.org/potential-education-cuts-pa/) that projects the financial losses to school districts (& to House districts based on the SDs within them) of 12% across-the-board cuts to Basic Education Funding, the Ready to Learn Block Grant, and Special Education Funding from levels approved in June by the General Assembly. A 12% across-the-board cut has been discussed as one of the potential consequences that could occur if a complete revenue plan is not enacted soon. This online tool allows people to see potential cuts to their school district on the second tab, and the total cuts to the school districts in their House district on the first tab. People should feel free to use these numbers in communications with state reps and in LTEs/op-eds.
Is Pa.'s state House Speaker running for governor or not? | Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek firstname.lastname@example.org Updated on September 11, 2017 at 3:29 PM Posted on September 11, 2017 at 8:21 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It wasn't so long ago that Pennsylvania state House Speaker Mike Turzai was looking like a serious contender for governor in 2018. The Allegheny County Republican was making all the right noises; he'd staffed up, and he was starting to sound like an actual candidate. And then? Well, Budget Debacle 2017 happened. And now Turzai has apparently put his aspirations on the shelf as he looks for a way to untangle a $2.2 billion revenue knot, our friends at The Associated Pressreported over the weekend. Turzai didn't immediately respond to the AP's requests for comment on his candidacy. And his campaign consultant, the normally voluble Mark Harris, was similarly keeping shtum.
Former SRC member hired to direct charter-advocacy group
Inquirer by Martha Woodall, Staff Writer @marwooda | email@example.com Updated: SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT
Sylvia Simms, a longtime parent advocate and former member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, has been chosen to lead an organization that represents parents seeking more charter schools and educational choice. The appointment of Simms as the first executive director of Educational Opportunities for Families is scheduled to be announced Tuesday. The organization was founded in 2014 and is supported by the Philadelphia School Advocacy Project, the political-action arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership. The partnership is a nonprofit that has raised and distributed $80 million to city charter, parochial and public schools since its 2011 inception to support the expansion of seats in high-quality schools. Simms takes the helm as Educational Opportunities for Families prepares to launch “an aggressive new initiative to engage more parents in support of school reform, particularly in North Philadelphia,” according to a statement announcing her selection. Thirty-four of the schools with the lowest scores on the district’s School Progress Report are in North Philadelphia.
Changes made to State College Area’s extended school day proposal
Centre Daily Times BY LEON VALSECHI firstname.lastname@example.org SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 11:47 PM
STATE COLLEGE - The State College Area school board was presented at its meeting on Monday with a revised version of the extended school day proposal. Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and Assistant Superintendent Vernon Bock outlined the proposal, which adds 44 minutes to the elementary school day, requiring students to start earlier, and shifts the secondary and high school hours by about 30 minutes. The changes would be implemented for the 2018-2019 school year. The proposal was created in collaboration with teachers, staff members, parents and community members to align with the district’s strategic goals to engage and support the whole student, foster continuous growth for every child and close individual achievement and opportunity gaps, according to a district release. To explain the proposal further, the district has cited recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics based on sleep research that suggests later start times and increased sleep times for adolescents can improve physical and mental health, academic performance and quality of life.
Editorial: Public school teachers shouldn't have to pay out of pocket for classroom supplies
Lancaster Online by The LNP Editorial Board September 12, 2017
THE ISSUE - In 2016, Pennsylvania teachers on average spent $427 of their own money for classroom supplies, decorations and basic items for their students, according to Scholastic’s most recent Teacher & Principal School Report. Nationally, teachers on average spent $530, the report stated. Teachers in high-poverty areas spent an average of $672. Scholastic surveyed 4,721 public school educators — 3,694 teachers (including 76 school librarians) and 1,027 principals and vice principals — nationwide for its annual report. Imagine being a hospital nurse and having to buy your own surgical masks and protective gloves. Or being a paralegal at a law firm and having to buy your own yellow legal pads. Unless we’re freelancers, or otherwise self-employed, most of us get all the supplies we need to do our jobs from our workplaces. Not so teachers. They dig into their own wallets when children come to school without backpacks, lunch bags, binders, even the proper clothes, because they know the children’s parents are unable to afford them.
Pittsburgh's Childhood Asthma Rates 'Alarmingly High,' According To Researcher
WESA By KATHLEEN J. DAVIS • SEP 8, 2017
High rates of asthma in Allegheny County are keeping kids out of schools and impacting learning, according to research by a local pediatrician. Pittsburgh has one of the highest rates of air pollution in the country, one of the strongest factors for childhood asthma. The study by Deborah Gentile reveals more than 22 percent of children in some Pittsburgh schools have asthma, much higher than the national average of just more than 10 percent. Gentile says this high rate of childhood asthma is alarming. "There are studies showing it impacts their learning, these kids don't sleep well at night, they're tired during the day, and they're missing school and some of them are hospitalized," she said. Gentile said this impacts low-income and minority children the most, as they tend to live closer to industrial plants and have the most exposure to industrial pollutants.
William Penn Foundation Launches Informal Learning Initiative
Philanthropy News Digest September 11, 2017
The Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation has announced the launch of a two-year, $2 million community-based initiative to connect children and families in the city's low-income neighborhoods to informal literacy-rich learning opportunities. Through the Informal Learning Initiative, eighteen nonprofit partners will join forces to design literacy-rich opportunities that enable parents, caregivers, and children to experience creative play and discovery geared toward developing their vocabulary, oral language, writing, and comprehension skills. Partners in the initiative include the Barnes Foundation, the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Fleisher Art Memorial, and other cultural institutions in the city, as well as organizations like Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Children's Village, and the People's Emergency Center that have deep roots in the low-income communities they serve. The program, which is aligned with the city-wide Read by 4th campaign, is expected to serve approximately 1,780 children and will make it easier for partners to take early learning programming directly to families in ways that not only engage children but also involve adults as active participants.
Pro-charter school group pays $425,000 settlement to state
Education Week September 11, 2017
BOSTON (AP) — A New York-based group that backed last year's charter school ballot question has paid more than $425,000 to Massachusetts as part of a campaign finance settlement. The payment by Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy is the largest civil forfeiture in the 44-year history of the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Investigators say the group violated state campaign finance laws by raising money from individuals and then contributing that money, more than $15 million, to the Great Schools Massachusetts Ballot Question Committee in a manner intended to disguise the source of the money. The question, which would have raised the state cap on charter schools, failed. Families for Excellent Schools CEO Jeremiah Kittredge says they believed they complied with all laws, but resolved the matter so they could move forward.
“That overall theme seems to jibe with DeVos' pitch for a greater range of educational options for kids, including expanding access to private school vouchers and charter schools. So far, she's had a tough time persuading Congress to provide the resources for that vision.”
Betsy DeVos Launches Six-State 'Rethinking School' Tour
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on September 11, 2017 11:51 AM
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will be spending her week doing a six-state back-to-school blitz to highlight what the agency calls "innovative educational settings" that are "fundamentally rethinking school." She'll be kicking off her trip in Wyoming, and swinging by Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. No word from the Education Department on exactly which cities, towns, and schools she'll be stopping at. "There are so many new and exciting ways state-based education leaders and advocates are truly rethinking education," DeVos said in a statement. "It is our goal with this tour to highlight what's working. We want to encourage local education leaders to continue to be creative, to empower parents with options, and to expand student-centered education opportunities."
CONSIDER IT: SCHOOL CHOICE AND THE CASES FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHARTER SCHOOLS
September 19 @ 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Hilton Reading
Registration Opens Tuesday, September 26, 2017