A constitutional amendment that opens the door to property tax relief for homeowners won overwhelming approval of voters in Tuesday's election. With almost 98 percent of the votes counted, the unofficial results showed 54.5 percent of voters supported this state constitutional change to raise the exclusion level to up to 100 percent of the value of each "homestead," or primary residence, while 45.5 percent opposed. The exclusion level that has been in place since its adoption in 1997 capped it at 50 percent of the median assessed value of all homesteads in a school district, municipality, or county. The strong support for this constitutional change sends a mandate to state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf that Pennsylvanians want them to act to provide property tax relief for homeowners. Plus, Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill County, who has been championing a legislative effort to eliminate property taxes for several years, said, "It gives the General Assembly a lot of options that it does not possess today." For example, he said previously if lawmakers passed a law to eliminate school property taxes for homeowners while keeping them in place for commercial properties, it could have been thrown out as unconstitutional.
For Online Schools, Unique Challenges in Serving Transgender Students
Education Week By Benjamin Herold November 6, 2017
Indiana Connections Academy faced a dilemma. Around 2013, a growing number of transgender students at the K-12 school began telling staff they wanted to be recognized by a different name and gender than was listed on their birth certificates. But Indiana Connections Academy is a full-time online charter. That means most of students’ interactions with teachers and classmates occur online, using technology platforms that display each child’s name and other information. The school couldn’t change what was displayed publicly without first wrestling with serious questions about student privacy, as well as changing what was stored in its back-end database, which at the time required students’ legal name and gender for state reporting purposes. Finding a technical fix was just part of the ongoing challenge, according to Melissa Brown, Indiana Connections Academy’s longtime executive director. The school has also had to consider its legal obligations around serving transgender students, which have shifted over the past two presidential administrations. And just as significantly, Brown and her team were forced to navigate a broader culture war in which advocates of LGBT rights have been pitted against some proponents of religious liberty.
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