New Federal Money For School Safety—Apply By July 23!
AASA Policy Blog June 8, 2018
Superintendents are likely aware that after the tragedy at Parkland, Congress acted quickly to create a new funding stream to support efforts to deter school violence. The passage of the STOP School Violence Act was supported by many organizations (including AASA) and was a bipartisan achievement. It authorizes $75 million in funding for FY18 and $100m in funding for the following 9 years. The STOP Act dollars are distributed by the Department of Justice and within the DOJ there are 3 separate grant applications for districts. The application for the first two funding streams was released yesterday. The deadline to apply is July 23. Click here to register to apply. This is VERY fast because the dollars must go out the door to districts by September 30th. Obviously, given that many schools are out of session this is particularly inconvenient timing but AASA is working with Sandy Hook Promise and other partners to make this grant application process as seamless as possible for districts. Here’s the information you need on the first two grant opportunities that are distributed through the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) division. The first grant is for School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting. The second grant is for School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Programs.
Let's set the record straight on school district fund balances | Susan Spicka
Penn Live Guest Editorial By Susan Spicka Updated 8:38 AM; Posted 8:00 AM
What's that old adage? If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
The Commonwealth Foundation has been wielding its public school-hating hammer for more than three decades. The Scaife Foundation-funded, right-wing propaganda machine can certainly afford other tools. I'd suggest perhaps some reading glasses, and maybe thermos full of honesty when writing about school fund balances. Here's what is conveniently obscured from the Commonwealth Foundation's rhetoric on school district fund balances:
Center on Regional Politics Policy Brief Explaining School Fund Balances: Are PA Schools, with a $4.7 Billion Fund Balance, Holding Too Much in Reserve? An Update for FY 2015-16
Temple University Center on Regional Politics David W. DAVARE JULY 2017
Here's a quote from the 2017 School District Fund Balance report from the Center on Regional Politics, a policy research organization housed at Temple University, which counts both Republican and Democratic members of the state legislature on its board.
"The fund balance is an important financial tool for school districts and needs to be considered individually by the districts as they look at their future responsibilities and resources, including enrollment trends, their obligations for funding pensions, the physical state of their facilities, the reliability and timeliness of future state funding, and the changing economic climate of their communities." The report goes on to say: "...it seems fair to say that although the distribution of fund balances is not systematically related to the wealth or poverty of districts, it is a rough indication of the unequal resources available to schools under Pennsylvania's system of public education finance."
Letter: Funding needed for special education
The Sentinel Letter by Deborah Gordon Klehr Executive Director Education Law Center May 29, 2018
Dear Editor: Your recent article about South Middleton School District’s efforts to close its deficit through a proposed tax hike and layoffs of instructional aides, including those serving students with special needs, highlights a problem facing many school districts across Pennsylvania. [South Middleton School Board gives preliminary approval to budget, tax increase, The Sentinel, May 22, 2018] South Middleton community members are right to demand that their students with disabilities receive the high-quality, inclusive education to which they are legally entitled. But what’s important to remember is that inadequate state funding contributes to the district’s situation. A 2009 study showed that there was a $380 million funding gap for special education across the state, and we know that gap has grown. That has resulted in an insufficient number of staff and other cuts to critical services that students need to make educational progress. When districts are forced to shift dollars to cover mandated and necessary special education services, that has a ripple effect throughout the budget.
Gov. Wolf proposes putting $20 million more for special education in the next state budget. This is an important step, but lawmakers must increase that amount in their final state budget to get children the support they need.
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans muscle judicial election change into redistricting bill
Lancaster Online By MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press June 12,2018
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday moved to capitalize on the political momentum behind adopting a less partisan redistricting system to overhaul how state appeals judges are elected, drawing howls of protest from Democrats. The GOP majority muscled provisions into a redistricting bill so that appeals court judges would be elected by district, rather than statewide. The measure would address long-standing Republican complaints that candidates from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions win a disproportionate share of statewide judicial races, compared to candidates from the rest of the state. The vote was 31-18, with every Democrat and two Republicans voting no. Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth court judges would be phased out as their current terms expire, and the courts would gradually be filled by those elected from districts. If voters approve the bill's citizens' commission, the commission will draw the lines for legislative and congressional districts. The move comes amid Republican backlash over Pennsylvania's Democratic-majority Supreme Court overturning the state's GOP-drawn map of congressional districts earlier this year. The court's Democrats — all from the Philadelphia or Pittsburgh areas — ruled that Republicans had unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional boundaries. A court-ordered map of redrawn districts now in place is likely to shrink a 12-6 Republican advantage in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation in a state where Democrats have won 18 of the last 24 statewide elections.
Anti-gerrymandering bill amended by Pa. Senate GOP; Democrats call it 'poison pill'
Inquirer by Liz Navratil, Gillian McGoldrick & Jonathan Lai, Harrisburg Bureau Updated: JUNE 12, 2018 — 4:37 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — With time running out to alter how Pennsylvania’s political maps will be drawn in 2021, Republicans in the state Senate made a dramatic change to a redistricting bill Tuesday that prompted key activists to pull their support and begin lobbying against it. One day before the bill came up for a final vote in the chamber, state Sen. Ryan Aument (R., Lancaster) introduced an amendment that would allow voters to decide whether appellate judges — including state Supreme Court justices — should be elected from regional districts rather than statewide. Democrats described it as a “poison pill” and an attempt to retaliate against Democratic state Supreme Court justices who just five months earlier voted to overturn the state’s congressional lines, on the ground that they had been gerrymandered to favor Republicans. “Every one of you in this room knows that the reason we are doing this today and forcing it into Senate Bill 22 is because [Republicans] want to retaliate against the Supreme Court,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Students tell Pennsylvania school safety task force to listen
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES | Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 5:12 p.m.
Students had a message for school leaders, law enforcement, health professionals and Harrisburg officials who gathered Tuesday at Woodland Hills High School: Listen to us. “When having this conversation about safety in our schools, we have to be listening to people who are actually inside the school, so that means students,” said Christian Carter, a recent Pittsburgh CAPA graduate. “Students are experiencing this public school system from the day that they are in kindergarten all the way up until 12th grade.” Carter spoke at the final meeting of the Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force, which held five other meetings throughout the state to gather feedback from communities on school safety. He urged those in power to continue to make sure students and parents — and especially those who have been personally impacted by gun violence — have a seat at the table as security decisions are made. The task force — which is led by Gov. Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale — over the summer will produce a report that is to include recommendations for improving school safety.
State leaders hold school safety meeting at Woodland Hills High School
WPXI Updated: Jun 12, 2018 - 5:50 PM
TURTLE CREEK, Pa. - The Butler Area School District is ready to be the first in the county to create its own school police force. According to our partners at Butler Radio, the school board voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with plans to create a new force authorized to arrest and use such as Tasers. Right now, the district uses retired Pennsylvania State Police troopers to protect the school. This is just the latest step by local school districts to increase security and protect students. At Woodland Hills High School Tuesday, students, teachers and administrators say more needs to be done to address mental health issues. The Governor's Task Force on School Safety faced criticism from high school students who contend many on the task force are out of touch and don't know what's going on behind the school walls. "We know what's going on as students and they like to say they know what's going on, but really they have no clue," said Kyle Fogarty, a senior at Woodland Hills High School. Other students urged the task force to tackle mental health issues facing students, who say that's their biggest concern. "We need guidance counselors and officers and people just communicating with the kids and getting involved with the students because at the end of the day, you have to make sure that they're all mentally stable," said Rhiya Godhania-Carter, a junior at Woodland Hills High School. Gov. Tom Wolf created the task force after a school shooting and Florida. The meeting Tuesday was the sixth, and final, that allowed them to hear from teachers, administrators, parents, police officers and students.
Muslim Based Gulen Movement Tied to William Penn SD Vision Academy Charter School
Upper Darby Sentinel News By Agnes Lawless Bedard April 17, 2018
September 2015 the William Penn School District opened the doors to the first charter school in Delaware County. The ribbon cutting ceremony for Vision Academy Charter School was attended by Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson, (D-164), Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins, the only mayor to attend out of 48 boroughs, but the event was short on elected representatives. Those in attendance were not told the whole truth about the charter school. Vision Academy is a Gulen Movement school with its CEO and principal having organized other Gulen school that the FBI is now investigating. Representative Davidson’s support for the school has not changed even with the knowledge that Adem Oksuz, principal and CEO of Vision Academy has moved from school to school, state to state creating Gulen schools only to have the schools investigated or closed due to financial irregularities, abuse of the H1B Visa program and failing the students with a subpar education. Davidson stated at the opening that “I know some folks are going to beat me up for supporting,” she said as she gave remarks to the crowd. “But I still say every child has the right to education, regardless of their zip code. We cannot continue to [let] children that live in poverty have only one option.” Adem Oksuz, is the registered CEO of Vision Academy. The filing with the Federal Department of Education, lists Oksuz’s accomplishments as being the supervisor of the Daisy Education Corporation (charter holder of Gulen charter schools in Arizona including Sonoran Science Academy) and the Superintendent of Sonoran Science Academy. The picture is not what it would seem. In fact, Oksuz had been involved in more than 4 different Gulen schools in various capabilities’.
“Statewide, the graduation rate climbed from 82 percent in 2010-11 to 86 percent in 2015-16, according to the most recent data available from the state Department of Education. Data from the most recent school year will not be available until 2019. Data released by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research and statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Education, show that the national graduation rate for public high school students in the 2015-16 school year was 84 percent — “the highest it has been since the rate was first measured in 2010-11,” according to the most recent report. The rate in 2010-11 was 79 percent.”
Graduation rates fall at some Westmoreland County high schools
Trib Live by JAMIE MARTINES | Friday, June 8, 2018, 10:36 p.m.
National and state graduation rates are at a recent high, but not all districts across Westmoreland County have experienced the same gains in recent years. Small districts like New Kensington-Arnold have seen graduation rates drop, going from 80.77 percent in 2010-11 to 69.34 percent — or 95 out of 137 students — during 2015-16. Jeannette City also saw graduation rates decline during that six-year period, dropping from 77.27 percent during the 2010-11 school year to 73.02 percent in 2015-16, when 46 out of a possible class of 63 students graduated. A similar pattern of shrinking cohorts and declining graduation rates also is taking place in slightly larger districts such as Greensburg Salem, where the graduation rate fell from 92.67 percent in the 2010-11 school year to 87.32 percent during 2015-16.
Pro-Public Education Democrats Are Winning Big in Pennsylvania
In a recently de-gerrymandered state, Democrats standing up for public education hit on a winning strategy.
The Progressive by Peter Greene June 12, 2018
Pennsylvania is shaping up to be proving ground for fans of public education and progressive politics this year. Pennsylvania education has had a rough decade. Governors Corbett (Republican) and Rendell (Democrat), by some interpretations, have effectively chopped a billion dollars from the education budget. We have the worst school funding gap in the U.S. Our charter school laws have been called “the worst in the nation,” and we have a mountain of lucrative but failingcyber charters. Education in the commonwealth could use some electoral relief. The marquee battle will be the gubernatorial runoff between current Governor Tom Wolf and challenger state Senator Scott Wagner. Wolf was initially viewed with suspicion by some observers (including me) who wondered if his private business background and charter ties signal one more corporate Democrat supportive of privatizing public education. But Wolf has turned out to be the best friend public education has had in Harrisburg for years. Now, he is running on his record of restoring funding for public education, investing in pre-K, and attempting to fix Pennsylvania’s wonky school funding formula. He’s also vowed to veto Senate Bill 2, which would bring so-called super-vouchers to the state. Scott Wagner, on the other hand, was a co-sponsor for that bill.
Whitehall-Coplay adopts budget with 4.05 percent tax hike
Harrison Cann Of The Morning Call June 12, 2018
The Whitehall-Coplay School District adopted a $70.4 million 2018-19 budget Monday, including a 4.05 percent tax hike. Residential property taxes will increase 3.73 percent, bringing the tax rate to 17.21 mills. A home owner with a house assessed at about $171,000 — the district average — will have a $106 tax increase, with their school tax reaching about $2,950. The board voted 5 to 2 to approve the budget. Board members Owen Eberhart and Patty Gaugler voted no. Gaugler said she wasn’t a fan of the tax increase, citing the $435,000 increase toward purchasing six school buses as her main concern. “I think if we eased into buying the buses instead of doing it all at once it would’ve been a little better,” Gaugler said. The budget includes funding for five new teaching positions, 11 new para-educator positions and an additional resource officer.
Other major increases were $200,000 toward retirement contributions and $600,000 additional charter school tuition funding.
“Next year’s largest increases in general expenditure involve an additional $1,265,359, or 4.5 percent, for employee salaries and $1,404,632, or 7.3 percent, more in benefits that includes medical and other types of insurance, plus a higher mandated contribution to the state Public School Employee Retirement System. The district’s PSERS requirement continues to rise steadily on a yearly basis, increasing from 32.57 percent to 33.43 percent for next year.”
Mechanicsburg School Board approves tax increase and budget
Phyllis Zimmerman For The Sentinel June 12, 2018
Residents in the Mechanicsburg Area School District will pay more in real estate taxes in the upcoming fiscal year. The Mechanicsburg Area School Board has approved a final general fund budget for 2018-19 that will increase real estate taxes by 2.4 percent. The finalized $70.5 million district spending plan raises the district’s real estate tax levy from the 2017-18 rate of 13.0560 mills to 13.3693 mills. A property owner assessed at the district’s average value of $176,025 will pay an annual total of $2,353 in real estate taxes for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July, an increase of $55. The 2.4-percent tax increase meets the index set for the district by the state Department of Education for the 2018-19 fiscal year from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. The school board was mandated to finalize a 2018-19 budget before July 1. District business administrator Gregory Longwell said last month that money raised by the tax increase will go toward operational costs and capital projects in the district. Financial advisers recommended earlier this year that the district should raise taxes by at least 1 percent over the next three years to help finance several capital improvement projects now underway or planned within the next few years.
Harrisburg school board continues budget talks, but changes to preliminary budget unlikely, CFO says
The Burg News JUNE 11, 2018 | by Lizzy Hardison
After five years of state-imposed austerity, the Harrisburg school district doesn’t have many programs left to cut. That was the message of district administrators to the school board budget committee tonight, as they presented cost-cutting alternatives that could help the district close a $9 million deficit. The board has already approved a preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 school year, which calls for eliminating 51 positions across the district – most of them teachers. Combined with a 3.6 percent tax hike, the cuts will narrow the district’s deficit to $4.7 million. Board president Judd Pittman voted to approve the preliminary budget in May. But he also asked the business office to identify other expenditures that the district could trim.
North Hills school board passes final budget with 0.25-mill tax hike
Post-Gazette by SANDY TROZZO JUN 12, 2018 2:01 PM
The North Hills school board has approved a final budget that raises taxes by 0.25 mills. Three security items -- including job descriptions for school police officers -- also were approved. The budget has expenditures of $84.1 million and revenues of $80.3 million. It will be balanced with a $1.27 million transfer from a fund slated for rising pension obligations and a $2.5 million transfer from the general fund balance to the capital projects fund to cover the high school roof replacement. The millage increase will raise taxes to 18.25 mills, or $33.88 per year on a home valued at $135,000, the median home value in the district. Each mill is estimated to be worth $2.6 million. Fifteen new positions are in the budget, including five elementary classroom teachers, one middle school and three elementary computer science/math teachers, a middle school student assistance specialist and three elementary special education positions.
Legislative committee to conduct hearing on public-private high school sports tourneys
MIKE WHITE Pittsburgh Post-Gazette email@example.com JUN 12, 2018 9:28 AM
A legislative committee that oversees the PIAA will have a public hearing next week to discuss the idea of separate championships for public and private schools, as well as other issues in Pennsylvania high school athletics. The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee has scheduled the hearing for Monday in Harrisburg, with members of the PIAA present. The oversight committee has three House members and three senators. The issue of public vs. private/Catholic/charter schools has been a hot topic in high school sports for a number of years. But the complaints have become more numerous in the past few years and the critics have become louder recently because of the dominance of some private/Catholic/charter schools in football and basketball. Over the past three seasons, 69 percent of the PIAA boys and girls basketball champions have been teams from “non-boundary” schools. Critics believe private and charter schools have an unfair advantage because they do not have geographical boundaries to draw students. Public schools can only take students from a geographical district.
NRA Has a 'Tight Grip' on Trump's School Safety Work, Senator Tells Betsy DeVos
Education Week Politics K12 By Andrew Ujifusa on June 12, 2018 12:22 PM
How can a federal commission, charged with figuring out how to prevent the next school shooting, ignore the issue of guns? That's the question Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, put to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a letter sent Monday. In particular, Murray is trying to understand why DeVos recently told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that assessing the role of guns in school violence is "not part of the [commission's] charge, per se."DeVos' deputy, Mick Zais, later clarified that the commission would be looking at "narrow" aspects of gun ownership, including age restrictions to purchase certain firearms. None of that adds up for Murray, who thinks the commission should consider "meaningful" efforts to address gun violence, such as universal background checks and a ban on high capacity magazines. "While the Commission continues to delay meaningful efforts to address gun violence, our nation's children are paying the price," Murray wrote. "Shifting the focus away from guns only shines a spotlight on the tight grip the [National Rifle Association] has on this Administration and the Administration's inability to listen to the voices of the people you claim to serve." Murray also has concerns about the way the commission has, in her view, diminished opportunities for public input. She noted that the panel's first "listening session" was held during the day, in Washington, D.C., with little advanced notice for students, community members, educators, health care providers, and others to make travel arrangements.
Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
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 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16
PSBA Website May 14, 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 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application
Join with EdVotersPA and PCCY for Capitol Caravan Days and fight for our public schools! When: 9:00-3:00 on June 12 or June 20 (your choice!)
Where: The Harrisburg Capitol
Why: To show state lawmakers that their constituents expect them to support public school students in the '18-19 budget
Education Voters of PA joining together with Pennsylvania Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) for a lobby day in Harrisburg. Join a team and meet with your state legislators and legislative leaders to talk about how the state can support K-12 students in the state budget.
Register Here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdrk24gH61bp7Zjy_JFpIELPYcEvXx05Ld4-_CPltQYyqLSPw/viewform
BRIEFING: PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING IN PENNSYLVANIA
IN PHILLY, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018, 8:30-10:00 A.M.
Join Law Center attorneys Michael Churchill, Jennifer Clarke, and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg for a free briefing on the state of education funding in Pennsylvania. They’ll cover the basics of education funding, our fair school funding lawsuit, the property tax elimination bill, the 2018-2019 state budget, and more! RSVP online here. The briefing will be held on Wednesday, June 13th at 8:30 a.m. at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Download a flyer for this event.
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
POWER 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM at the PA Capitol
On Wednesday, June 20th at 1 PM, students, parents, community activists, and faith leaders from different traditions will gather on the steps of the State Capitol Main Rotunda for POWER’s 100% SCHOOL FUNDING Day of Action to demand support for legislation to put 100% of the Commonwealth's Basic Education Budget through PA's Fair Funding Formula. We ask you to join us as we stand in solidarity with one another and continue demanding fair and fully funded education for Pennsylvania’s public school students. In addition to a large rally, we will march to Governor Tom Wolfe's office to pray for his support for 100% through the Formula. Join us as we hold meetings that day with our legislators asking each one to speak out in favor of POWER's 100% plan.
Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket .
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait. These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link . Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer based on need. Go and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to . We can't wait to see you.