PA Schools Work Community Meeting Saturday, Feb. 2nd 8:45-12 am at DCIU
Do you care about our public schools? Learn how to take action to get students the support they deserve. Join the PA Schools Work coalition and community members across Delaware County to work together to advocate for PA public schools, their students and the communities they serve. On February 2nd from 8:45am-12pm at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, join the group to:
The Facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1997562453659915/.
Letter: Time to promote student-centered education in Pa.
Delco Times By Sen. Ryan Aument Times Guest Columnist January 30, 2019
I am honored to have been selected to lead one of the most important policy discussions facing Pennsylvania today. As the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee, I understand that the issues before us are as diverse as our Commonwealth. It is therefore crucial that we work together to understand and address those issues so that all Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to achieve success and experience upward economic mobility in an increasingly competitive and dynamic global environment. To that end, I will be reaching out to all of the members of the Education Committee to gather their input, hear their policy priorities, and collect feedback. I intend for the work of this committee to be member-driven and bipartisan, with an emphasis on collaboration through an open, ongoing dialogue about the issues that we collectively face. Further, we will be results-oriented. Accordingly, I believe we have an obligation to focus the committee’s energy on legislation that genuinely has a chance at becoming law. This is not to say that we will not debate and advance an issue for further discussion, but I intend to prioritize advancing those bills on which there is agreement, while also continuing to engage in meaningful conversations to build consensus where it is lacking.
By building consensus and arriving at workable solutions, we can create sustainable change in Pennsylvania’s education system for the benefit of our students.
Specifically, I intend to emphasize those facets of education I believe are central to creating a student-centered system, including, but certainly not limited to:
• Rigorous academic standards,
• Meaningful, accurate, and fair systems of accountability and transparency,
• Attracting and retaining high quality teachers and school leaders, and
• Individualized and customized learning opportunities for students, to name a few.
State Funding for Career and Technical Schools Falls Short
Public News Service January 30, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Last year's state budget increased funding for career and technical schools in Pennsylvania for the first time in a decade, but education advocates say there's still a long way to go. That extra $10 million in the current state budget for schools that provide hands-on training and experience for high school students was a much-needed boost, but Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said local school districts still are paying 90 percent of the cost of those schools out of their overall budgets. We see students who apply to these programs and they can't get in, because there aren't enough slots," she said. "We would have more slots available to students if the school districts had enough money to send more students." Spicka called on Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers to commit an additional $10 million to career and technical education, and to increase Basic Education Funding by $400 million. She said failure to fund technical schools also hinders growth of the state economy by leaving employers unable to find skilled workers to fill vacancies. "There are good jobs that can give students a pathway to a good, middle-class life even without going to college," she said, "but these jobs are vacant, because students aren't graduating from high school with the skills and the training that they need." About 55,000 students are enrolled in career and technical schools across the state.
“Over the last three years, the number of schools in the lowest tier of performance has been reduced by 50 percent (from 88 schools to 45 schools) and the number of schools in our highest tiers of school performance has doubled (from 36 schools to 68 schools).”
Philly school progress report shows improvement, but more work lies ahead | Opinion
Opinion by Dr. Chris McGinley and Dr. Angela McIver, For the Inquirer Updated: 29 minutes ago
In 2013, the School District of Philadelphia introduced the School Progress Report to provide a tool for evidence-based decisions about teaching and learning at the school level. The SPR allows Philadelphians to look at the performance of our public schools, district and charter, across multiple dimensions. More importantly, principals are able to make decisions about teaching and learning based on real-time data. Since the implementation of the SPR, the School District has seen a change in the ways schools respond to challenges. The recently released 2017-2018 School Progress Report shows a steady improvement in public schools across Philadelphia that should be celebrated. Over the last three years, the number of schools in the lowest tier of performance has been reduced by 50 percent (from 88 schools to 45 schools) and the number of schools in our highest tiers of school performance has doubled (from 36 schools to 68 schools). This year’s results show 70 percent of our schools have increased their overall school performance, which means that most of our schools have improved in the areas of academic achievement (students are on track in their academics), progress (students are meeting or exceeding their learning goals for the year), climate (attendance and engagement), career and college readiness, and educator effectiveness. These results would not be possible without Superintendent Dr. William Hite’s steady leadership, and our hardworking students, committed teachers, principals, staff, and community. Even with this progress, there is still much work to be done. As members of the Board of Education, our work is not complete until all of our students have access to quality schools. In order to achieve this, we will invest in strategies and policies that have demonstrated success in increasing quality educational opportunities to all Philadelphia students.
“Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. noted that city schools have posted four straight years of growth”
Which are Philly’s best, most promising schools of the year? School District touts 42.
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: January 30, 2019- 2:16 PM
Forty-two Philadelphia schools were hailed as the best and most promising schools of the year at a Wednesday ceremony at Hartranft Elementary in North Philadelphia. The announcement came as the Philadelphia School District released ratings for 316 city schools — traditional public schools and every charter except one. Overall, city schools, district and charter, earned a 42 out of 100, by the district’s internal performance metric; last year, the average was 35. Though that measure could be considered a failing score, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. noted that city schools have posted four straight years of growth. “Schools, by and large, are improving here in Philadelphia,” he said. “I’m the first to acknowledge that we have a long way to go, but you don’t go from the bottom quartile to the top tier overnight.” He spoke after a ceremony that felt like the Oscars for Philadelphia schools, with balloon arches, performances, crystal trophies for winners, and thundering applause.
Philly schools improving, according to district’s yardstick
By Avi Wolfman-Arent January 30, 2019
The School District of Philadelphia is on the upswing — at least according to its own rating system for school quality. The district released its annual ratings for traditional and charter schools Wednesday, and the average score for city schools rose for the third consecutive year. The typical city school claimed 42 percent of all available points on the district’s School Progress Report rating rubric. That’s up from 37 percent last year and 33 percent in 2014-15. The average charter school scored better than the average district school, but both sectors are on the upswing. The increases roughly coincide with a period of relative fiscal stability for the district.
Philly school district releases list of top performing, most improved schools
KYW by MIKE DENARDO JANUARY 30, 2019 - 9:00 AM
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia is releasing its list of top performing and most improved schools Wednesday. The district keeps score at each traditional public and charter school with a 1-to-100 index known as the School Progress Report (SPR). It grades schools' achievement, progress, climate and - for high schools - college and career readiness. Superintendent William Hite says overall, the scores have been inching upward. "What we've seen for three consecutive years are public schools across the city that are improving," Hite said. That's from an overall score of 33 in 2014-2015 to 42 last school year. Schools are sorted into one of four tiers based on their scores and those in the bottom tier get extra resources. Hite says attention to specific areas has led to fewer schools in the bottom tier. "We've been working on attendance for four of those five years. Now we're seeing results. We've been working on climate for seven. Now we're seeing results. But it's that sustained focused effort," he said. The district saw the biggest improvement at Hartranft and Mitchell elementary schools, the Middle Years Alternative and Lankenau high school. The SPR score was 42 last year for district and charters combined. Separately, the overall district SPR was 40, and charters scored 46. The district points out that seven low-performing charters were closed since 2014-15.
Philly District Schools Mark Three Consecutive Years of Improvement Citywide on School Progress Report
School District of Philadelphia Press Release Posted on January 30, 2019
PHILADELPHIA – The School District of Philadelphia celebrated three consecutive years of improvement among both District-led and charter schools. Results released today from the 2017-2018 School Progress Report (SPR) show that the average Overall SPR score for citywide schools increased nine points from 33 percent in 2014-2015 to 42 percent in 2017-2018. Mayor Jim Kenney and Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite visited John F. Hartranft School in north Philadelphia to celebrate the achievement with Hartranft Principal Jason Lytle, City Council President Darrell Clarke, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Board of Education members, students, parents, staff and principals from schools around Philadelphia. In addition, 44 schools were honored for significant and multi-year progress on the latest SPR. Some highlights are:
People for People applying for another charter with new branding
The applicants did not disclose close ties to People for People charter school, and argued the new school would be independent and unaffiliated
The notebook Greg Windle January 30 — 3:21 pm, 2019
The proposed founders of the new Frederick Douglass Charter High School have close ties to Rev. Herbert Lusk and the parent organizations that runs People for People Charter School in North Philadelphia. But at hearings last week, they went out of their way to minimize those ties, to the point where the hearing officer and members of the District’s charter office repeatedly questioned why. The hearing revealed a web of entanglements with organizations founded or run by Lusk, a minister who played for the Eagles in the 1970s and was once an adviser to President George W. Bush. In 2014, he was forced by the District to step down as CEO of People for People Charter, a K-12 school with 540 students, due to the circular leases and contracts that he established with other non-profits that he controls, often signing both sides of the contracts and leases. Those contracts have remained in place. School board member Wayne Walker is on the board of the school’s parent nonprofit, People for People, Inc. Pri Seebadri, CEO of People for People Charter School, insisted that the new school would be completely separate from the existing one, although located within a few blocks and sharing a landlord and management company. “There will be no overlap [of board members] and no conflicts of interest at all,” Seebadri said.
Pittsburgh school board rejects application for charter high school
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com JAN 30, 2019 8:39 PM
The Pittsburgh Public Schools board denied an application for a proposed charter high school Wednesday, and leaders of the charter said they will appeal the decision to the state. The school board unanimously voted to reject the proposal for Career Tech Charter High School, after a district review of the charter application cited a number of “deficiencies.” Career Tech leaders resubmitted the application this year after the school board rejected it last February, again citing weaknesses in the proposal. Among the issues the review found with the application: The proposed school would not offer students expanded choices and opportunities that aren't already offered by PPS; the curriculum would not align with state standards; the school had no plan in place to offer adequate services for English learners and students with special needs; and the school would not be financially sustainable.
Penn Hills: A history of mismanagement, lack of oversight led to state control
District faces $172 million in debt to pay off new construction
MATT MCKINNEY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette firstname.lastname@example.org JAN 30, 2019
When the Penn Hills School District debuted its new high school in late 2012, alumni from past decades returned to celebrate the new building’s sleek features, such as the 1,900-seat gymnasium and auditorium outfitted with cutting-edge lighting and sound technology. But in years that followed, it soon became clear – through persistently dire budget woes and a searing auditor general’s report – that former officials lacked a sustainable plan to cover the cost, leaving taxpayers and current district leaders with no easy fix. Today, Penn Hills struggles with debt payments that average about $1 million a month, driving what could be a $10.9 million budget shortfall this year, despite years of tax hikes and budget cuts. The state auditor general alerted several law enforcement agencies in 2016 to possible criminal and tax violations involving the district, although no charges have been filed.
“About a year ago, the district was facing a $6 million deficit. Officials said it was due to retirement costs and increasing costs for cyber and charter schools. To deal with that, the school board approved reconfiguring the district’s buildings, furloughing staff and a maximum 3.5 percent tax increase to balance the budget. The district also borrowed $10.45 million, used in part for pension and bond payments.”
Highlands facing $3.7 million budget deficit
Trib Live by BRIAN C. RITTMEYER | Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, 3:30 p.m.
Highlands School District’s preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year has a $3.7 million hole in it. That’s the gap between the district’s planned spending, about $46 million, and its estimated revenue of about $42.33 million, in the early version of the spending plan. The district released the preliminary budget on Tuesday. The school board is expected to vote on it Feb. 18. The district is adopting a preliminary budget in lieu of declaring it will not increase taxes by more than its state-imposed limit of 3.3 percent. The district has said it will ask the state Department of Education for exceptions based on special education and pension costs, which would enable it to avoid a voter referendum and increase taxes by more than the limit if needed.
$171M Spring-Ford budget may exceed 2.2% tax hike cap
Pottstown Mercury by Evan Brandt email@example.com @PottstownNews on Twitter January 30, 2019
ROYERSFORD — The Spring-Ford Area School Board has unanimously and without comment adopted a $171 million preliminary budget for the 2019-2020 school year. The decision, as well as a motion authorizing the administration to exceed the state-imposed tax hike cap of 2.2 percent, came as part of a single vote at the Jan. 28 meeting that included a total of nine financial matters. According to the night's agenda, the exact preliminary budget amount is $170,897,412. The current deficit projection is $4.5 million and could require a 4.2 percent tax hike to close. The same vote also authorized the administration to seek "exceptions" to a 2.2 percent tax hike cap imposed by Act 1. That law allows districts to adopt preliminary budgets in February and seek "exceptions" to the cap for certain purposes.
Schools ought to be required to test drinking water for lead, and to disclose results directly to parents
Lancaster Online Editorial by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD January 30, 2019
THE ISSUE: The Ephrata Area School District’s Akron Elementary School is among 10 mostly aging schools in four Lancaster County districts that were found in voluntary testing in 2016 and 2017 “to have elevated lead levels in water fountains, classroom sinks and a kitchen,” an investigation by Ad Crable, published in Sunday LNP, found. “And, as in the Akron case, two of the other three districts that found lead contamination — School District of Lancaster and Solanco — did not directly notify parents of the potential danger. But officials in all three districts maintain they took ample steps to notify the public.”
We understand the anger of Lisa Getz Bender and Brian Bender. As Crable reported, the Benders learned recently that their daughter had spent a year in a kindergarten classroom at Akron Elementary School where lead-contaminated water had been found, and they weren’t informed of the contamination by Ephrata Area School District officials. We would have been angry, too. As Lisa Getz Bender said: “Even if it had been a minute level of lead, it can be detrimental to children. We should have at least been informed.” She is right on both counts. As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, “There is no safe level of lead exposure in children, with lasting decreases in cognition documented in children with blood levels as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood.”
To help students achieve, Pa. should expand school choice | Opinion
Jonathan Butler Opinion For the Inquirer Updated: January 30, 2019 - 10:00 AM
Jonathan Butler is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy.
Zephaniah Sainta is headed to the University of Pennsylvania next year, but five years ago few would have thought it possible. Having immigrated to Philadelphia from Haiti, Zephaniah’s parents enrolled her and her brother in their assigned district school in Philadelphia. But the school struggled to meet her needs, and her family started looking for options. What Zephaniah’s parents really wanted was to send her a private school. Yet tuition was simply not in the family’s budget. That’s when Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), stepped in. Under state law, businesses can make charitable contributions to scholarship organizations such as BLOCS and receive a tax credit for their donation. BLOCS is the largest such organization in Pennsylvania and has raised $40 million for scholarships next year.
“Young students thought the board members help teachers, pay the bills, clean the schools and make the buses safe. Some of them gave the board members credit for other jobs such as changing the letters on the school district sign board, stopping in after work to check on the buildings and watching the students all day.”
Octorara School Board Members Recognized
Community Courier By Marcella Peyre-Ferry January 2019
January is School Board Recognition Month. Members of the Octorara Area Board of School Directors were honored by district staff members and administrators during the board meeting on Jan. 21 for the many hours of work they devote to the district without any financial compensation. The nine-member board at Octorara is composed of board president Lisa Bowman, Tony Falgiatore, Brian Fox, Sam Ganow, Matt Hurley, Bill Kloss, Charlie Koennecker, Brian Norris and Jere Zimmerman. As a part of the school board meeting, elementary-level principals presented a list of responses from students who were asked what they thought school board members do. The responses were accurate in many ways, directly or indirectly.
“The federal government’s contribution to serve IDEA students covers approximately 16 percent of the funding, which is well below the promised level of 40 percent. The funding gap serves as an unfunded mandate by forcing state and local governments to make up the difference. This discrepancy also impacts the amount of funding that serves students without disabilities, which is an unintended consequence of the federal government’s failure to meet its obligation.”
NSBA launches new initiative to reauthorize and fully fund IDEA
National School Boards Association Website January 28, 2019
NSBA today launched an initiative to advocate for the reauthorization and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). NSBA will highlight the critical need for the federal government to fulfill a long overdue promise to provide equal access to public education for all students and work with Congress to update this vital law. IDEA (Public Law 94-142), passed by the United States Congress and signed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, has not been updated since 2004. The law needs to be modernized to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are protected and to assist states and school districts so they can build upon their current efforts to provide students who need extra help the support and tools they need to receive an equitable educational opportunity. Effectively serving students with disabilities and their families is a shared responsibility and school board members have been diligently working to do their part. Public schools have made numerous enhancements – employing new instructional approaches, intervening with students and their families earlier, retaining more special education specialists, providing a range of programs and services, and more – to help students with additional educational needs. The current law, however, fails to meet the needs of students and their families.
Schools Would Get $100 Billion for Repairs, Rebuilding in Democrats' Bill
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on January 30, 2019 1:32 PM
Washington - Democrats are once again pitching a big plan to fix up America's schools. But it follows several false starts in the last few years to address this issue inside the Beltway from both parties. Under the Rebuild America's Schools Act, unveiled by House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday in Washington, the federal government would provide $70 billion in direct funding for school repairs and rebuilding, along with $30 billion in tax-credit bonds. The bill would also create "a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities," according to a fact sheet put out by the Democrats. The proposal, which was released by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., would also generate 1.9 million jobs, according to the Democrats, who cite an estimate from the left-leaning and labor-friendly Economic Policy Institute. In a press conference, standing behind a podium that bore the slogn "Build Schools Not Walls" (a reference to President Donald Trump's push to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border), Scott stressed that the bill would target money toward schools serving large shares of students in poverty. He said that every day, students and teachers go to school that are "either unsafe, or lack basic resources, or both."
Trump's Past State of the Union Pitches and Schools: A Scorecard
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on January 28, 2019 4:20 PM
President Donald Trump was originally scheduled to give his State of the Union address (or #SOTU for social media fans) Tuesday night. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Speaker of the House, told him he needed to wait until an end to the government shutdown, citing security concerns. The shutdown is over, for now. Congressional negotiators will spend the next three weeks trying to reach a deal on border security. And on Monday, Pelosi invited Trump to deliver his address on Feb. 5. But how much will Trump have actually had to say about education anyway? And will Congress give him anything that he asks for? Here's a quick recap of his last two annual addresses to Congress and what happened after:
Indiana Area School District Safety & Security Symposium March 15, 2019
Indiana Area School District Website
Background: It’s 2019, and school safety has catapulted as one of the top priorities for school districts around the country. With an eye toward providing educators with various resources and opportunities specific to Pennsylvania, the Indiana Area School District -- in collaboration with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA Representative Jim Struzzi, and as well as Indiana County Tourist Bureau-- is hosting a FREE safety and security symposium on March 15, 2019. This safety and security exchange will provide information that benefits all stakeholders in your education community: administrators, board members, and staff members alike. Presenters offer valuable resources to help prepare your organization to continue the discussion on safety and security in our schools. Pre-registration is required, and you will be invited to choose the breakout sessions that you feel will have the most impact in your professional learning on these various topics, as well as overall impact on your District’s systems of operations. Please take time to review the various course breakout sessions and their descriptions. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect and learn.
How to Register: Participants attending the Safety Symposium on March 15, 2019, will have the option to select a maximum of 4 breakout sessions to attend on this day. Prior to the breakout sessions, attendees will hear opening remarks from former Secretary of Education - Dr. Gerald Zahorchak. We want to empower the attendees to exercise their voice and choice in planning their day! Please review the various break out session descriptions by clicking on the "Session Descriptions" on the right-hand side of this page. On that page, you will be able to review the sessions offered that day and register for the symposium.
Join A Movement that Supports our Schools & Communities
PA Schools Work website
Our students are in classrooms that are underfunded and overcrowded. Teachers are paying out of pocket and picking up the slack. And public education is suffering. Each child in Pennsylvania has a right to an excellent public education. Every child, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a full curriculum, art and music classes, technical opportunities and a safe, clean, stable environment. All children must be provided a level chance to succeed. PA Schools Work is fighting for equitable, adequate funding necessary to support educational excellence. Investing in public education excellence is the path to thriving communities, a stable economy and successful students.
PSBA Board Presidents’ Panel
Nine locations around the state running Jan 29, 30 and 31st.
Share your leadership experience and learn from others in your area at this event designed for board presidents, superintendents and board members with interest in pursuing leadership roles. Workshop real solutions to the specific challenges you face with a PSBA-moderated panel of school leaders. Discussion will address the most pressing challenges facing PA public schools.
Annual PenSPRA Symposium set for March 28-29, 2019
Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association Website
Once again, PenSPRA will hold its annual symposium with nationally-recognized speakers on hot topics for school communicators. The symposium, held at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University, promises to provide time for collegial sharing and networking opportunities. Mark you calendars now!
We hope you can join us. Plans are underway, so check back for more information.
2019 NSBA Annual Conference Philadelphia March 30 - April 1, 2019
Pennsylvania Convention Center 1101 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
Registration Questions or Assistance: 1-800-950-6722
The NSBA Annual Conference & Exposition is the one national event that brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the students. Join us in Philadelphia for a robust offering of over 250 educational programs, including three inspirational general sessions that will give you new ideas and tools to help drive your district forward.
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools