Friday, January 4, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan. 4: …between 2008 and 2016, districts saw their special ed costs rise $1.54 billion, while the state’s increase during that period was just $71 million

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…between 2008 and 2016, districts saw their special ed costs rise $1.54 billion, while the state’s increase during that period was just $71 million

“A study last year by ELC and PA Schools Work found that for every new dollar Harrisburg spent on special education between 2008 and 2016, school districts spent $20. During that time, districts saw their special education costs rise $1.54 billion, while the state’s increase during that period was just $71 million.”
ELC asks Wolf to increase funding for special education
Increases in basic education is also necessary to provide students with disabilities all they need, the letter says.
the Notebook January 3 — 6:17 pm, 2019
Gov. Wolf talked to students after answering questions at a forum for area students.
The Education Law Center, which advocates for students, is urging a re-elected Gov. Wolf to increase state special education funding by $100 million, basic education by $400 million, and early childhood education enough to support 10,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds in quality preschools. It also wants funding for early intervention programs for infants and toddlers and additional money for 3- to 5-year-olds who have disabilities. ELC sent the governor a letter, which is signed by numerous advocacy groups and individuals, including attorneys who represent students with disabilities who are seeking to make sure they get the services from their school districts to which they are entitled. Since 2008, state support for special education services has plummeted, while costs have increased, placing the burden on local districts that can’t afford to keep up

Blogger note: below is a co-sponsorship memo from last year that was introduced by newly appointed House Ed Committee Chairman Curt Sonney (4-Erie). Curious to see whether it might be reintroduced this year…..

“…if a student lives in a school district that offers a full-time cyber education program but still chooses to enroll in a cyber charter school, the student or the student’s parent or guardian must pay the cyber charter school a per-student amount calculated in accordance with the charter school funding formula set forth in the Charter School Law.”
PA House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session
From:    Representative Curtis G. Sonney Posted:           December 20, 2016 10:07 AM
To:        All House members
Subject:Full-time Cyber Education Programs Offered by School Districts
I am preparing to introduce legislation that will require a student or the student’s parent or guardian to pay for the student’s education in a cyber charter school if the student’s school district of residence offers a full-time cyber education program.
Faced with paying the costs of a cyber charter school education for students living within their boundaries, some school districts now offer full-time cyber education programs of their own. In these programs, the school district itself offers a full course of study primarily through electronic means. Where a student participates in such a program, the school district is not forced to pay a cyber charter school for the student’s online education, and a student who completes the program earns a diploma from the student’s school district of residence.
Under my legislation, if a student enrolls in a full-time cyber education program offered by the student’s school district of residence, the student’s enrollment in the program will be subject to no tuition or fees other than those the school district may impose on its students generally. My legislation also provides that, by contrast, if a student lives in a school district that offers a full-time cyber education program but still chooses to enroll in a cyber charter school, the student or the student’s parent or guardian must pay the cyber charter school a per-student amount calculated in accordance with the charter school funding formula set forth in the Charter School Law. My bill will encourage school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs to their students, will encourage students to enroll in these school district programs, and ultimately will result in savings for school districts.  This is a reintroduction of former HB 2420. Previous co-sponsors include; D. COSTA, MILLARD and WATSON.

Here’s a reminder of what school districts are spending on cyber charter tuition:
Reprise: School Performance Profile Scores for PA Cyber Charters 2013 through 2017
Source: PA Department of Education website:
A score of 70 is considered passing

Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.

Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the five years that the SPP has been in effect.
Grad Rate
Cyber Charter School Name
21st Century CS
Achievement House CS
ACT Academy Cyber CS
Agora Cyber CS
ASPIRA Bilingual CS
Central PA Digital Learning Fdn CS
Commonwealth Connections Academy CS
Education Plus Academy Cyber CS


Esperanza Cyber CS
PA Cyber CS
PA Distance Learning CS
PA Leadership CS
PA Virtual CS
Solomon CS

Susq-Cyber CS

Proposed study could result in staffing cuts at Carlisle schools
Joseph Cress The Sentinel January 3, 2019
A proposed comprehensive study of staffing needs could result in job cuts in the Carlisle Area School District for 2019-20. The school board could vote Jan. 17 on a resolution that would authorize administrators to determine the minimum across-the-board staffing needs for the upcoming school year. If approved, the study would have a turn-around of about a month or two and could result in recommendations to close an anticipated $3 million deficit in the budget for 2019-20, Superintendent Christina Spielbauer said Thursday. The resolution directs administrators to weigh staffing needs based on instructional program requirements, student enrollment districtwide, student enrollment in specific classes or courses and organizational efficiencies. The study would examine all employee classifications, including support staff, administrators and professional employees — namely teachers. In cases where a recommendation would result in the elimination or reduction of positions, administrators would have to follow established procedures for the termination, suspension, furlough or demotion of each impacted employee.

Philadelphia School Gets Thousands Of Pounds Of Produce Each Week Thanks To Fresh For All Program
CBS Philly By Stephanie Stahl January 2, 2019 at 6:34 pm
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia school began the new year on a healthy note as thousands of pounds of produce was delivered thanks to a city program called Fresh For All. Dobbins CTE High School kicked off 2019 with fresh carrots, tomatoes, oranges and more as the program aims to help students and the community get healthier.  “This is a great time to do this,” said Laura Crandall of the Mayor’s Office of Education. “It’s the new year, people are making resolutions, so we want to make it easier for people to keep those resolutions.”Philabundance delivers 4,000 pounds of fresh produce each week to the school on Lehigh Avenue as part of the Mayor’s Office of Education program called Fresh For All. “Who would not love to have something nice and fresh in their refrigerator or just in their head to enjoy for the day, because that could be a highlight of the day,” said senior Sianae MacRyan. Learning to enjoy fresh, healthy food is just one part of the program — there are also a variety of fitness programs and attention to mental health.

Meet the 4-legged friends helping Lancaster County students overcome mental health issues
Lancaster Online ALEX GELI | Staff Writer January 4, 2019
Greeting students Thursday morning inside Manor Middle School was Principal Dana Edwards, Assistant Principal Scott Keddie, school counselor Danielle Rogers and perhaps the most popular of them all: Wrangler, a 2-year-old Australian Labradoodle. Wrangler sat, wagging his tail, waiting patiently for a pet, scratch or a high-five. Soon enough, one student came, and then another. And another. “He’s pretty popular,” said Rogers, Wrangler’s owner and handler. Such scenes are becoming more common in local schools, as more districts see the mental health benefits that four-legged friends can provide to students. Wrangler, whom Rogers trained through the United Disabilities Services for two years, is a service dog and Manor’s therapy dog. He prances through the hallways, stopping at certain classrooms for a quick “hello” or a treat. He welcomes each student every day, sits with them as they read and soothes stressed or anxious students. “He helps kids just open up and relax,” Rogers said. “He loves everyone and doesn’t play favorites.

What Straight-A Students Get Wrong
If you always succeed in school, you’re not setting yourself up for success in life.
New York Times Opinion By Adam Grant Dec. 8, 2018
Dr. Grant is an organizational psychologist and a contributing opinion writer.
A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking. Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers. I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong. The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee Seeks White House; Has Opposed Charters, Backed DACA
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on January 3, 2019 11:42 AM
Newly declared presidential candidate Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington state, opposed a successful 2012 ballot initiative allowing charter schools to open in his state, supported a tax hike to pay for teacher raises, and backed support for those immigrants who benefit from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Inslee, who announced his candidacy Thursday through an article in the Atlantic, was first elected governor in 2012 and re-elected in 2016 after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995 and again from 1999 until 2012. He indicated that his primary issue in his campaign will be climate change, although his education record covers a variety of issues. In 2012 when he first ran for governor, Inslee opposed the charter school initiative on the grounds that charters would take away resources from "strapped" traditional public schools. He also backed transferring more funding from wealthier to poorer school districts, and a bigger statewide tax levy to boost education aid. Looming over these proposals: a long-running court case over school funding in the state, McCleary v. Washington, in which judges ordered the state to boost aid to public schools.

The historic new Congress, in 17 pictures
A record-breaking number of women were sworn into the House and Senate on Thursday. By Li Zhou and Kainaz Amaria  Jan 3, 2019, 5:40pm EST
Thursday’s House speaker vote and opening of the 116th Congress set up a striking visual moment in the lower chamber: On Democrats’ side of the aisle, a historically diverse class of women and people of color were clad in bright outfits as they were sworn in, while on the Republican side, a relatively homogeneous group of mostly white men wore nearly identical dark suits. The sharp contrast in the House served to underline the stark differences between how the respective parties have approached promoting women and candidates of color. While Democrats have made it their mission to diversify the kinds of candidates and leaders they elect, Republicans have historically shied away from doing so for fear of being associated with identity politics. This distinction was especially apparent during the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats saw a groundbreaking number of women help the party retake control of the House, while Republicans actually saw declines in their number of women representatives. (The number of GOP women did grow in the Senate, however.)

School Director Recognition Month
January 2019 is School Director Recognition Month!
PSBA Website
In January, we pause to salute a group of nine people who spend dozens of hours each month voluntarily leading our schools and making difficult decisions – they are the school directors. As the successes of our students are being highlighted in a statewide campaign called “PA Public Schools: Success Starts Here,” let’s not forget our elected school directors who play a significant role in creating the environment where those successes can happen.

Pennsylvania schools work – for students, communities and the economy when adequate resources are available to give all students an equal opportunity to succeed.
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.

Build on finance, policy, board culture skills at PSBA’s Applied School Director Training
Four convenient locations in December and January
Take the next step in your professional development with Applied School Director Training. Building upon topics broadly covered in New School Director Training, this new, interactive evening event asks district leaders to dive deeper into three areas of school governance: school finance, board policy and working collaboratively as a governance team. Prepare for future leadership positions and committee work in this workshop-style training led by experts and practitioners. Learn how to:
·         Evaluate key finance documents such as budget and audit materials
·         Review and analyze board policies and administrative regulations
·         Build positive board culture by developing strong collaboration skills
Locations and Dates:
Dec.11, 2018 — Seneca Valley SD
Dec. 12, 2018 — Selinsgrove, Selinsgrove Area Middle School
Jan. 10, 2019 — Bethlehem, Nitschmann Middle School
Jan. 17, 2019 — State College

Cost: This event is complimentary for All-Access members or $75 per person with standard membership and $150 per person for nonmembers. Register online by logging in to myPSBA.

NSBA 2019 Advocacy Institute January 27-29 Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
Register now
The upcoming midterm elections will usher in the 116th Congress at a critical time in public education. Join us at the 2019 NSBA Advocacy Institute for insight into what the new Congress will mean for your school district. And, of course, learn about techniques and tools to sharpen your advocacy skills, and prepare for effective meetings with your representatives. Save the date to join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students. For more information contact

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.

Save the date: PSBA Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg has been scheduled for Monday April 29, 2019

Save the Date:  PARSS Annual Conference May 1-3, 2019
Wyndham Garden Hotel, Mountainview Country Club
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.

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