Monday, February 25, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Feb. 25: HB256 and SB34: Cyber charter school costs are under the microscope; “We are going to take a hard dive into this issue”

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HB256 and SB34: Cyber charter school costs are under the microscope; “We are going to take a hard dive into this issue”

“Between pension contributions, charter school tuition, and special education services, costs climbed nearly $4 billion between 2010-11 and 2016-17, while state funding grew by less than $2 billion, according to the report.”
Gov. Wolf proposed more money for public schools, but districts say math just doesn’t add up
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: February 23, 2019
The Pottstown School District lost $1 million in annual tax revenue after a for-profit hospital was sold in 2017. It has cut more than 60 administrators, teachers, and staff over the last eight years, outsourced its transportation department, and increased elementary class sizes, the district says. Its tax base has declined, and it’s reluctant to turn to property owners for help: The district already has one of the state’s highest real-estate tax rates — triple that of the Upper Merion School District in the other end of Montgomery County. So when Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a spending plan that would add $665,000 in state aid to Pottstown’s $62 million budget, district officials weren’t exactly celebrating. “In the overall grand picture of putting our students on a fair and equitable platform with students across Pennsylvania, there’s a long way to go,” said school board member John Armato. Districts across the state — particularly those with lesser resources — share Pottstown’s complaints: They stand to get more money in 2019-20, but they say it’s not nearly enough. Despite funding increases under Wolf and the adoption of a new state formula several years ago that directed more money to school districts with greater needs, many Pennsylvania districts are still facing financial challenges that will require deeper cuts, steeper tax increases, or both. Because Pennsylvania relies heavily on local taxes to pay for schools — in 2016, the state contributed 37 percent of public education revenue, a lesser share than all but four other states — much of the burden falls to property taxpayers. Districts with more limited tax bases have less ability to raise money to pay their bills.

State Funding for 63 Philadelphia Area Schools
(This graphic is part on Maddie Hanna’s Inquirer article posted above)
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2019-20 budget includes increases in Basic Education Funding, which is the largest form of state aid to school districts. Listed below are the 63 districts in the Philadelphia area and their funding change over last year.

“Sonney, a member of the House since 2005, said his proposal is not meant to eliminate charter schools. He said it is designed to reform the funding mechanism for cyber charters. “The reality today is that there is school choice,” Sonney said. The bill is before the House Education Committee. Sonney said he will schedule committee hearings throughout the state, including at traditional public schools and at cyber charter locations. Sonney said he wants to determine how many public districts have cyber programs and why students are enrolled in cyber charters instead. “We are going to take a hard dive into this issue,” Sonney said.”
HB256: Cyber charter plan would aid Erie-area school districts
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted at 2:01 AM February  24, 2019
Rep. Curt Sonney, now head of Education Committee, revisits funding reforms that have charter advocates concerned. The Erie School District introduced its own cyber school programs in 2012 to compete with cyber charter schools. If proposed legislation gets passed in Harrisburg, the district’s investment could yield returns that would be greater than expected. At the same time, the legislation, if successful, would be all but certain to cripple the finances of cyber charters in Pennsylvania. The prime sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 526, introduced Tuesday, is state Rep. Curtis Sonney, of Harborcreek Township, R-4th Dist. He took over as the chairman of the influential state House Education Committee in January. HB 526 would require parents of any cyber charter student to pay the student’s tuition to the charter if the student’s home school district has its own cyber program. The student’s home school district would no longer have to cover the student’s tuition through taxpayer dollars. “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 will ultimately result in savings for school districts,” Sonney wrote in a co-sponsorship memo that summarized the legislation. For the Erie School District, the largest public school district in the region, the savings would be considerable. In 2018, the district paid out $25.4 million to all charter schools, including $5.9 million for cyber charters, according to district records. If Sonney’s legislation passes, the Erie School District would not recoup all of the $5.9 million because of costs associated with operating its own cyber classes, Superintendent Brian Polito said. But he said the district would still get back much of the $5.9 million — money that would help the district further rebound from its long financial crisis. “The savings for the school district would be in the millions,” Polito said.

Cyber charter school costs are under the microscope
Trib Live by DEB ERDLEY   | Saturday, February 23, 2019 6:00 p.m
Tiffany Nix, superintendent of Leechburg Area schools, watched in frustration for years as hundreds of thousands of dollars went out the doors of her small, cash-strapped district with families who enrolled their children in cyber charter schools. “We were paying $13,000 to $24,000 a year for each of them. It comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year out of a budget of $15 million,” Nix said.  Last year, Leechburg settled on a new option and contracted with the Seneca Valley School District to launch its own cyber academy at a cost of $3,470 per student. At the Jeannette City School District, which piggybacked with Hempfield Area’s cyber academy, tuition is even lower. Jeannette pays $1,500 a year for mainstream students who enroll in the local district’s cyber academy, business manager Paul Sroka said. Nonetheless, districts must budget hundreds of thousands of dollars — or millions, in some larger districts — to cover tuition for families who opt to place their children in one of 16 licensed public cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. The costs affect every public school, in small districts like Leechburg and Jeannette with about 900 students each, to Pittsburgh Public Schools, which has about 23,500 students. “Charter schools in general are a tremendous drain on school budgets, and cyber charters are part of it,” said Ira Weiss, longtime solicitor for Pittsburgh Public. “What’s more troubling with cyber charters is they are making an enormous profit because the cost of operating one is very small compared to a brick-and-mortar school.”

Cyber charter school spending by district in Pa.
As part of Deb Erdley’s TribLive article above, you can view the 2016-17 cyber charter tuition costs for each PA school district along with what their corresponding costs would be if cyber tuition were capped at $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed students

SB34: We need to fix cyber charter funding
Indiana Gazette Letter by Michael J. Vuckovich, Indiana Area superintendent of schools Feb 24, 2019
I am writing in support of Senate Bill 34. I believe that the commonwealth must enact comprehensive and meaningful reforms to level the playing field between charters and traditional public schools, and this bill addresses that. I am proud of the work being done in public education, and we need to support these efforts by enacting smart and purposeful reform in regards to cyber charters. The current funding model takes money away from students in the Indiana Area School District — nearly $1 million and we are certainly not alone — and hands it over to a cyber charter entity that has no accountability to the district. Our students are more than a test score and certainly more than a profit for a cyber school that has little to no community impact, connection or commitment. Quite simply, it does not cost as much to operate a cyber charter program as it does a brick-and-mortar one; therefore, it makes no sense that the two entities be paid the same per-pupil rate. The special education tuition calculation is also flawed, as it requires school districts to pay charter schools regardless of the costs of actual services provided to students and results in the overpayment of district funds to charter schools for special education students. IASD is facing a nearly $1.3 million deficit, and cyber reform could eliminate a large portion of our deficit without raising taxes. The time to act is now. Our students, our community and our taxpayers deserve more. I am a firm believer in public education, and the current model regarding cyber charter schools is not in the best interest of Pennsylvania’s students or taxpayers. If cyber tuition rates were set at $5,000 for regular education and $8,865 for special education, the taxpayers of the Indiana Area School District would save $650,000 per year. If the state required students to attend our district-created cyber and not outside cybers, we would capture nearly $1 million in savings. I appreciate our legislators’ thoughtful consideration of Senate Bill 34 and the opportunity to fix a system that is broken.

Blogger note: Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 was over $1.6 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million, $436.1 million and $454.7 million respectively.
Over the next several days we will continue rolling out cyber charter tuition expenses for taxpayers in education committee members and legislative leadership districts.

In 2016-17, taxpayers in Senate Majority Caucus Chair .@SenatorMensch’s districts had to send over $13.3 million to chronically underperforming cybers that locally elected school boards never authorized. SB34 (Schwank) or HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Data source: PDE via @PSBA

Boyertown Area SD
Brandywine Heights Area SD
Easton Area SD
North Penn SD
Oley Valley SD
Palisades SD
Perkiomen Valley SD
Pottsgrove SD
Pottstown SD
Quakertown Community SD
Souderton Area SD
Upper Perkiomen SD


How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat tuition rates of $5000 for regular ed students and $8865 for special ed.? See the estimated savings by school district here.
Education Voters PA Website February 14, 2019

Renewed push to change education formula; York would see benefits
Local21News by Michael Gorsegner Friday, February 22nd 2019
There is a renewed push at the state capitol to change the way school districts receive state funding. And that could mean a huge shift in where the money is heading. “It would be huge. Not just for York city which is underfunded but for West York as well as York Suburban,” said Representative Carol Hill-Evans, (D) York. Estimates show that the York City School District is underfunded by nearly $52 million. That’s the result of the current fair funding formula which went into effect three years ago. A new proposal would change that formula again meaning a big win for schools and taxpayers in this city. “We are seeing gross under funding from all three school districts,” said Rep. Hill-Evans. A recent study by education organization, Equity First, shows that the three school districts Representative Hill-Evans covers, York City, York Suburban and West York, are severely underfunded under the current formula. York City is shorted $52 million dollars a year while York Suburban and West York should get about $5.5 million more. “It puts a burden on the school districts that give our students the type of education they deserve,” Rep. Hill-Evans said. Just three years ago, the Basic Education Funding Commission established a new formula that would disperse money more fairly to districts in need. Opponents say the problem is that only new money runs through that formula because of a clause called “Hold Harmless” which ensures no district gets less money than the prior budgeted year.

Anti-gerrymandering events coming to Boyertown, Pottstown
It took a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to redraw Congressional districts across Pennsylvania. The result in last year's elections was that the 18 seats from Pennsylvania split right down the middle, nine Republicans and nine Democrats. That’s opposed to the 2016 Congressional elections, which tilted red with 13 Republicans and five Democrats winning office under districts drawn by GOP state lawmakers. But activists are warning that the court's redrawing of the maps treated a symptom and not the systemic problem, which is that after the next Census in 2020, the same General Assembly that gave Pennsylvania the nationally mocked 7th Congressional district — think "Goofy kicking Donald Duck" — will be in charge of drawing the district lines all over again. Those activists, Fair Districts PA and Draw The Lines PA are offering two local opportunities, one in Boyertown, one in Pottstown, for those so inclined to get involved. • On Monday, March 4, a presentation on "Making Your Vote Count - Redistricting Reform," will be made at the Boyertown Community Library, 24 N. Reading Ave., at 7 p.m. by a Fair Districts PA - Montgomery County leader. Rich Rafferty, the Fair Districts PA — Montgomery County lead, will explain why his organization believes gerrymandering reform is critically needed in Pennsylvania. • On Tuesday, March 5, Draw the Lines PA will hold a "Games for Democracy" event at the Montgomery County Community College Sustainability and Innovation Hub, 140 College Drive in Pottstown.  The free event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. and dinner will be provided by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. 

American Paradigm proposes ambitious goals for fifth Philly charter school
Three of the company's four schools operate without signed charter agreements
The notebook by Greg Windle February 22 — 4:08 pm, 2019
American Paradigm is applying to open a fifth charter school in Northeast Philadelphia, even though it has declined to sign new charter agreements at three of its schools that now operate under expired charters. This was a point of contention with the Charter Schools Office at the company’s new charter hearing before the Board of Education. The charter office’s evaluation also criticized the school for unrealistic academic goals, little evidence of meaningful engagement with the community, and inadequate planning for the progress of the most vulnerable student demographic groups it proposes to serve. The new school would be called Tacony Academy Charter School at St. Vincent’s, a K-8 school modeled after American Paradigm’s existing K-12 school, Tacony Academy. The building would be bought from the Archdiocese – a 13-acre campus at 7201 Milnor St. that opened in 1857 as an orphanage. St. Vincent’s charter school would start with 400 seats in grades K-3 in the fall of 2019 and expand to 900 seats in grades K-8 in year six, by adding one grade with 100 students each year. The annual cost to the School District would be nearly $11 million in year five, according to the school’s application.

At second annual Black History Month Expo, Constitution High students have a chance to network
Students also get a broader view of African American professionals.
The notebook by Maya Wernick February 22 — 3:53 pm, 2019
The National Constitution Center is usually filled with tourists and historians, but on Friday, it was filled with 350 students from Constitution High School, eager to learn and network at their second annual Black History Month Expo. The students took a short walk from their high school to the National Constitution Center for the expo. Nearly 70 percent of the students at Constitution High School are black, and more than 90 percent are non-white. Constitution High School, “Pennsylvania’s first public school dedicated to the teaching of law, democracy, and history,” hosted a similar event last year, but this is the first year that they used the National Constitution Center as the venue, making the day even more unusual for students. The day was orchestrated by Brittni Jennings, who teaches African American history at the school. She was assisted by volunteers from the senior class, as well as some of her sophomores and juniors, to make the day run smoothly and to help students get the most out of it. “The theme this year is ‘Exceeding Expectations,’” Jennings said. “We wanted to have a wide variety of black professionals talking about the ways in which they have exceeded expectations, whether the expectations were put upon them by their peers, their environment, the workplace, etc. We wanted to diversify African American success past the stereotype.”

Lobbying war over Philly soda tax still waged by the millions
Campaigns related to Philadelphia’s controversial sweetened beverage tax accounted for 40 cents on every dollar spent to influence Philadelphia legislation in 2018, according to a WHYY analysis of lobbying disclosures. Special interest groups overall spent more than $6 million lobbying Philadelphia City Hall and on other efforts to influence city policies in 2018. The biggest spenders by far were the beverage industry and its opponents, two groups locked in a costly war to sway public opinion over the city’s tax on sweetened beverages. Although the tax survived a courtroom challenge filed by the industry in July 2018, the lobbying has only intensified. In the case of the American Beverage Association, the majority of their lobbying expenses were logged after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling. Two groups, Philadelphians for a Fair Future and the American Beverage Association, shelled out a combined $2.6 million on these services. Some went to professional lobbying, but the vast majority went towards advertisements and outreach efforts.

Pa. Gov. Wolf’s plan to boost teachers’ base pay is long overdue | Opinion
By Tori Koerbler  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor February 24, 2019
Tori Koerbler is a third-grade teacher in the Panther Valley School District in Lansford, Carbon County, Pa.
When I was in fifth grade, the kick ball game at recess was the best part of the school day. My teacher, Mr. Mettler, would lace up his white New Balance sneakers, take the ball from the closet, and get the game going in the school yard. He could have taken recess time to grade papers or prep his next lesson, but he chose to spend it kicking a ball around with his students. Mr. Mettler inspired me to become a teacher, and like him, I put my students first every day. Every student in Pennsylvania deserves to have the very best educators. Teachers, after all, play a vital role in student achievement. That’s why I’m so happy that Gov. Tom Wolf has put forth a plan to raise the minimum teacher salary, which is now $18,500. He wants teachers like me to be able to pour our hearts and souls into educating our students, not worry about how we’re going to pay the bills. I have been teaching for the past four years, and I make about $37,000 per year. The governor’s plan would raise my annual salary to $45,000 next year. I am one of about 3,100 educators across the commonwealth who would benefit from the governor’s proposal to raise teacher salaries. Three out of four of us are women, and half of us — myself included — have more than three years of experience.

Applauding Safe2Say launch and a cautionary tale about lead [opinion]
Lancvaster Online by THE LNP EDITORIAL BOARD February 25, 2019
THE ISSUE: The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s new school threat reporting system — Safe2Say Something — went live in mid-January. It allows students, educators, parents and community members to submit anonymous tips about potential threats. All public and private schools in Pennsylvania must eventually participate, and about 3,800 schools are already involved, including about 85 percent of K-12 schools. The new system fielded more than 4,900 tips in its first month and “about a third of them (were) considered serious enough to pass along to local police and school officials,” The Associated Press’ Mark Scolforo reported in a story published last week in LNP. We shared our concerns last month about the launch of this important school safety program. There were, at the time, some questions and criticism from school officials and state legislators about its rollout. A regional training session started late and appeared to be overbooked. The app and website were not available for some trainees to access.  In a letter sent to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, state Sen. Scott Martin of Martic Township and state House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler of Peach Bottom expressed disappointment over reports that “so many entities are still not on the same page and/or not yet trained.” And we added, less than six weeks ago: “The state attorney general’s office needs to improve communications with the educators it’s relying on to make Safe2Say an essential tool in the effort to prevent school violence.” We implored officials to make things clearer in days, not weeks. So, credit where credit is due. The launch of Safe2Say appears to have gone well.

S.O.S.: Save Our Students looks at how area school districts and students deal with mental health issues in our schools
The Sentinel February 23, 2019
This week The Sentinel takes a Closer Look at how area school districts and students deal with mental health issues in schools:
Day 1
Red flags and how to help; Social media's impact; Pressures facing kids
A support web; Training for school staff; Student assistance teams
Bullying in schools; Builders Club

North Allegheny won't change start time; cites 'significant costs'
Post Gazette by SANDY TROZZO FEB 22, 2019 7:09 PM
The North Allegheny School District will not change the start time for high school for the next school year, a decision that did not sit well with several school board members. Superintendent Robert Scherrer cited “significant costs” and a nationwide shortage of bus drivers for the decision. Mr. Scherrer noted that they plan to redistrict students for the 2020-21 school year, after the addition to Franklin Elementary is complete. There may be some efficiencies in bus routes that will allow them to change the high school start time then, he added. North Allegheny began a study to determine if the start time for high school – now 7:25 a.m., one of the earliest in the region – would help combat student stress. Surveys taken by teachers, parents and students endorsed the idea of starting both middle and high school at 8 a.m. But a study by the district and the company that provides its scheduling software showed that shifting to two instead of three tiers of bus runs would cost between $1.8 million and $2.8 million a year and require hiring between 29 and 46 bus drivers.

Ed Palattella: Vote pits Erie School Board vs. Zogby
GoErie ERIE TIMES-NEWS Posted Feb 20, 2019 at 2:00 AM
With a surprising decision, the Erie school directors showed their willingness to defy the state’s financial monitor. How long can the resistance last? Since he took over as Erie School District superintendent in July 2017, Brian Polito had received the School Board’s support on all his proposals, including those associated with the district’s massive reconfiguration. Polito’s run of victories ended a week ago in a vote that could signal more tough debates for the School Board in the months ahead. The board voted 8-1 on Feb. 13 to reject a recommendation from the Erie School District’s state-appointed financial administrator, Charles Zogby. He is monitoring the district’s use of the $14 million in additional annual funding that the General Assembly approved in the fall of 2017 to keep the district solvent. As part of the financial-improvement plan for the district that he submitted to state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera on Jan. 31, Zogby recommended the school district change its bidding policy. He suggested eliminating a requirement that all qualified bidders have registered apprenticeship programs — programs that are standard among union shops. Changing the policy would have opened up the bidding process to nonunion contractors, or those without registered apprenticeship programs. Polito supported the recommendation. Like Zogby, he said the streamlined bidding process could increase the number of bids, and save the district money, as it gets ready to launch its $80.8 million building repair project. The district is using some of the $14 million in additional funding to finance the plan. The School Board consented to the change at a nonvoting meeting on Feb. 6. The school directors’ apparent agreement led Polito to put the proposal on the agenda for the Feb. 13 voting meeting, where the measure failed in Polito’s first defeat. The difference between the two meetings was the presence of the union representatives at the voting session.

Phillys7thWard Blog BY STEVEN MALICK FEBRUARY 22, 2019
A growing body of research is beginning to confirm what many stakeholders in the mid-Atlantic region already recognize: teacher diversity mattersResearch shows that increasing the racial diversity of teachers benefits students. Students of color in particular may benefit from having a same-race teacher. Researchers found that black students from low-income households in North Carolina who had one black teacher in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to consider pursuing college. Another study found positive impacts on student achievement in Florida for students who had a same-race teacher. Mirroring national data on teacher and student demographics, the most recent data for the mid-Atlantic region show that white teachers represent more than 80 percent of the teacher workforce, while students of color make up at least half of the student population in most mid-Atlantic states (Figure 1). With an educator workforce that is anything but diverse, stakeholders in the region urgently seek ways to reduce demographic disparities between students and their teachers.

Hooked on phonics? Not at T/E school district, and parents say the result is kids can’t read
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Updated: February 23, 2019
When Kate Mayer moved to the Philadelphia suburbs from Chicago nearly four years ago, she chose to live in one of the state’s best school districts, Tredyffrin/Easttown, so that her two children with dyslexia would get the help they needed. But she was surprised to discover that children who struggled to read did not get much time for special instruction. Nor was she happy with how reading was taught. “I realized that what [my children] needed was tough to get, even in a fancy public school district,” said Mayer. Soon she met other mothers who shared her views that the Main Line district seemed indifferent toward students with dyslexia, and used outdated teaching methods even as some kids fell behind. Today, the grassroots effort she formed with Jamie Lynch and Wendy Brooks, called Everyone Reads T/E, is both a prod and occasional thorn in the side of Tredyffrin/Easttown administrators as it crusades for teachers to employ new methods, and serves as a lifeline for a growing number of frustrated parents. As word spread about Everyone Reads T/E, the moms began to hear from parents in Radnor, Council Rock, and other districts — even from western Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They now want to form a regional group to trade information about a rising debate over how reading is taught.

Round 2 of teacher strikes looks beyond pay and funding
PA Homepage By: CAROLYN THOMPSON and JOHN RABY, Associated Press Posted: Feb 22, 2019 01:01 PM EST
Teachers in Oakland, California, hit the picket lines just as West Virginia teachers went back to class in a kind of coast-to-coast tag-team display of the national teacher unrest that in many places has moved beyond pay to politics, tackling issues like charter schools and vouchers. Call it round two of the teacher mobilizations that began last spring as grassroots revolts in conservative-leaning states over salaries and school funding. The most recent actions, including a union-led strike in liberal Los Angeles, have been as much about pushing back on charter schools and other school choice reforms - initiatives that have a history of bipartisan support but have long been decried by unions as threats to the traditional public school system. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the strikes this year are more important than actions that sought pay increases last year because teachers are pushing back on efforts to silence them. "So what's different is that this year, people stuck together to say we're defending public education and we're defending our role and our voice in helping children and I am so proud of them for doing that," Weingarten said in an interview. In West Virginia, teachers walked out this week for the second time in a year, this time over proposed legislation that would have created the state's first charter schools and allowed education savings accounts for parents to pay for private school. Proponents said the moves, which did not pass, would have given parents more school choices. Teachers saw it as retaliation for their walkout last year.

These Governors Are Calling for Teacher Pay Raises
Education Week February 25, 2019
Amid threatened teacher strikes and budget surpluses, more than 15 governors so far this year have recommended that their state boost teachers’ pay, according to an Education Week analysis of State of the State addresses. In states across the South and West—including in Arizona, Idaho, and West Virginia, where chronically low teacher pay has inflamed teacher shortages and caused political angst—governors are urging legislators in proposed budgets to provide teachers next year with anywhere from a 2 percent raise in North Dakota to a 20 percent raise in Arizona. Other governors, such as in Arkansas and Maine, want to raise their state’s minimum pay for teachers. It’s still too early to tell what the final picture will look like, since at least seven governors have yet to make their State of the State speeches. And there’s no guarantee that all teachers will get a pay raise this fall even if governors push for it. Some states, such as Nevada and Pennsylvania, don’t have statewide teacher pay scales, so it’s up to districts to actually allocate any extra money toward teacher pay.

About the NPE Action 2020 Presidential Candidates Project
Network for Public Education February 2019
Climate change. Health care. Taxes. These are topics that 2020 Presidential hopefuls are happy to discuss.  But as important as these topics are, we cannot let our public schools be ignored.
In cities across this nation, public schools are disappearing. The city of New Orleans is now a system of privately run charter schools. Vouchers and voucher workarounds send taxpayer money from public schools to private and religious schools. Religious schools are flipping themselves into charters in order to get public funds. The Koch Brothers have promised to target five states in which they will work to make public education disappear.  Private “choice” is trumping public voice. Test scores are the rationale to shut and shutter community schools even though charter school test scores are not better than those of public schools, and studies show that students who leave public schools with vouchers often do worse.  The Network for Public Education Action’s 2020 Candidates Project will make sure that the issue of school privatization is not ignored. We will grade every declared candidate on their positions regarding charter schools, vouchers, and high-stakes testing. We will grade them by how much they take from the billionaires who believe in the privatization of public schools and score each candidate on the company they keep. They can run for office but they can’t hide from all of us and the hard questions we will ask about school privatization.

2019 State of Education report now online
PSBA Website February 19, 2019
The 2019 State of Education report is now available on in PDF format. The report is a barometer of not only the key indicators of public school performance, but also the challenges schools face and how they are coping with them. Data reported comes from publicly available sources and from a survey to chief school administrators, which had a 66% response rate. Print copies of the report will be mailed to members soon.

The Game Plan: A Regional Strategy for Strengthening Pennsylvania's Workforce  Wed. Feb. 27th 8:30 am Bala Cynwyd
by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Wed, February 27, 2019 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM EST IHeartMedia, Inc, 111 Presidential Boulevard #100 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Do businesses leaders think they have the skilled workforce they need to keep Southeast PA growing? Is the Commonwealth providing students with a quality of education that will prepare them to meet the business needs of tomorrow?
Join our panel of experts, including Todd Carmichael, CEO of La Colombe; Mike Diaz, CEO of Semper Utilities; Philip Jaurigue, Chairman & CEO, Sabre Systems, Inc; Lin Thomas, Chairman and CEO, Supra Office Solutions, Inc.; Rachel M. Wilner, Senior VP and Regional VP, TD Bank and Tomea Sippio-Smith, Education Policy Director of PCCY. The event will coincide with the release of PCCY’s much anticipated report: A New Game Plan: A Regional Strategy for Strengthening Pennsylvania's Workforce.

Join PA Schools Work For a Webinar at Noon on Feb. 26!
Do you know how the Governor's proposed budget will impact your school? Do you know how you can effectively advocate for as much funding as possible? Grab a sandwich and join PA Schools Work on February 26 at noon as we unpack the Governor's budget and learn how to be an effective advocate for our schools and students.
What You Need to Know to be an Effective Advocate
During this hour, PA Schools Work's seasoned experts will walk you through the Governor's proposed budget allocation for education and what it means to you and your school. During this hour, we will also hone in on the tools and tips you need to ensure that you are making the biggest impact with your advocacy efforts. Join us to make sure you are equipped with all you need to know. Knowledge is power!

PSBA Members - Register for Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg Monday April 29, 2019
All PSBA-members are invited to attend Advocacy Day on Monday, April 29, 2019 at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. In addition, this year PSBA will be partnering with the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU) and Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) to strengthen our advocacy impact. The focus for the day will be meetings with legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education. There is no cost to attend, and PSBA will assist in scheduling appointments with legislators once your registration is received. The day will begin with a continental breakfast and issue briefings prior to the legislator visits. Registrants will receive talking points, materials and leave-behinds to use with their meetings. PSBA staff will be stationed at a table in the main Rotunda during the day to answer questions and provide assistance. The day’s agenda and other details will be available soon. If you have questions about Advocacy Day, legislative appointments or need additional information, contact  Register for PSBA Advocacy Day now at
PSBA members can register online now by logging in to myPSBA. If you need assistance logging in and registering contact Alysha Newingham, Member Data System Administrator at or call her at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3420

Board Presidents’ Panel
Learn, discuss, and practice problem solving with school leader peers facing similar or applicable challenges. Workshop-style discussions will be facilitated and guided by PSBA experts. With the enormous challenges facing schools today, effective and knowledgeable board leadership is essential to your productivity and performance as a team of ten.
Locations & Dates
Due to inclement weather, some dates have been rescheduled. The updated schedule is below.
Feb. 28, 2019 — St. Marys Area High School (Section 2)(Rescheduled from Jan. 31)
Mar. 28, 2019 — Crawford Cty CTC (Section 1)(Rescheduled from Jan. 30)

PSBA Sectional Meetings - Ten convenient locations in February and March
School safety and security is a complex, multi-perspective topic impacting school entities in dramatic ways. This complimentary PSBA member meeting featured in ten locations will offer essential updates and information on Safe2Say reporting, suicide awareness related to student safety, school climate, and emergency preparedness planning. Representatives from the Attorney General’s office, PEMA, and a top expert in behavioral health will be presenting. Updates on legislation impacting your schools will be presented by PSBA staff. Connect with the experts, have your questions answered, and network with other members.
Locations and Dates
Section Meetings are 6-8 p.m. (across all locations).
Register online by logging in to myPSBA.

Open Board Positions for 2019 PA Principals Association Election
Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:05 AM
Margaret S. (Peg) Foster, principal, academic affairs, in the Crestwood School District, has been appointed by President Michael Allison to serve as the chairperson of the 2019 PA Principals Association Nominations Committee to oversee the 2019 election. Her committee consists of the following members: Curtis Dimmick, principal in the Northampton Area School District; Jacqueline Clark-Havrilla, principal in the Spring-Ford School District; and Joseph Hanni, vice principal in the Scranton School District.   If you are interested in running for one of the open board positions (shown below) in the 2019 election, please contact Stephanie Kinner at or (717) 732-4999 for an application. Applications must be received in the state office by Friday, February 22, 2019.

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.

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.

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:  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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