Monday, April 1, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 1: From 2010 to 2017, pension payments for Delco schools increased by $119M, special education costs by $83M and charter school payments by $36M. In that same time period, state funding grew by $107M

Started in November 2010, daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 4050 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, current/former PA Secretaries of Education, Wolf education transition team members, superintendents, school solicitors, principals, charter school leaders, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, faith-based organizations, labor organizations, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

These daily emails are archived and searchable at
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Great seeing so many PA school directors and superintendents at the NSBA Conference in Philly this weekend!

Pa Schools Work: Sign the Petition & Join the April 4th Twitter Storm!
The PA Schools Work campaign is hoping to get thousands of signatures from school leaders and others across the state to increase state support for k-12 education. Please add your name to the petition that urges Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to increase their investment in education.  Click here to sign and share the petition.
Additionally, please join Pa Schools Work partners for a LIGHTNING LUNCH HOUR from 12 noon- 1 p.m. on APRIL 4-to create a Twitter storm!  The goal of the Twitter storm is to collect thousands of signatures on the petition urging adequate school funding by generating a flurry of tweets around PA SCHOOL FUNDING.   Click here to view the Pa Schools Work guide for the April 4 Twitter Storm.

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. We will continue rolling out cyber charter tuition expenses for taxpayers in education committee members, legislative leadership and various other districts.
In 2016-17, Senate Minority Whip @SenTonyWilliams school districts had to send over $72.9 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized. #SB34 (Schwank) or #HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Links to additional bill information and several resources have been moved to the end of today’s postings
Data Source: PDE via PSBA

Interboro SD
Southeast Delco SD
Philadelphia City SD
William Penn SD


Editorial: The verdict is in: Penn Wood team are champs
Delco Times Editorial March 29, 2019
Kids from Penn Wood High sometimes get a bad deal.
They toil in the William Penn School District, which just might be ground zero for everything that is wrong with the way Pennsylvania funds public education. For years students in William Penn have dealt with an uneven playing field, one in which they face a constant uphill battle, offered a lesser education for no reason other than their zip code It’s gotten so bad that several William Penn families have taken the lead in a lawsuit against the Commonwealth. The suit lays out in fairly stark terms what kids in William Penn are up against. It’s simple math really. Because the state does not hold up its end of the funding formula, local districts continue to depend on property taxes to foot the bills. That leaves districts with struggling, depressed economies at a decided disadvantage. A tax increase in a town with a ravaged tax base does not raise as much revenue as a similar hike just a few miles away with a thriving economy. A few years back, the state Legislature addressed the issue with a Fair Funding Formula, which reallocated money based more on a district’s need and other factors, such as the number of special education students, number of students with English as a second language and other factors. But even the Fair Funding Formula has an Achilles’ heel. It only pertains to new education funding, not the basic subsidy handed out by the state. That’s why William Penn families and others across the state are going to court. Today, a group of Penn Wood High kids also will be going to court, but a decidedly different kind of court. In the process, they show the mettle of Penn Wood kids, and at the same time shatter some wrong perceptions about who they are and what they are capable of achieving.

"Good schools and a good education really have a huge benefit for children’s economic outcomes in adulthood," Loeb said. "The problem is in Delaware County, and really all over the region, mandated costs from the state are just skyrocketing." The report noted that from 2010 to 2017, pension payments for Delaware County schools increased by $119 million, special education costs increased by $83 million and charter school payments saw a $36 million hike. In that same time period, state funding grew by $107 million, or $131 million short of these three expenses alone. "If nothing changes about this situation and if the state doesn't really step up its game pretty significantly in terms of the amount of funding they provide, districts are going to have to keep raising property taxes just to stay where they are," Loeb said. "That's an unsustainable situation."
Under Water: New PCCY study details struggle of Delco's middle class in making ends meet
LANSDOWNE — A family making $75,000 in Delaware County is having trouble keeping their heads above water, according to a new report released by Public Citizens for Children & Youth reported at a panel discussion Thursday. Last summer, the PCCY worked on a report evaluating the ability of working families in Delaware County to pay for child care, housing, food, health care, taxes, utilities and transportation, as well as the impact of educational funding on upward mobility. They plan to embark on similar analyses for Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. On Thursday, PCCY Executive Director Donna Cooper and David Loeb, one of the research authors of the report entitled "Underwater: What's Sinking Families in Delaware County" joined a panel including Phil Heron, executive editor of the Delaware County Daily Times; Joanne D. Craig, Vice President for Programs at the Foundation for Delaware County; Leigh Anne McKelvey, Executive Director of CASA Youth Advocates; and Suzanne J. O'Connor, director of education for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey in discussing the findings of the report. “We were pretty shocked to find that four in 10 families with children in Delaware County were basically under water," Cooper said. "That it costs more to raise their children than the income they have coming in.”

“Academic achievement and attendance are the central part of Catasauqua’s issues with the charter school. Since opening, Innovative Arts Academy’s state assessment scores have been among the lowest in the Lehigh Valley. Only about 21 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in English, compared with the 63 percent state average, according to the latest state assessment. Scores were worse for math, with only about 5 percent proficient or advanced, and for science with only 12.5 percent. The latest test dashboard rolled out by the state Education Department included a metric which could demonstrate not just the results of the tests, but whether students’ scores were improving. But Innovative Arts Academy students scored poorly on this aspect of the testing as well, accumulating the lowest score possible for growth indicators across all subjects.”
Innovative Arts Academy Charter School prepares to fight for survival
Sarah M. Wojcik Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 28, 2019
Asked when he began dancing, 13-year-old Jeriel Morales of Allentown, an eighth-grader at the Innovative Arts Academy Charter School, looks at his mother. “Since before I was born,” he said. Zulmari Rabelo laughs and tilts her head in acknowledgement, a slight shrug of her shoulders. It’s true. “His dad would put on the radio, blasting it in the car when I was pregnant,” she said and then smiled at her son. “And then he’d just be moving around all over the place in there.” At Innovative Arts Academy, Morales found a place to finally explore that passion. But now, Rabelo said, the future of her son’s schooling is uncertain. In less than three weeks, Innovative Arts Academy Charter School leadership will be making their case for charter renewal before the Catasauqua Area School Board during a special hearing.

What can Pennsylvania schools do to address the prevalence of trauma among students?
Penn Live Opinion By Mark Duffy and Rachel Comly Posted Mar 29, 9:33 AM
Mark Duffy is a Senior Research Associate and Rachel Comly is a Senior Research Analyst at Research for Action, a nonprofit education research organization based in Philadelphia. Learn more at
Childhood trauma is a widespread issue. According to Child Trends, nearly half of children in the United States and in Pennsylvania have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, which often leads to traumatic stress. Research is clear that traumatic stress in children can negatively impact cognitive, academic and behavioral outcomes. Yet schools are not equipped to address these problems. A recent ACLU report notes that 90 percent of U.S. public schools do not meet the minimum standards for providing adequate mental health staff (school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses)/ The report recommends school districts expand trauma-informed services and trainings. Research for Action’s new brief, Trauma-Informed Schools in Pennsylvania: Aligning Expansion with High-Quality Implementation, provides a pathway towards that goal. In it we highlight how “trauma-informed schools” work and provide recommendations for how to expand this approach to education.
What, exactly, is “trauma-informed school”?

To help cash-strapped district, Allentown Schools chief to take pay cut
Calling it a “symbolic message” for the cash-strapped Allentown School District, Superintendent Thomas Parker has volunteered to take a 1 percent pay cut — or $1,750 less. In a move that came as a surprise to the school board at Thursday’s meeting, Parker announced that he would reduce his salary starting in July. “There are tight sacrifices that have been made across the organization and no doubt more of that will come,” Parker said Friday morning. “As the leader, I think it’s my responsibility to step in at the front, and send that symbolic message that we’re all in this and we’re all committed.” Parker’s annual salary is $175,000. He said he had been thinking about taking a pay cut for awhile. The school district is expected to face a large deficit this year; Parker said the actual number should be known by next week. “I take being the leader very seriously,” Parker said. “If we’re tightening belts, then sending that message that my belt is tightened is important.” The district and school board are also negotiating a new contract for teachers. The current contract expires in June.

Monitor predicts no big changes to Erie schools’ plan
GoErie By Ed Palattella Posted at 2:01 AM
Charles Zogby, Erie School District’s state-appointed financial administrator, says revised plan likely to include outsourcing recommendation for janitors. The state-mandated plan to improve the Erie School District’s finances is getting revised. But its author said the plan is unlikely to get overhauled. That means that some of the report’s more attention-grabbing points, such as the recommendation that the school district consider outsourcing its janitorial services to save money, will remain when the Erie School Board gets the new draft of the plan within 60 days. “The substance of what I have laid out, my impression is that will not change,” said Charles Zogby, the school district’s state-appointed financial administrator.

Philly School District, others face cuts under proposed Trump budget
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: March 28, 2019- 4:43 PM
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has come under fire for proposing to slash funding to the Special Olympics. But her department’s budget contains other cuts that would affect school districts across the country, including Philadelphia’s. The Philadelphia School District expects it will have to spend an extra $22.5 million starting in 2021 to make up for cuts in the proposed federal education budget. The district receives more than $100 million in federal grant funds each year, according to its chief financial officer, Uri Monson. The federal money the district would lose under the Education Department’s proposal would go toward teacher professional development, “particularly around early literacy,” as well as music and foreign-language programs, Monson said. He said the district wouldn’t necessarily cut those programs but would fund them out of its operating budget — proposed to be more than $3.3 billion next year. Money for teacher development under Title II has been targeted by the Trump administration in the past (as well as by Obama’s administration, although it didn’t propose ending it). The funding cut, along with others previously proposed to the education budget, hasn’t passed Congress.

Hite says new budget represents stability, progress, and good fiscal stewardship
The fiscal 2019-20 budget includes some new investments, it is expected to end the year with a fund balance of nearly $130 million. Deficits are foreseen in fiscal 2022.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa March 28 — 4:11 pm, 2019
Update: At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Education called a recess after a raucous protestby the Philadelphia Student Union prompted by a board decision to mandate metal detectors in all District high schools. The school board reconvened privately in a committee room, where they passed the 2019-20 budget.   Public education activist Lisa Haver said the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools would challenge the vote as a Sunshine Act violation. “Governing bodies cannot recess in public and reconvene in private,” she tweeted after the meeting. “Votes have to be cast in public.”
The School District of Philadelphia’s proposed 2019-20 budget, benefiting from additional revenue from both the city and state, includes new investments such as more nurses, 30 additional teachers for English learners, 10 new college and career readiness coordinators, more behavioral health staff and counselors, and an extension of the early literacy initiative to the 5th grade. Superintendent William Hite and Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson touted the nearly $3.4 billion “lump sum” budget presented Thursday to the Board of Education as representing “fiscal stability” as the District continues to recover after a long stretch of austerity and cutbacks. The 2019-20 fiscal year will end with a fund balance of nearly $130 million, and five-year projections show that a funding shortfall is not anticipated until fiscal 2022.

Price tag for fixing all urgent Philly school building problems? $170M, union, lawmakers say
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: March 29, 2019- 4:46 PM
A group of state and local lawmakers and union leaders has done the math: It would cost $170 million, they said Friday, to remedy all the urgent health and safety problems inside the Philadelphia School District. The money would go to not just remove lead paint and asbestos problems underscored by The Inquirer’s reporting, but to replace leaky windows and roofs, install new heating systems, upgrade electrical service, and pay for more cleaners to ameliorate the rodent and bug problems that plague many city schools. Lawmakers, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that the money would have to come from state, local, and federal funds, but that they had no specific plan to get it. .

Activists shut down meeting after school board votes to mandate metal detectors in all Philly HS
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: March 28, 2019- 5:00 PM
First, the Philadelphia Board of Education voted 7-2 Thursday night to mandate metal detectors in all city high schools. Then, in an explosive twist, activists -- including students -- shut the meeting down.  “We do not recognize your vote, we do not recognize your legitimacy," Julien Terrell, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, a youth organizing group, shouted over board president Joyce Wilkerson. Wilkerson tried to continue the meeting, but Terrell persisted, while several school district and city police officers stood around him. After several minutes, and after Terrell had used profanity, Wilkerson recessed the meeting, leading the board out of the room. “Whose schools? Our schools!” the crowd chanted. It was by far the sharpest rebuke of the board since the district was returned to local control July 1, and perhaps the wildest meeting of any Philadelphia School District governing body since the SRC voted to shut two dozen schools in 2013. Arrests were made then. On Thursday night, despite heavy police presence, no one was arrested. Still, it seemed that the board’s honeymoon is over.

After clashing with school board members last year, Pennridge student is running to unseat them
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Updated: March 29, 2019- 12:48 PM
Last year, then-Pennridge High School senior Anna Sophie Tinneny clashed with the school board as a leader of an unauthorized school club to protest gun violence and a subsequent viral protest after 225 student protesters were given detention. This year, the 18-year-old Tinneny isn’t just fighting the school board. She’s running to join it. “It’s not revenge -- that’s not what it’s about,” said Tinneny, referring to her run in the May primary for one of five available seats on the nine-member board. But she said that after the turmoil over the gun-violence walkout, “I realized maybe these [incumbents] aren’t the best people to be making decisions on the community and our children’s education.” Tinneny’s campaign, helped by Sean Jenkins, another recent Pennridge grad and leader of the protest that became known as the Pennridge 225, puts her at the forefront of young people rising from the resurgence of activism over issues such as gun violence and climate change and now looking toward electoral politics.

Marciene Mattleman, 89, a feisty and unrelenting advocate for Philadelphia’s children
Inquirer by Andrew Maykuth, Updated: March 30, 2019
Marciene Mattleman, 89. a feisty advocate for Philadelphia’s children who created a legacy of programs to promote literacy and after-school activities, died Friday, March 29, after a four-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. “No one in this city has done more for the schoolchildren of Philadelphia and our region than Marciene Mattleman,” former Gov. Ed Rendell said in 2015 when she retired as board chair of After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP), one of the organizations she created. Mrs. Mattleman began her career as a sixth-grade teacher in Philadelphia, then earned a Ph.D. in education, writing her dissertation at night when her three children were sleeping. She worked as an education professor at Temple University.

Calling all Norristown parents, educators, leaders & stakeholders! Join us for Norristown Parents & Students for Education on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Norristown Public Library.
Together we can harness the power of all to make a difference in our schools and communities! Hear from the experts and learn how to advocate! Free breakfast & givewaways. Don't miss out!
Sponsored by Norristown Men of Excellence, The Urban League of Philadelphia & PA Schools Work.

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Announces Public Event: Poverty’s Impact on Early Literacy featuring Donna Cooper, Johnstown, PA— April 2nd 2019
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown welcomes Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Donna Cooper on April 2nd, 2019 at 6 PM to speak on the topic of “Poverty’s Impact on Early Literacy.” All are welcome to attend this public event as Donna Cooper and many other guest respondents will be in attendance. This panel of local experts include The University of Pittsburgh’s faculty members, Michael Vuckovich and Dr. Jackie Myers, as well as CEO of United Way of the Laurel Highlands, Bill McKinney and Director of Nurse-Family Partnership of Blair County, Lisa Ritchey. Topics to be discussed will range from Poverty’s Impact on Early Literacy, personal experiences within school systems, United Way’s goal on eliminating the literacy gap, and also how nurses are going into the homes of mothers in poverty helping them develop. The event will be held at the John P. Murtha Center located at the UPJ Campus. This event will begin at 6 PM and end around 8 PM. Pre-Registration through Google Forms is encouraged, but not required. All are welcome to walk-in the night of April 2nd to enjoy this meaningful event. 

The League of Women Voters of Delaware County and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit present: EPLC 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates (and Incumbents) April 27th 8am – 4:30pm at DCIU
Ron Cowell of The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional full day workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.
Date & Time: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 8am to 4:30pm
Location: Delaware County Intermediate Unit, 200 Yale Ave. Morton, PA
Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. Registration is $75 (payable by credit card) and includes coffee and pastries, lunch, and materials. For questions contact Adriene Irving at 610-938-9000 ext. 2061.
To register, please visit

PSBA: Nominations for the Allwein Society are welcome!
The Allwein Society is an award program recognizing school directors who are outstanding leaders and advocates on behalf of public schools and students. This prestigious honor was created in 2011 in memory of Timothy M. Allwein, a former PSBA staff member who exemplified the integrity and commitment to advance political action for the benefit of public education. Nominations are accepted year-round and inductees will be recognized at the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, among other honors.

PSBA: 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.

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 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

PSBA 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.

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.

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

PSBA Tweet March 12, 2019 Video Runtime: 6:40
In this installment of #VideoEDition, learn about legislation introduced in the PA Senate & House of Representatives that would save millions of dollars for school districts that make tuition payments for their students to attend cyber charter schools. 

PSBA Summaries of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform

PSBA Sample Board Resolution in Support of Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 256

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

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

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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