Tuesday, April 16, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 16: In 2016-17, taxpayers in House Majority Whip Kerry Benninghoff’s school districts in Centre & Mifflin Counties had to send over $1.9 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized.

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 http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

Join @PAIU @PasaSupts & @PSBA for Advocacy Day on April 29th at the state Capitol! The focus for the day will be meetings with legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education.
For more information and registration: https://t.co/Nth5oGZH19

Warren County School board votes for cyber charter school funding overhaul
Times Observer by Lorri Drumm Staff Reporter ldrumm@timesobserver.com Apr 9, 2019
Warren County school board members sent a united message to Harrisburg at Monday’s board meeting — find a better way to fund cyber charter schools.
Board members voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526 that support school districts who provide their own cyber learning program and reforms funding for cyber charter schools statewide. Board President Donna Zariczny said that one bill stipulates if a school district has its own cyber program and a student chooses to go elsewhere that tuition is not funded. The other bill deals with how cyber charter schools are funded and has been addressed in the past. “It’s good to reestablish our numbers because they change over time,” she said. Resolution 19-04-02 states that it is: “a resolution petitioning the Pennsylvania General Assembly to take immediate action to correct the tuition expenses paid for regular and special education students to cyber charter schools so that it is based on the actual costs of education their students and relieves the financial burden on school districts and local taxpayers.”
With the exception of the 2016-17 school year, the district has spent more than $1 million each year in total tuition payments to cyber schools. The total tuition payment for the 2016-17 school year was $977,795. This year’s figures are $852,195 in regular education payments for cyber schools and $500,548 in special education for a total of $1,352,743. According to the resolution, the current funding formula for cyber charter schools is based on school district expenditures with no relationship to the actual instructional costs of the students attending a charter school.
The current charter school payment system causes school districts to overpay for special education costs, with charter schools receiving a $100 million windfall that is growing.

Whitehall-Coplay School board approves cyber school resolutions
At the Whitehall-Coplay School Board meeting April 8, board members voted to approve a resolution supporting Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526. “Since Whitehall-Coplay School District does provide our own cyber program, Whitehall-Coplay Virtual Learning Program, our district would save approximately $600,000 in the 2019-20 budget were these bills to pass,” WCSD Superintendent Dr. Lorie Hackett said. Though WCSD has its own program, the district and local taxpayers are currently paying for WCSD students to attend other cyber schools. The resolution emphasizes that most Pennsylvania cyber schools place in the bottom 5 percent for educational performance and have lower-than-average graduation rates, while district-run cyber programs offer high-quality curriculum, appropriately certified teachers, various support such as tutoring and career counseling, and extracurricular activities. According to the resolution, “Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526 support school districts that provide their own cyber charter school, enabling them to retain critical funding in the district for the benefit of all students.” A second resolution, Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform, was also approved.

Sayre School Board formalizes support for cyber charter tuition reform
The Daily Review By MATT HICKS Editor-in-Chief April 16, 2019
Sayre School Board Vice President Ron Cole talks about the costs of cyber charter schools on the school district before reading a resolution that called on lawmakers to support reform to these tuition costs. The Sayre School Board approved a resolution Monday, formalizing its support for reform to the cyber charter school tuition costs currently shouldered by school districts.

Tyrone Area School Board officially accepts superintendent's retirement, calls for cyber charter reform
Last night at the regular session meeting of the Tyrone Area School Board, board members officially received Superintendent Cathy Harlow and physical plant supervisor Thomas Muir’s retirements effective June 30, 2019, as reported in an article last Wednesday.

Greater Latrobe SB discusses cyber charter reform, teacher retirements
BY GREG REINBOLD Latrobe Bulletin Staff Writer April 10, 2019

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, taxpayers in House Majority Whip Kerry Benninghoff’s school districts in Centre and Mifflin Counties had to send over $1.9 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized. #SB34 (Schwank) or #HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Data source: PDE via .@PSBA
Links to additional bill information and several resources have been moved to the end of today’s postings

Bellefonte Area SD
Mifflin County SD
Penns Valley Area SD
State College Area SD


Has your state senator cosponsored SB34?

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

Educators fill Philly City Council calling for end to 10-year tax abatement
“Instead of lining the pockets of supposed condo-kings and wannabe real estate moguls, that money should be going to our children’s education," said Erica Almeron.
The notebook by Greg Windle April 15 — 8:00 pm, 2019
Kathleen Melville testifies before City Council about toxic conditions in her school, while inviting them to tour every school. She offers Council a fan, which they will need in most schools due to a lack of air conditioning. Teachers and parents stormed City Council during budget hearings today to present thousands of petition signatures demanding the city end the ten-year real estate tax abatement and use that new revenue to repair toxic conditions in the city’s schools. They called for hearings on all five bills currently before Council that would  end or curtail the abatement. “The ten-year tax abatement has allowed wealthy developers to line their pockets while starving our schools of tax revenue they desperately need,” said Kathleen Melville, a 10thgrade teacher at the Workshop School in West Philadelphia and organizer with the Working Educator caucus. She gifted each council member a small fan. “We would like to invite you to spend a day in one of our classrooms this spring,” Melville told Council in her testimony. “And since we know that you are used to offices that have air conditioning, we are providing you with these necklace fans so that you’ll be ready to join us in one of our many, many classrooms that do not have air conditioning.” The abatement currently exempts $61 million in tax revenue that would go to the city’s schools, and another $50 million that would go into the city’s budget.

Cancel your tax abatement, help Philly schools, and check your privilege | Opinion
Inquirer Opinion by Alison Stohr Updated: April 15, 2019 - 9:30 AM
We are an educator and an organizer in the labor movement, respectively. Both of us were born in the Philly area, and both have us have lived elsewhere. But we both found our way back here, and have settled down in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia. And, because we both bought rehabbed rowhouses, we both have 10-year tax abatements. Or, at least, we did. Our paid work and volunteer organizing in our neighborhood and beyond have shown us that there is intense inequality all over the world, including here in Philadelphia, and especially in Point Breeze. A quarter of Philadelphians live in poverty, and 14 percent live in deep poverty. But if you watch the development in the city, you may not know it. On almost every block in our neighborhood, new houses are being built. In many ways, that’s great: Our city is growing, and we need to provide housing that keeps up with interest in our wonderful, far-too-forgotten city. But the vast majority of new housing is being built for the wealthy. And in our neighborhood, the only homes being built or rehabbed are unaffordable for the average Philadelphian. A new development, 2100 Kimball, will provide 40 luxury townhouses at the edge of Graduate Hospital. The starting price is $975,000, and each home comes with a 10-year tax abatement. The idea that someone who purchases a million-dollar home needs or deserves a tax break is laughable.

Elanco approves hot-button bathroom and locker room policy despite constitutionality concerns
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer April 16, 2019
During a tense, three-hour meeting Monday night, the Eastern Lancaster County school board approved a policy that intends to bolster privacy for all of the district’s students. The policy, dubbed “Physical Privacy,” calls for what will most likely be a multimillion-dollar project to replace boys and girls restrooms and locker rooms with secure, single-user, gender-neutral facilities districtwide. It was crafted by a four-member committee of the board that was formed in January in response to a public outcry over the district’s decision to allow a transgender student who identifies as male to use the boys facilities at Garden Spot High School. The school board, in front of about 300 residents in attendance, voted 6-2 in favor of the policy. One board member was absent.  Some school board members — Vice President Rodney Jones, in particular — expressed concern over an addendum in the policy that would essentially reverse the district’s previous decision to accommodate the transgender student. “While the renovation plan for the facilities is being reviewed and executed,” the addendum states, “we recommend that where ever we cannot provide private single user facilities when changing or using the bathroom facilities, the students are to use the facilities based on their biological sex.” Jones said the district could be at-risk of a lawsuit due to the addendum’s recommendation that students use the facilities based on their biological sex rather than their gender identity.

Mighty Writers brings mindfulness training to its students
In addition to bringing calm and self-awareness, the practice unleashes curiosity, according to Amy Perez.
The notebook by Maya Wernick April 15 — 10:40 am, 2019
Mindfulness is a buzzword used more and more frequently in youth programs, but what does it really mean? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mindfulness as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something,” but for Amy Perez, the new mindfulness director at Mighty Writers, it is a lot more than that. “For me, mindfulness is a way of being. While it can be defined as a tool to help with mental focus, presence, and awareness, mindfulness also embodies the presence of the body. Being mindful means being present, in the moment, and not being overly reactive or getting overwhelmed with things in the past or future,” Perez said. Mighty Writers is an after-school program that offers free writing programs to neighborhood children, from toddlers to teenagers. It has seven locations — six in the greater Philadelphia area and one in Camden, New Jersey. Mighty Writers uses practices such as journaling, yoga, and meditation during its programs to help the students focus. “The kids come in to us during after-school hours, or after 3 p.m., and when they are coming in from a long day of school and being there for eight hours, they tend to come in scattered,” said Perez. She says that the mindfulness helps to make the students “a bit happier” and “enhances their views of the world around them.” The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is a national, not-for-profit organization aiming “to improve the lives of a generation of children and young people by making a genuine, positive difference to their mental health and well being.” MiSP says that mindfulness can be used to help reduce stress and prevent recurrent depression.

Ohio School Districts Sue Facebook Over Failed Online Charter School
Education Week By Doug Livingston, The Akron Beacon Journal April 14, 2019
Cuyahoga Falls, Woodridge and six other Ohio school districts are suing Facebook for about $250,000 in public education funding lost when the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow imploded last year. The districts, which may never be made whole for state funding they lost when ECOT inflated attendance, are alleging that Facebook knew the online charter school was financially failing when it sold ads to help ECOT boost enrollment. That, under Ohio law, would be an illegal and “fraudulent transfer.” Founded in 2000, ECOT grew to be the largest charter school in Ohio, claiming 15,239 students enrolled in 2016 when the Ohio Department of Education ran an attendance audit. The virtual headcount found students spending as little as an hour a day on home computers. But the state was funding the charter school, using tax dollars diverted from local school districts, as if kids were attending full time. The attendance scandal forced ECOT founder Bill Lager, who had donated $2.1 million to school choice supporters, to return $2.5 million monthly until taxpayers got back the $80 million the school overbilled the state in just 2016 and 2017. ECOT folded in January 2018 before making the first repayment.

Rewarding Failure
An Education Week Investigation of the Cyber Charter Industry
With growing evidence that the nation's cyber charter schools are plagued by serious academic and management problems, Education Wee kconducted a months-long investigation into what is happening in this niche sector of K-12 schooling. The result is a deep-dive account of what's wrong with cyber charters. Education Week uncovered exclusive data on how rarely students use the learning software at Colorado’s largest cyber charter, the questionable management practices in online charters, and how lobbying in scores of states helps keep the sector growing.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50: 'It's [a] Message of Hope,' Says Author Eric Carle
The book has sold more than 50 million copies in 62 languages worldwide
People By Kate Hogan  March 20, 2019 11:43 AM
If you ask author Eric Carle, he can’t quite tell you why The Very Hungry Caterpillar is still so popular today. “I believe most children can identify with the helpless, small, insignificant caterpillar, and they rejoice with it when it turns into a beautiful butterfly,” he muses to PEOPLE. “It is an affirmation to all children. It says: I too can grow up. I too can unfold my wings and fly into the world. I think it’s this message of hope.” That hope has turned into success some can only dream of: The Very Hungry Caterpillar turns 50 this year, and since its release has been translated into 62 languages, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide. “It is very moving to me that my books have been enjoyed by generations of readers,” 89-year-old Carle says. “The storyline is surprisingly universal.”

Diane Ravitch Speaking at Penn State Harrisburg April 25th at 7:00 p.m.
777 West Harrisburg Pike, Harrisburg, PA
Mukund S. Kulkarni Theatre, Student Enrichment Center
Join Diane Ravitch as she presents "The End of the Faux Reform Movement." Ravitch is the author of the national bestseller "Reign of Error The Hoax of the Privatization Movement" and the "Danger to America’s Public Schools." There will be a book signing opportunity after the event.
For more information, contact Dr. Hannah Spector at hms22@psu.edu.

Electing PSBA Officers – Application Deadline is May 31st
Do you have strong communication and leadership skills and a vision for PSBA? Members interested in becoming the next leaders of PSBA are encouraged to submit an Application for Nomination no later than May 31 to PSBA's Leadership Development Committee (LDC).
The nomination process: All persons seeking nomination for elected positions of the Association shall file with the Leadership Development Committee chairperson an Application for Nomination (.PDFon a form to be provided by the Association expressing interest in the office sought. The Application for nomination shall be marked received at PSBA Headquarters or mailed first class and postmarked no later than the application deadline specified in the timeline established by the Governing Board to be considered timely-filed.” (PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 6.E.). Application Deadline: May 31, 2019
Open positions are:

Success Starts Here is a multi-year public awareness campaign sharing positive news in PA public education.

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.

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 PSBA.org 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 Jamie.Zuvich@psba.org  Register for Advocacy Day now at http://www.mypsba.org/
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 alysha.newingham@psba.org or call her at (717) 506-2450, ext. 3420

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.