Friday, April 26, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup April 26, 2019 HB800: According to DCED, in FY16-17, Episcopal Academy, an elite main line private school in suburban Philadelphia, received $956,603 in diverted tax dollars through the EITC program

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.

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Happy Friday! Just a heads-up that there will be no PA Ed Policy Roundup on Monday since we will be joining over 200 school leaders for Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg.  Hope to see you there!

On the commentary front, on Monday the House Ed Committee is slated to vote on HB800, a massive expansion of private and religious school vouchers through the EITC and OSTC tax credit programs, currently funded up to $210 million annually.

Some lawmakers believe that providing an additional $100 million per year to pay wealthy families’ private school tuition bills in places that they don’t represent is more important than putting $100 million in additional funding through the Legislature’s funding formula to fund schools in their own legislative districts.

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 Ed Committee member .@RepMadden’s school districts in Monroe County had to send over $11.3 million to chronically underperforming cybers that they never authorized. #SB34 (Schwank) or #HB526 (Sonney) could change that.
Data source: PDE via .@PSBA

East Stroudsburg Area SD
Pocono Mountain SD
Stroudsburg Area SD


Links to additional bill information and several resources have been moved to the end of today’s postings
Has your state senator cosponsored SB34?

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

In face of parents’ objections, Philly school board holds off charter school moving to East Falls
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna and Kristen A. Graham, Updated: April 25, 2019- 10:44 PM
The Philadelphia Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to indefinitely postpone a decision on a proposed move by Laboratory Charter School to East Falls. The School District had recommended the relocation, which it said would benefit the charter financially. But it was hotly contested by East Falls parents who said the school never informed the community of its plans, and questioned why another charter was being permitted to open in a neighborhood where the traditional public elementary school has available seats. Board president Joyce Wilkerson said the move’s benefits to the charter students, staff, and families were clear. But, she said, “it is equally clear that there has not been enough planning and thought put into making sure this move will work for the community into which this school intends to locate." “We intend to operate one system of public schools. We cannot look at each decision in isolation,” Wilkerson said at the board meeting. She proposed delaying the decision to gather additional information about the charter’s intended relocation, including its potential impact on Thomas Mifflin Elementary. The board’s vote was unanimous. It had received a petition with more than 600 signatures and heard testimony against the charter’s relocation.

Allentown School Board says ‘no’ to borrowing money for broke district
The Allentown School Board has voted against the cash-strapped district borrowing $10 million to stay afloat this year, a move in which Superintendent Thomas Parker warned could lead to layoffs. Thursday night, the board voted 4-4 on adding $10 million to a bond the board was already planning on taking out for the $43 million elementary school being built on 12th and Gordon streets. Board President Audrey Mathison was absent. Because the vote was a tie, the motion to take out a loan failed. Directors Lisa Conover, Cheryl Johnson-Watts, Robert E. Smith Jr. and Phoebe Harris voted against borrowing money. Board vice president Elizabeth Martinez and directors Sara Brace, Charlie Thiel and Ce-Ce Gerlach voted to borrow money. At a special meeting Monday night that lasted almost five hours, district administrators said they were $7.6 million in the hole for this school year because of spending more on salaries than was budgeted. The district wanted the board to approve adding $10 million on a $25 million bond for the elementary school. That extra money would be used for paying pension obligations and for offsetting the 2019-20 deficit which is $28 million.

State suspends $10M in funding to Harrisburg schools
ABC27 By: Sarah Gisriel  Posted: Apr 24, 2019 06:12 PM EDT Updated: Apr 24, 2019 11:26 PM
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - About $10 million in federal funding to the Harrisburg School District has been suspended amid an ongoing audit by the state Department of Education. The school district said the move came after a meeting Wednesday when it received a list of 14 unanswered information requests. The district agreed to comply with 13 of 14 information requests within 48 hours, which was extended to six days by the Education Department. At the end of the meeting, the Education Department informed the district that the federal funding was already suspended two hours before the meeting began. The school district said the suspended funds represent about six percent of its $150 million in annual revenues. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he was "deeply troubled" by a school board vote on April 15 to not cooperate with the audit, which began last October.

Tax increase ahead in next U.D. schools budget
UPPER DARBY— School taxes will go up again in Upper Darby for the next school year.
A proposed final budget of $213.1 million with an $8.86 million deficit may be supported by a 3 percent tax increase if current figures holdover to a final vote by the school board in June. The increase is lower than the 3.4 that was approved in the 2018-19 budget, then the highest such increase since the 2012-13 budget of 3.5 percent. The proposed 3 percent tax increase will bump the tax bill by $84 for an averagely assessed home of $75,000, and bringing in a total $3.2 million of revenue to the district. On top of the tax increase $5.7 million of fund balance is projected to be used to cover the remaining shortfall. As they did for the 2018-19 budget, .5 percent of the increase will generate $500,000 in funds for its capital reserves budget for school improvements. Salary and benefits account for $150 million, or 70 percent, of the total budget which includes staffing requests for one lead teacher at the kindergarten center, two instructional technology coaches and six classroom assistants at Highland Park Elementary school. Five elementary guidance counselor positions will be supported through federal Title 1 funds. Local sources will account for $112 million of the $207.4 million in revenue sources, the state contributing the next largest chunk at $84 million.

Rural districts say state should reform school security funding
WJAC by Marshall Keely Wednesday, April 24th 2019
BELLWOOD, Pa. (WJAC) -- Security is a top priority for school districts throughout the state, but districts in rural areas say they are often at a disadvantage when funding upgrades to school security. They're now asking the state to make a change. "Safety is the number No. 1 concern. If we don't have that under control the learning can't happen,” said Danny Webb, superintendent of the Everett Area School District. Security upgrades can put schools in rural areas in a financial bind. Many are forced to apply for state grants to assure student's safety. "We only have a limited amount of resources and we need to be thoughtful and help expend those resources,” said Dr. Thomas McInroy, superintendent of the Bellwood-Antis School District. "A lot of the rural districts and smaller school districts do not have the resources to go after these grants that are very cumbersome,” Webb said. Webb says smaller districts don't have the funding to hire grant writers, so superintendents take on the daunting task. "Larger districts or districts that have full-time grant writers have an advantage,” he said.

Springfield Delco HS alum donates $1 million to honor his lunch lady mom, bus-driver mother-in-law
Inquirer by Kathy Boccella, Updated: April 25, 2019- 7:59 PM
Maybe you’ve watched a game at the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School or followed the recent fuss in Abington — home to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Stadium, but where a proposal to rename the entire senior high school for Schwarzman fell flat.  But in 2020, the future NBA Hall of Famer and President Donald Trump’s billionaire friend and adviser will get some unlikely competition in the arena of school naming rights. That’s when the new, $130 million Springfield High School will open its doors in Delaware County boasting the Frances “Chickie” Giuffre Dining Center Complex and the Katherine G. “Kay” Voglesong Bus Driver Commons Room. You may have never heard of those women, but they were legends of a sort to the parade of baby boomers and Gen X’ers who passed through Springfield’s corridors in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Giuffre was known to all as the district’s “Cafeteria Mom,” who whipped up a killer soup every day, while Voglesong was the take-no-guff driver of Bus No. 7, who told you to put down the water gun or else.

8 ways to teach climate change in almost any classroom
WHYY/NPR By Anya Kamenetz April 26, 2019
NPR/Ipsos conducted a national poll recently and found that more than 8 in 10 teachers — and a similar majority of parents — support teaching kids about climate change. But in reality, it’s not always happening: Fewer than half of K-12 teachers told us that they talk about climate change with their children or students. Again, parents were about the same. The top reason that teachers gave in our poll for not covering climate change? “It’s not related to the subjects I teach,” 65% said. Yet at the same time, we also heard from teachers and education organizations who are introducing the topic in subjects from social studies to math to English language arts, and at every grade level, from preschool on up. Source: NPR/Ipsos polls of 505 teachers conducted March 21-29. The credibility interval for the overall sample is 5 percentage points. This question was asked of the 55% of teachers who said that they do not teach climate change. Respondents could select up to three answers. “Other” and “Don’t know” responses not shown (Alyson Hurt/NPR) That raises the question: Where does climate change belong in the curriculum, anyway? The “reality of human-caused climate change” is mentioned in at least 36 state standards, according to an analysis done for NPR Ed by Glenn Branch, the deputy director at the National Center for Science Education. But it typically appears only briefly — and most likely just in earth science classes in middle and high school. And, Branch says, that doesn’t even mean that every student in those states learns about it: Only two states require students to take earth or environmental science classes to graduate from high school.

School Funding Briefing Thursday, May 23, 2019 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Drexel Hill Middle School, 3001 State Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026
In 2019, the Public Interest Law Center is celebrating 50 years of fighting for justice, and preparing for 50 more, through a series of 50th anniversary events.
As part of this series, the Upper Darby School Board is pleased to host the Public Interest Law Center at Drexel Hill Middle School on Thursday, May 23rd, for a School Funding Briefing.
Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap in the country between low-wealth and high-wealth school districts. Pennsylvania is also ranked 46th in the share of funding that comes from the state, leaving local taxpayers to take on rising costs. How did we get here? At the briefing, you will learn the basics of education funding and how it works in Pennsylvania, as well as ways you can get involved in advocacy for fully funded public education. You will also learn about the latest developments in the Law Center's school funding lawsuit.
Afterward, you will have a chance to meet Law Center attorneys working on this landmark case, as well as mingle with other interested in Pennsylvania education.

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

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:

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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