Monday, June 10, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 10, 2019 While proposed public ed increases won’t cover mandated cost hikes, PA General Assembly focuses on how much new funding to throw at the Legislature’s pet private school scholarship 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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How much could your school district and taxpayers save if there were statewide flat cyber 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

After huge demand, state senator wants Pa. to budget $125 million for school safety grants
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison June 7, 2019
When Pennsylvania lawmakers created a school safety grant program last year, school administrators jumped at the chance to fund new equipment, security personnel, and student mental health services. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which administers the School Safety and Security Grant Program, received $330 million in grant requests, a spokesperson said Wednesday. But it had just a little over $40 million to dole out. Sen. Mike Regan, who spearheaded the state’s school safety program last year, said those figures show how desperately districts across Pennsylvania need money to secure their campuses. That’s why Regan, R-Cumberland, wants the state to increase funding for two grant programs to $125 million in the new fiscal year, which starts on July 1. He’d like to see $100 million of that allocation go to the School Safety and Security Grant Program, and $25 million to the Department of Education’s Safe Schools grants. Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed funding those programs at $45 million and $10 million, respectively, in the state’s 2019-20 budget. But Regan said that’s not nearly enough money to meet the demand among Pennsylvania’s schools. “I’m trying to make a within-reason request,” Regan said during an interview in his Capitol office Wednesday. But given the $330 million in requests last year, the current funding level “is short.”

“Private school scholarships: House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, has asked for – and the House approved – $100 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program that gives tax credits to businesses that donate to private school scholarship programs. Additionally, his plan includes an automatic escalator that would increase the tax credit funding by 10% in any year that 90% of the credits are claimed. Supporters of this popular program consider that large of an increase to be unrealistic but most expect to see a smaller, but still substantial, increase above the $160 million in tax credits currently available to scholarship-donating businesses. Turzai’s proposal also seeks to open the scholarship programs to more families by raising the maximum income eligibility threshold from $85,000 to $95,000, plus $15,608 per child.”
Will Pa. pass a budget on time? Battles loom over raising minimum wage, spending increases
Gov. Tom Wolf could find the first budget of his second term to be the easiest one yet.
The state’s revenue picture looks rosier than it has in recent years with revenues now standing at $813 million above what was anticipated. Even when adjusted for the unplanned spending and revenue sources that didn’t come in, there is still money left on the table. On top of that, there’s no request for a tax increase to help pay for the 2019-20 budget. Plus, there’s a universal desire to stash some money away in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which is anticipated to have a balance of $23 million at the end of this month. Given those factors, the perennial quest to have a budget done by the time the fiscal year ends on June 30 appears to be something all sides believe is achievable, including Wolf. “I’m hoping we hit that deadline, if not before,” he said. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, sounded more confident the deadline will easily be met, but added, “people gotta be in the right spirit to make that happen.” But there are always fights in June and particularly so when you have a divided government with a Democrat in the governor’s office and Republicans controlling both the House and Senate. There’s the dispute over raising the minimum wage, whether and how to continue to continue cash assistance to poor people, and how much new funding to throw at the Legislature’s pet private school scholarship program.

I had a thick head of hair when I wrote this .@PhillyInquirer commentary on cyber charter accountability in May 2007. Not much has changed in 12 years while we've wasted millions (billions?) in tax dollars and failed to educate most cyber students.
Tweet from @lfeinberg on June 8, 2019

Has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

“It took the state six years to finally develop a new basic education funding formula. Much has been written about one major problem with the new formula—that lawmakers only use it to drive out new revenues appropriated since 2016, leaving the non-formula portion of state funding (about 90% of the total line item) grandfathered in perpetuity. Another problem with the new formula is that it only determines how to distribute whatever new funding the legislature decides to appropriate. Unlike the old formula, it doesn’t tell law makers how much funding districts need.  It doesn’t calculate adequacy targets.”
Why Pa. needs a new statewide costing-out study for public education | Opinion
Commentary By David Lapp  Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributor June 9, 2019
It’s budget season and public education comprises the largest single portion of Pennsylvania’s state budget. So what does it actually cost for schools to meet the educational needs of students?  How much should the state be contributing to those costs compared to local communities? For a brief time in recent history, Pennsylvania policymakers asked those questions. The state even answered them based on objective evidence.  And, at least in part, state budget decisions were made accordingly. The reason this happened was because in 2007, the Pennsylvania General Assembly commissioned a statewide “costing-out” study for education funding.  These kinds of studies have been conducted by dozens of states and help to remove politics from a state budget process. Pennsylvania’s study became the foundation of a basic education funding formula that calculated “adequacy targets” for each district. These targets were used to drive out substantial new state revenues. However, after only three years, the Corbet administration slashed nearly all the new funding and abolished the old formula. The 2010-2011 school year was the last time that the Pennsylvania Department of Education calculated adequacy targets.

It’s Pa. budget season. All Philly can do is hope for the best. | John Baer
Inquirer by John Baer @jbaernews | Updated: 34 minutes ago
Our “full-time” legislature’s annual rush to start its long vacation of 2½ months is underway in Harrisburg. Knowing how much taxpayers love and respect (and pay for) our legislature — this year, $340 million — now seems a good time for a progress report on passing a new state budget.  Basically, it’s going well. For them. Not necessarily for you. Or the greater needs of city and state. Still, a no-new-taxes, on-time plan seems likely by the new fiscal year, which starts July 1. The economy is good. Tax collection is up. There’s a fat $813 million surplus. And despite a divided government, no make-or-break issue to lock Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in the ideological cage match they’ve waged in recent years. Doesn’t mean there’s no contention. There is. Especially impacting Philadelphia. City lawmakers want to hike the minimum wage as a way to fight Philly poverty. And they seek to save from the chopping block a small aid program for some of the city’s (and the state’s) most vulnerable citizens.

Strong schools lead to healthy housing markets, panelists say
Bucks County Courier Times By Chris English Posted Jun 8, 2019 at 8:50 AM
Lawmakers, real estate professionals and others said more state funding for education would help lower-performing school districts and thus boost home sales and the tax bases for those districts. More state funding for public education would help strengthen lower-performing school districts and make them more attractive for prospective home buyers, state lawmakers, real estate professionals and others said during a press conference and panel discussion in Doylestown Township Thursday. And that would strengthen residential sales and tax bases in those communities, those who spoke at the event added. The gathering held at the Keller Williams Real Estate office was organized by the nonprofit ReadyNation, an advocate on various educational, job market and other issues. The group has prepared a new report “Real Estate Markets Thrive when PA Schools Work,” which was handed out at Thursday’s event. Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the country in its financial support of K-12 public education and 48th in its support of higher education, state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield said. “That’s nothing short of a disgrace,” he said. “Gov. Wolf has placed a high priority on more funding during his administration, but it’s not enough. We need to do more. When school systems struggle, parents don’t want to send their children there and housing markets fall through the floor.” Add your voices to those calling for more state educational funding, Santarsiero urged those attending Thursday’s event.

Man in charge during last state takeover of Harrisburg schools supports another one
Penn Live By Sean Sauro | Updated Jun 8, 2019; Posted Jun 7, 2019
A court date has been scheduled, and now those with stakes in the Harrisburg School District are waiting to see if their local schools will fall under state control. It wouldn’t be the first time that the district has been taken over by outside leadership. And on Friday, Gerald Kohn — the man who led the district under former Mayor Stephen R. Reed’s rule — weighed in on the circumstances that he feels are necessary to ensure success under state control. “I think there is real opportunity with state receivership,” Kohn said, speaking in favor of the proposed state takeover, which was initiated by state Department of Education officials amid ongoing poor academic and financial performance in the district. According to Kohn, success means giving the state-appointed leadership time and money needed to set up a system based on best practices and academic research. That is all while insulating its new leadership from political pressures that he blamed for creating many of the ongoing issues that have plagued the district, both academically and financially. One thing’s for sure, his former deputy superintendent Julie Botel said, “it’s not going to be quick.”

Black leaders ask: Is Phila. School District ‘targeting’ minority-led charters?
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: June 9, 2019
Eastern University Charter School is facing closure by the Philadelphia School District after repeatedly under-performing on standardized tests, compared with the district and other charter schools. During one year, none of its seventh or eighth graders tested proficient in math. But CEO Omar Barlow says the school is succeeding in other ways. Nearly three-quarters of its students went to college in the fall after graduating last year, compared with just half of the district’s, and the percentage was even lower for the comprehensive high schools Barlow says his students would have otherwise attended. He sees a different reason for his school’s nonrenewal. Barlow, who is black and whose school’s enrollment is 95 percent black, says he believes race was a factor. “What else could they be targeting, when a number of traditional public schools that our young people would attend if we closed are failing miserably?" Over the last five years, nine of 14 Philadelphia charter schools that have closed or agreed to close if they didn’t meet conditions were minority-run, according to district officials. Four of five pending nonrenewal earlier this year were minority-run — defined by the district as having a black or Latino CEO at the time of its closure recommendation.

PA Education Leaders to Hold Advocacy Day 2019 in Harrisburg June 18th
PA Principals Association Press Release June 5th, 2019
(Harrisburg, PA) — A delegation of principals, education leaders and staff from the Pennsylvania Principals Association, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) will participate in PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2019 (#paadvocacyday19) on Tuesday, June 18 at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa., to meet with legislators to address several important issues that are at the forefront of education in the commonwealth. These include: Increasing Basic Education Funding/Special Education Funding/Early Childhood Funding; Revising Act 82: Principal and Teacher Evaluations; Supporting Pre-K Education; Supporting Changes to Pennsylvania’s Compulsory School Attendance Ages; and Supporting and Funding Career and Technical Education.

PA League of Women Voters 2019 Convention Registration
Crowne Plaza in Reading June 21-23, 2019
May 22, 2019 – Deadline to get special room rates at Crowne Plaza Hotel 
                            Book Hotel or call: 1 877 666 3243
May 31, 2019 – Deadline to register as a delegate for the Convention
June 7, 2019 – Deadline to register for the Convention

PA Schools Work Capitol Caravan Days Wed. June 5th and Tues. June 18th
If you couldn’t make it to Harrisburg last week, it’s not too late. We are getting down to the wire. In a few short weeks, the budget will likely be passed. Collectively, our voices have a larger impact to get more funding for Pennsylvania’s students. Legislators need to hear from you!  
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will be at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 5th and Tuesday, June 18th  for our next PA Schools Work caravan days. We’d love to have you join us on these legislative visits. For more details about the caravans and to sign up, go to: . Please call Tomea Sippio-Smith at (O) 215-563-5848, ext. 36 or (C) 215-667-9421 or Shirlee Howe at (O) 215-563-5848, ext. 34 or (C) 215-888-8297 with any questions or specific requests for legislative meetings. 

2019 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-18, 2019
WHERE: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16 to Friday, October 18, 201
Registration is now open!
Growth from knowledge acquired. Vision inspired by innovation. Impact created by a synergized leadership community. You are called upon to be the drivers of a thriving public education system. It’s a complex and challenging role. Expand your skillset and give yourself the tools needed for the challenge. Packed into two and a half daysꟷꟷgain access to top-notch education and insights, dynamic speakers, peer learning opportunities and the latest product and service innovations. Come to the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference to grow!

NPE Action National Conference - Save the Date - March 28-29, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA.
The window is now open for workshop proposals for the Network for Public Education conference, March 28-29, 2020, in Philadelphia. I hope you all sign on to present on a panel and certainly we want all to attend.

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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