Tuesday, June 4, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup June 4: HB800: Stop using public funds to subsidize private schools

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

PASA/PASBO Press Release June 3, 2019
HARRISBURG (June 3, 2019) – The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) will host a press conference on Tuesday, June 4 to release their spring 2019 school district budget report. Using survey responses and publicly reported data, the report highlights the increasing fiscal stress experienced by school districts as the education deficit continues to climb. The report outlines the challenges school districts face as they finalize their 2019-20 budgets and struggle to cover rising mandated costs related to charter school tuition and special education.
WHO: PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
PA Association of School Administrators (PASA)
WHAT: A press conference to share the findings of the PASBO/PASA spring 2019 school district budget report, highlighting growing fiscal stress as mandated cost increases continue to rise. A copy of the budget report will be available on Friday immediately prior to the press conference.
WHEN: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Capitol Building, Main Rotunda, Harrisburg

HB800: Your View: EITC scholarship bill is ‘runaway spending masked as corporate philanthropy’
A proposed expansion of Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarship program would unfairly benefit wealthier students who attend private schools and harm the public school system, the author claims.
Julie Ambrose, a Ph.D. candidate at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is writing a policy analysis dissertation on the Pennsylvania Education Tax Credit Programs.
Pennsylvania is about to cement its place as among the country’s leader in making education policy that takes resources from the most needy and gives them to the more advantaged — while claiming the opposite. A recent op-ed in The Morning Call by Sean P. McAleer (May 21) of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference claims Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarships enable the most needy children to choose a private school they otherwise couldn’t afford. He argues the program is so “successful” it should be expanded — by $100 million as proposed in HB 800that recently passed in the House. If the EITC scholarships actually went to our neediest children, his argument would have merit; but it just isn’t happening. Business investment in education can be transformative. But I have been studying the Pennsylvania education tax credits for over four years, looking at the data and following the flow of money. Businesses and nonprofits certainly benefit, but it is much more difficult to show that students benefit. According to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, over $663 million was contributed to this program between 2001 to 2016, yet nobody knows if it has done anything to improve education for students. The EITC directs money to private schools through student scholarships. Schools are not required to report academic outcomes for scholarship students. More shocking, the state does not even maintain a list of schools in which scholarship recipients enroll. Scholarship organizations are nonprofits that get funds from businesses, then give money to students. Based on data from the DCED, Catholic scholarship organizations receive by far the most money.

“It is important to remember that traditional public schools educate 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s children and that even struggling districts provide students with valuable learning experiences and support that simply aren’t available elsewhere. The loss in state revenue for public schools is even more troubling considering that Pennsylvania already ranks 47th among states in school funding from state sources. Rather than funnel public tax dollars to private schools that only serve a small percentage of the state’s population, urge your state senators to reject this expansion in the EITC and support our public schools.”
The Daily Item Letter by Abe Feuerstein and Sue Ellen Henry, Professors of Education at Bucknell University June 4, 2019
Recently, the Pennsylvania House approved HB800 which expands funds for school vouchers in Pennsylvania. The funds for these vouchers are provided through the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), which allows corporations to underwrite tuition at private and religious schools in lieu of paying their state taxes. House Bill 800 provides an additional $100 million-dollar tax break to corporations bringing the total tax break available to $210 million. A built-in 10 percent annual increase would bring the tax credit to as much as $544 million over the next 10 years without any further legislative action. With this change, annual income for families receiving vouchers from this program can be as high as $95,000 and this amount increases for each additional child in the family participating in the program. In other words, the families getting this tax money may be more privileged than the advocates of this bill claim. At their core, voucher programs are designed to provide public tax money to individuals so that they can spend that money on private or religious schools. Most voters in PA oppose these kinds of programs because they understand that funding vouchers will take money away from public schools. Those who do support such programs are often already sending their kids to private schools and are interested in having taxpayers subsidize the cost of that private schooling.

Cyber Charter Funding: This morning there are 70 bipartisan cosponsors on this bill; has your state representative cosponsored HB526?

“Some of the funding problems for districts can be explained by comparing revenues from the state BEF (Basic Education Funding) and SEF (Special Education Funding) subsidies with the state-mandated expenditures for Charter School Tuition and Net PSERS (Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System). PSERS is paid through a combination of local and state funding, with Net PSERS reflecting the amount of local funding required to pay the districts’ share of the total PSERS amount. The projected five-year state funding subsidy increases for BEF and SEF, $667 million, is far less than the projected increase in Net PSERS and charter school payments,, $1.23 billion.”
A Tale of Haves and Have-Nots - The Financial Future of Pennsylvania School Districts
Temple University center on Regional Politics January 30, 2019
A recent policy brief from the Center on Regional Politics, “A Tale of Haves and Have-Nots,” forecasts the fiscal future for all 500 school districts in PA for the period 2017-18 through 2021-22. The brief projects budget shortfalls for almost 300 districts, requiring them to reduce expenditures through program cuts or raise additional revenue. Additionally, even some districts whose fiscal condition is improving may be doing so from a base that is inadequate to support the needs of their students. Overall fiscal conditions are improving in aggregate, with revenues catching up to expenditures, but that masks continued fiscal stress for most districts and the persistent gulf between those with surpluses (“the Haves”) and those with shortfalls (“the Have-Nots”).
It is important to note that projected shortfalls indicate the level of fiscal stress districts are expected to encounter, not actual deficits. By law, districts cannot operate under a deficit budget. Similarly, those districts with projected surpluses will have funds to restore or partially restore program cuts since the 2008 recession, and in some cases, upgrade and enhance their instructional programs, and maintain staff aimed at improving student outcomes.

The budget sprint is on: Here’s three things to think about | Monday Morning Coffee
PA Capital Star By  John L. Micek June 3, 2019
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Today is June 3, 2019, which means that a mere 27 days remain before the lights blink out on the 2018-19 fiscal year, and then sputter back on again at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 as a new one commences. The House and Senate are back in this Monday morning town after a primary season/EST seminar/court-ordered course of treatment recess. And presumably everyone’s rested and ready for the number-crunching, horse-trading, ear-bending and elbow-greasing it’ll take to get a completed spending plan onto Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk before that deadline. If you’re just tuning in, or have forgotten (and, really, who could blame you if you have?), Wolf, a Democrat now serving out his second, and final, four-year term, is pitching a $34.1 billion general fund budget that includes nearly $500 million in spending for the current fiscal year.
And, as the AP reportsWolf is also looking for legislative authorization for an additional $1.9 billion in new spending. If the budget is enacted as-is, it would raise spending by about 6 percent, over current, approved spending of $32.7 billion.

Philly real estate community reacts warily to school district planning process
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent June 4, 2019  Listen 2:08
At the corner of 6th and Christian streets in Philadelphia’s Bella Vista neighborhood, the beeping of backhoes is almost like the chirp of native birds: constant, unmistakably loud. This intersection alone boasts a new Montessori-style pre-K, a strip of rehabbed townhomes, and a bustling coffee shop — all signs of the boom that has sent local real estate prices soaring. Sitting at said coffee shop, real estate agent Jeanne Whipple notes another important, and invisible, driver of development. “We’re just outside the Meredith catchment,” she said, gesturing northward. That’s a major distinction for Philadelphia parents, realtors, and developers. For those of you who don’t speak the Philadelphia dialect of education-ese, “Meredith” is short-hand for William Meredith, an acclaimed K-8 school in the Queen Village neighborhood. People pay a premium to buy homes in the Meredith attendance or “catchment” zone, where, by one estimate, housing prices have climbed 261% since 2001. Meredith’s popularity has created a problem: The school now has more students than it’s supposed to hold. And it’s not the only school like this in South Philadelphia, where the twin forces of gentrification and immigration have filled some public schools past their architectural brims.

Philly District expands program that gives books to young readers
Through the nonprofit Book Trust, and with a grant from the William Penn Foundation, all kindergarten through third grade students will receive up to three free books every month.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa June 3 — 9:15 pm, 2019
Shelly Alston said that her granddaughter Jewel is always reading. When she brings her to the gym and works out, Jewel is sitting on the side reading a book. In the back seat of the car, Jewel is reading a book, Alston told the gathering at Spruance Elementary School, where she teaches fifth grade. “Her love of reading has really grown,” Alston said of Jewel, a third grader in Barbara Kennedy’s class at the Northeast Philadelphia school. Jewel wasn’t an avid reader until a program came along at Spruance called Book Trust, a national nonprofit that, along with local philanthropies, provides up to three books a month to kindergarten through third grade students. The key: the children can pick out the books themselves, depending on what they’re interested in. “Book Trust made me a better reader by showing me all the choices out there,” said the third grader solemnly, her head barely reaching over the lectern set up for the adults. Her favorites: the Black Lagoon adventure series. Book Trust, which was started in Colorado in 2001 by the Schatz Family, has since spread to 21 states, reaching  57,000 children. Superintendent Hite and officials from Book Trust traveled to Spruance Monday to announce that Philadelphia’s pilot program of 10 schools would be expanded to include all elementary schools in the entire District within four years, a step made possible by a $1.3 million grant from the William Penn Foundation.

‘Staggering’ discrepancy in Pa. between rural and urban broadband coverage, study finds
Centre Daily Times by BY SARAH PAEZ June 3, 2019
Centre County’s median internet download speed does not meet the federal definition of broadband, according to a landmark 2018 mapping study released Monday of broadband availability in Pennsylvania commissioned by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. In fact, the study also found “staggering” discrepancies between numbers provided by the federal government and self-reported speed tests than originally thought, said State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County, chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, at a press conference at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg on Monday. Connectivity speeds were “substantially slower” in rural counties than in urban counties in the state, said the study. The Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as 25 megabits per second download speed and 3 megabits per second upload speed. Data from the new study, which comes from 11 million broadband speed tests run across Pennsylvania, indicate there is not one county in the state where at least 50% of the population received broadband connectivity.

Woodland Hills eyes 70 job cuts, tax hike to balance budget
MATT MCKINNEY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mmckinney@post-gazette.com JUN 3, 2019 6:13 PM
Facing a budget deficit of more than $5 million and rising debt service, the Woodland Hills School District is proposing a plan to cut as many as 70 positions and raise property taxes by 3%. The plan also calls for depleting the district’s fund balance, which now is about $4.5 million, in order to meet expenses. By the end of the next fiscal year, the district’s fund balance, which was $8.7 million on June 30, 2018, would be down to $52,000 by June 30 of next year. The district's teachers union on Tuesday plans to protest the cuts its says could have dire consequences for students and staffers alike. Matt Edgell, Western region advocacy coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said that union members fear that the cuts would come at the expense of “teaching, safety and the emotional needs of the students.”

State seeks receivership for troubled Harrisburg School District
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: June 3, 2019- 4:30 PM
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is seeking to further intervene in the Harrisburg School District, asking a court to put it in receivership. Education Secretary Pedro Rivera petitioned Dauphin County Court on Monday, saying the district had “failed to implement or fulfill key initiatives” in its financial recovery plan. He said the district had failed to meet “or even make meaningful progress toward” student achievement targets, and had not hired financial leaders with the needed experience. If the court grants the petition — it has seven days to hold a hearing, then 10 days to decide — Harrisburg would be one of only three Pennsylvania school districts to be controlled by a court-appointed receiver. The other two are the Chester-Upland and Duquesne City School Districts, according to the Department of Education. Harrisburg, one of the state’s larger districts, with over 7,500 pupils in the 2017-18 school year, was placed in financial recovery in late 2012 — a designation issued by the Education Department when a district requires advance payment of its state subsidy.

Harrisburg city school district may soon be under state control, as Pa. Education department petitions for receivership
This story was updated at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 3 with details from the Department of Education court filings.
The state Department of Education on Monday asked a court to appoint a receiver for Harrisburg city schools, an action that could put the troubled district under state control for the second time in 20 years. A hearing on the Education department’s petition has been scheduled for 1:30 pm this Friday, June 7 in Courtroom 8 of the Dauphin County Courthouse. A Dauphin County judge then has seven days to decide whether or not to appoint a receiver to take operational control of the district. The vast majority of Harrisburg’s 6,300 students are minority children from low-income families. In a 17-page petition that includes almost 400 pages of supporting evidence, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said the district failed to achieve the goals laid out in its long-term recovery plan, which was approved jointly by the school board and the Department of Education in 2013.

Silencing voters? State takeover of Harrisburg schools would wrest control from elected board
Penn Live By Jana Benscoter | jbenscoter@pennlive.com Updated 6:09 AM; Posted Jun 3, 7:09 PM
Several current and future Harrisburg school board members say they are furious that the state is moving to take control of their district. They just emerged from a hard-fought primary, convincing voters to oust four incumbents and choose five new faces to run — likely unopposed — for the open seats in November. But now, the board members and candidates are being told they may not even get a chance to fix their district’s woes. The department of education filed papers Monday with Dauphin County Court, asking the court to appoint a state receiver. A receiver would take day-to-day control away from the board. “I was hoping the state would give the newly elected board the opportunity to right this ship that has been sinking,” board member Carrie Fowler told PennLive. Board members aren’t the only ones who will be stripped of their power, one candidate said. “The voices of the citizens who voted in a new school board will now be silenced,” Jayne Buchwach said.

Requested state takeover of Harrisburg School District draws support from key state policymakers
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com Updated Jun 3, 5:59 PM; Posted Jun 3, 2:32 PM
Key state policymakers hailed the decision by the state Department of Education on Monday to ask for the court to appoint a receiver to take over running the troubled Harrisburg School District. They remain convinced this is the best course of action for the district’s future and the children it serves. The school district has been in financial recovery status since December 2012. It has been working with state-appointed chief recovery officer Janet Samuels, who the education department is asking the court to consider appointing as the receiver. In that position, she would assume all the responsibilities of the school board and recovery officer with the exception of setting tax rates. The elected school board would retain that power. The timing of request for a state takeover appears to relate to a desire to have a receiver in charge before the now-lame duck school board members, who were voted out in last week’s primary election, hold their next scheduled meeting on June 17.

Penn Hills residents voice concerns about school district’s financial plan
Trib Live by MICHAEL DIVITTORIO   | Monday, June 3, 2019 11:39 p.m.
Penn Hills School District residents voiced their concerns about a proposed recovery plan designed to bring the financially struggling district back into the black. Proposed tax increases and finding alternative means to fix the debt crisis were among the main discussion points of a town hall meeting at the high school Monday night. “If we keep raising taxes we’re going to lose people,” resident Bill Coleman said. “People can’t take it year after year, after year after year.” Two program cuts, 57 furloughs and a real estate tax hike of more than 6 percent all are part of the district’s proposed 2019-20 budget and financial recovery plan. Both documents were posted on the front page of the district’s website, www.phsd.k12.pa.us. The state put Penn Hills in financial recovery status in January and appointed Dan Matsook in February to help turn things around in February.

Taxes going up in Ridley School District
Delco Times By Barbara Ormsby Times Correspondent May 29, 2019
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — A property owner with the average assessment in the Ridley School District of $100,000 will pay an additional $56 in school taxes in the 2019-2020 school year, according to the proposed final budget recently approved by the school board. Proposed general fund expenditures of $111,090,848 is an increase of $3,511,121 over the current year's budget. The millage rate will go up 0.570 mills for a total of 41.30 mills or $4.13 per $100 of assessed property value. The school board approved a resolution last January stating that the district would not seek exceptions to the state's Act 1 regulations that would allow it to raise taxes above the 3 percent index and would require a referendum. The projected expenditures in the budget includes $1,557,931 from a portion of the district's fund balance, which the district has done in previous years. In her budget presentation, Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel listed the factors that are causing increased costs, with the lion's share of $1,279,801 going to additional pension costs due to the increasing employer share of 7.22 percent. She noted that special and technical education expenditures continue to go up without corresponding funding support from federal resources. The increases include five new special education teaching positions to meet the state-mandated caseload requirements.

Rural funding inequities: The case of Idaho’s public schools 
Kappan Online by Ali Carr-Chellman, Taylor Raney, and Dan Campbell April 29, 2019
A well-intended change to statewide school funding had unintended consequences for Idaho’s rural schools. 
Thanks to best sellers like Jonathan Kozol’s now-classic Savage Inequalities (1991), many Americans are aware of the need to reduce funding disparities in public education, particularly the resource gaps that divide wealthy suburban districts from the sorts of struggling urban school systems profiled in Kozol’s work. Less often discussed, though, is the plight of rural districts, which also tend to lag far behind in per-pupil spending and other measures of resource equity.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five Americans lives in a rural community, and according to recent research, 64% of rural counties have high levels of child poverty, compared to 47% of urban counties (Schaefer, Mattingly, & Johnson, 2016). To highlight the kinds of school funding shortfalls that are common in such communities, and to explain the challenges involved in helping rural districts to catch up, we focus here on the situation in our home state of Idaho, where, according to the Idaho State Department of Education, around 72% of school districts and charter schools are considered rural.

Philadelphia Public School Notebook 25th Anniversary!
Please join us on June 4, 2019, at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia! 
Teachers, families, public education advocates – come celebrate with us on the last day of the school year.
Every June, 400 public school supporters gather in celebration at the end of the school year. This festive event features awards for outstanding high school journalism, talented local musicians, a silent auction, and the opportunity to speak with the most influential voices in the local education community.
THE NOTEBOOK is thrilled to celebrate our 25th Anniversary on the final day of the school year! Our annual event will be a celebration of this exciting milestone for our nonprofit news organization. Our amazing community has made our decades of reporting possible, and we want to honor you this year: the parents, educators and advocates striving together in support of equity and quality in our public schools.
Our 25th Anniversary speakers will include:
• Stephen Flemming, English teacher and certified reading specialist at Martin Luther King High School, and an adjunct professor at Delaware County Community College
• Robin Roberts, Vocal advocate for high quality public education, public school parent and Director for Parents United for Public Education
• Dale Mezzacappa, Notebook contributing editor and veteran Philadelphia education reporter.

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: www.pccy.org/k12caravan . 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. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NBCNDKK

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.