Tuesday, September 3, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 3: “Reforming Pennsylvania’s charter school system isn’t going to happen easily. The best way to make meaningful changes is incrementally. And the easiest place to start is with cybercharters.”

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PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 3, 2019

EdVotersPA: Buckle up—we are building momentum for charter school reform in PA!
Education Voters PA Published by EDVOPA on August 30, 2019
It is an exciting time for public education advocates who support charter and cyber charter school reforms that will benefit students and taxpayers in Pennsylvania. In mid-August, Governor Wolf put forward strong proposals to improve the quality, transparency, and accountability of Pennsylvania’s charter schools and to control costs and improve outcomes for students. His proposals include new commonsense regulations that will be developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Among other things, these will aim to help prevent discrimination in charter school admissions and enrollment, hold charter schools and their management companies to the same transparency standards as school districts, and establish requirements for charter to document their costs to prevent them from overcharging taxpayers and districts.

“Reforming Pennsylvania’s charter school system isn’t going to happen easily. The best way to make meaningful changes is incrementally. And the easiest place to start is with cyber charters.”
Paul Muschick: Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools perform poorly and are overpaid. So why do we put up with them?
Opinion By PAUL MUSCHICK THE MORNING CALL | AUG 29, 2019 | 8:00 AM
There’s a logical starting place for reforming Pennsylvania’s charter school system — the cyber charters. Regardless of where you stand on charter schools, you can’t ignore the fact that those schools, as a whole, are underperforming while being overpaid. That’s been pointed out repeatedly. It’s time to finally do something about it. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars are at stake annually — $463 million was spent statewide on cyber charters in 2016-17. That amount surely will rise because enrollment is rising — it’s already at about 35,000. Pennsylvania has 15 cyber charter schools, where students are taught online in their homes by instructors who are elsewhere. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has called for a moratorium on new cyber charters and for capping enrollment at low-performing ones until they improve. Cyber charters provide an alternative to traditional public education, offering flexibility that appeals to some parents. But the cost is appalling to school districts, which fund them through tuition for each of their students who enrolls. Tuition can range from $7,300 to $18,000 per student, according to a February report from Education Voters of Pennsylvania. That’s far too much, considering that some districts have their own cyber schools and can teach a child for $5,000 or less. The cost disparity for special education students is equally out of whack. It’s bad enough that taxpayers overpay. It’s even worse when they don’t get results.

Altoona Area SD cyber school payout hits $3M
District expecting to pay $400,000 more than last year
Altoona Mirror by RUSS O'REILLY Staff Writer roreilly@altoonamirror.com AUG 30, 2019
Cash-strapped school districts are getting hit hard by cyber charter bills.
“Obviously it’s a strain on the school district and it’s getting increasingly worse,” Altoona Area Assistant Superintendent Brad Hatch said at a Thursday a committee of the whole school board meeting. Altoona Area is projected to pay $3 million to cyber charter schools this year — about $400,000 more than last year — for tuition for 300 students to attend cyber charters, Hatch said. Cyber charter school enrollment is not easily predicted. The only thing certain is that if a student wants to go, school districts have to pay. Tuition for cyber charter schools advertised on TV and radio is free for families, but school districts pay the bills. A cyber charter student costs a district the same as a student who attends a brick-and-mortar school. At the core of the cyber charter debate is that the cost to educate a student in a cyber program is much less expensive than education in a traditional school. Hatch said the low academic quality of cyber charters, too, is at the core of the years-long debate over whether they are wise investments for taxpayers.

Pa. cyber enrollment practices questioned
Sharon Herald By John Finnerty CNHI State Reporter September 2, 2019
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania needs to examine the way cyber schools are funded and explore whether there should be criteria used to determine if students should be allowed to study online at home, former state Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said Friday. Ensuring that children who turn to online classes can succeed is vitally important because too often students quickly fall behind their peers if they unsuccessfully try cyber school enrollment, Zahorchak said. Zahorchak served as education secretary during the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. Cyber schools may be fine for students who’d otherwise be home-schooled, he said. For students who are trying to avoid public schools because of behavioral problems or are just unwilling to show up for school every day, the cyber programs only make matters worse. A recent analysis by researchers at Stanford University found that in Pennsylvania, “students lose an academic year in math and reading for every year they spend in cyber school,” Zahorchak said. The Education Commission of the States found that of the 44 states that have charter schools, only 22 allow students to enroll in schools that offer classes online. “Pennsylvania’s current legislation seems to have the least amount of accountability and the only illogical funding system,” Zahorchak said. There are 140,000 children enrolled in charter schools in Pennsylvania, about 37,000 of them enrolled in online-based schools, according to the Department of Education. Charter schools and cyber schools, in particular, have become a hot-button subject at the Capitol.

“Pennsylvania school districts paid more than $1.8 billion to charter schools last year, almost triple the amount from 10 years ago.”
Allentown School District wants to cut charter costs to fill budget hole
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: August 30, 2019
The Allentown School District’s costs for students to attend charter schools have grown faster than anywhere else in Pennsylvania, district officials say — and it is taking a possibly unprecedented step of asking charters to accept a pay cut. Charter advocates worry that other districts might make similar requests. Superintendent Thomas Parker says charter costs have grown from $15 million to $60 million annually in the last seven years, “crippling” the state’s fifth-largest school district. Facing a deficit in its $341.8 million budget, the district has asked charter schools that educate Allentown students to agree to accept smaller payments. So far, most of the 23 charters — which are paid based on a state formula — have refused, saying they aren’t the cause of the district’s financial troubles. The situation will likely be closely watched by school districts across the state amid intensifying debate over charters and their mounting costs to districts. And the charter community is wary. Allentown’s request “could certainly be replicated” by other school districts under financial distress, said Ana Meyers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.

A charter school has applied with the Conestoga Valley School District. Here's what you need to know.
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Aug 27, 2019 Updated Aug 27, 2019
A nonprofit based in Montgomery County is offering a potential solution for kids struggling with mental health issues in Lancaster County: another charter school. The Lincoln Center for Family & Youth, a community-based organization that offers counseling and mental health services in southeast Pennsylvania, has proposed a 200-student charter school in the Conestoga Valley School District. What would be the county’s second publicly funded brick and mortar charter school — with La Academia Partnership Charter School in Lancaster city being the first — the TLC Leadership Charter School would serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade who have experienced trauma or suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. If approved by the school district, classes would begin Sept. 1, 2020. GT Freeman, CEO of the Lincoln Center, told LNP on Monday that he hopes the proposed school will fill a need in Lancaster County. “We’re focused on a very small segment of the population who need additional socioemotional health supports that they’re generally not getting,” Freeman said.

Wolf to Erie educators: Charter school law ‘outdated’
GoErie By Ed Palattella Posted Aug 29, 2019 at 12:07 PMUpdated Aug 30, 2019 at 5:46 AM
The Erie School District has the highest charter school costs in Erie County, but it is far from the only local public school system that is concerned about charters. The support throughout the county for charter reform was apparent on Thursday, when Gov. Tom Wolf advocated for changes to the 1997 state charter law in a speech at Grandview Elementary School in Millcreek Township. Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito followed Wolf as a speaker, but so did Millcreek schools Superintendent William Hall and Brenda Sandberg, a member of the Wattsburg School Board and the executive director of the Erie Western-Pennsylvania Port Authority. And among the other officials who attended was Richard Scaletta, the superintendent of the General McLane School District. For the Erie School District, a major concern is funding and accountability for the four brick-and-mortar charters that enroll students from within the district, plus cyber charter schools. For the other Erie County school districts, cyber charters are the main focus. Because of cyber charter costs, the General McLane School District “will be close to insolvency in 2023 if we don’t raise any taxes. We will be where Erie is,” Scaletta said, referring to the woes of the Erie School District, which is receiving an additional $14 million in annual state aid to stay solvent.

Wolf Administration Takes Next Step in Updating Charter School Regulations
Governor Wolf’s Website August 26, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – The reform to Pennsylvania’s flawed and outdated charter school law is moving forward with the process of developing regulations by opening a public comment period to gather information on the need for charter school reform, Governor Tom Wolf announced today. The governor outlined a three-part approach earlier this month that includes executive action, regulations, and legislation to provide comprehensive charter school reform. Gov. Wolf encourages education stakeholders to submit comments to inform the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s proposed regulations. “Pennsylvania’s charter school law is one of the worst in the country and is failing students, teachers, school districts and taxpayers,” said Governor Wolf. “We cannot wait any longer to take action. Improving transparency and holding underperforming charter and cyber charter schools accountable will level the playing field with school districts and help to control costs for taxpayers.” Brick-and-mortar charter and cyber charter schools, and for-profit companies that manage many of them, are not held to the same ethical and transparency standards of traditional public schools. Charter schools cost taxpayers $1.8 billion last year, but school districts and the state have limited authority to hold charter schools accountable.
At the direction of the governor, the Department of Education is developing new regulations for charter schools. The regulations will include:

“Thanks to a change in state law that took effect in June, the commission can’t review special education funding payments to charter schools or cyber charter schools, which enroll more than 140,000 students across the Commonwealth. … Browne said that special education payments to charter schools need to be part of a larger discussion about charter school funding in Pennsylvania.”
Legislative panel will travel the state this fall to hear concerns on the way Pa. pays for special education
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison August 28, 2019
Sen. Pat Browne will chair the Special Education Funding Commission with Rep. Curtis Sonney and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.
A special commission reestablished on Tuesday will examine Pennsylvania’s education funding for children with disabilities — albeit with a slightly narrower scope than in the past. Pennsylvania’s 15-member Special Education Funding Commission, which has been dormant since 2013, will travel across the state this fall to hear parents, educators, and school administrators sound off on special education funding.  They’ll compile their findings in a report due by Nov. 30, which may include recommendations to the General Assembly to change the formula that distributes special education dollars to Pennsylvania’s public school districts. It’s the same charge the commission had in 2013, when it recommended Pennsylvania adopt a new funding formula based on the severity of a student’s special education needs.  But as commission member Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, pointed out at a meeting on Tuesday, the panel faces one significant limitation this time around.  Thanks to a change in state law that took effect in June, the commission can’t review special education funding payments to charter schools or cyber charter schools, which enroll more than 140,000 students across the Commonwealth.  “I know that is a factor driving costs in special education,” Sturla said, referring to tuition payments to charter schools. “How we can dance around that?” The new rule doesn’t faze Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, who was elected commission co-chair on Tuesday, along with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Rep. Curtis Sonney, R-Erie, who also chairs the House Education Committee.  Browne said that special education payments to charter schools need to be part of a larger discussion about charter school funding in Pennsylvania. 

Blogger note: During his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Piccola was also the lead sponsor of voucher legislation.

“As a member and later chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, I was proud to help Gov. Tom Ridge enact Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law, which was later updated to include cybercharter schools.”
Your View by a former state senator: Why Pennsylvania needs its 180-plus charter schools
Opinion By JEFF PICCOLA THE MORNING CALL | AUG 28, 2019 | 10:25 AM
Jeff Piccola served as a Republican state senator, 1995-2012, and as state representative, 1977-1995. He is on the board of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools and Commonwealth Charter Academy.
Gov. Wolf recently proposed a series of so-called reforms to the Charter School Law. He asserted that Pennsylvania’s Charter School Law is one of the worst in the nation. If you look at the law from the perspective of high cost and failing school districts, he may be right. Charter schools, which are public schools, educate 7% of all public school students and do so with 15% less taxpayer funding than traditional school districts. The question is: Why do these students want to leave? The answer is simple and can be simply stated by every parent who chooses to send their child to a charter school. The regular public school is either failing, unsafe, not meeting the educational needs of the student, or all the above. Even many of our so-called “good” school districts are not meeting the needs of all their students. The truth is Pennsylvania’s charter schools are serving a higher percentage of minority and low-income student populations and working with less financial support, according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes report, “Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania 2019.” The solution is and always has been educational choice. Unfortunately, until the late 1990s, the only alternatives to traditional school districts were expensive private or parochial schools, or home schooling.

Charter Schools; Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Pennsylvania Bulletin PROPOSED RULEMAKING DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [ 22 PA. CODE CH. 711 ]  [49 Pa.B. 4817] [Saturday, August 24, 2019]
Sections 1732-A(c) and 1751-A of the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code) (24 P.S. §§ 17-1732-A(c) and 17-1751-A) authorize the Department of Education (Department) to promulgate regulations relating to charter schools and to implement the Charter School Law (CSL) (24 P.S. §§ 17-1701-A—17-1751-A). Through this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), the Department is announcing its intention to exercise this authority and submit a rulemaking that will propose amendments to 22 Pa. Code Chapter 711 (related to charter school and cyber charter school services and programs for children with disabilities).

Your View: Why it can be misleading to call charter schools ‘privately run’
Opinion by Jim Hanak THE MORNING CALL | AUG 31, 2019 | 12:00 PM
James Hanak is CEO of the PA Leadership Charter School in West Chester, Chester County.
Morning Call reporter Jacqueline Palochko in her article of August 21, stated, “Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run.” Her thinking is that because charter schools have board of directors that are not directly chosen by the public at large, therefore, charter schools are “privately run.” This can be misleading. Charter schools are public schools that not only receive public funding, but these same schools are not truly private as a true “private school” would be. Private schools are totally independent of the public school system when it comes to the running of that school — even though private schools may receive some funding from the state for curriculum and busing (for example). A private school has its own board of directors that make all the financial decisions of the private school. The state has the authority to see that private schools are not acting illegally but the running of the school is left up to the private school board. A charter school board of directors has the authority to run the day-to-day operations of a charter school. The local school district, however, has oversight responsibilities for the charter school. The local school district evaluates the application for a charter and grants the charter to the school. The initial charter and each renewal lists the charter school’s board of directors.

Charter school oversight change shows Pa. government undercutting Philly’s power | Opinion
Opinion by Lisa Haver, for the Inquirer Updated: August 27, 2019 - 8:08 AM
In the last 20 years, the Pennsylvania legislature has taken control of the School District and the Parking Authority; it has thwarted efforts of local officials to lessen gun violence and to regulate tobacco sales. As an Inquirer editorial decrying the state’s recent efforts to undermine Philadelphia home rule by limiting the type of cases District Attorney Larry Krasner can prosecute asked: “What’s the point of our local elections?” At the end of the legislature’s last session, a last–minute amendment to the School Code was introduced by the Republican leadership. It in effect allows a school in the Belmont Charter network to secede from the School District of Philadelphia. The Public School Notebook reported that House Bill 1615 “allows for the creation of Innovation Schools, using specific language that appears to single out Belmont Charter School.” The list of qualifications for placement in this special category is very specific, applying only to schools in a federal "promise zone.” There is only one such zone in the state — in West Philadelphia. The only charter school in that zone is Belmont. The move allows the school to seek waivers from federal and state requirements. This latest stealth move by the state legislature means that the district would be required to fund schools over which it has virtually no oversight. Some fear that it would open the door for other charter operators, who have consistently pushed back against district oversight.

After battle with Philly School District, Eastern charter won’t open for new school year
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: August 27, 2019
Eastern University Academy Charter School, which told parents earlier this month it planned for classes to resume as scheduled even though it had lost School District funding, has announced that it won’t reopen Sept. 9. A state board in June upheld the former Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s (SRC) closure decision, and the district cut off its payments. Eastern’s leaders had informed parents it was fighting the School District in court and intended to open next month. But the school now says it wouldn’t be possible to resume classes then.

The charter school goes upmarket with opening of two suburban-style campuses in Northeast Philadelphia | Inga Saffron
Inquirer by Inga Saffron @IngaSaffron | isaffron@inquirer.com Updated: August 29, 2019
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two decades since the first charter schools opened in Philadelphia. In the early years, those newly minted institutions tended to burrow into buildings that had seen better days — shuttered district schools, Class B offices, old car dealerships. Their main attraction was supposed to be their educational approach, not their facilities. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel right calling the two new locations that MaST Community Charter will open this fall in Northeast Philadelphia “schools.” Set on lushly landscaped, amenity-packed campuses, they might be better described as total educational environments. Whatever you think of the charter movement, the quality of the new designs ups the game for public education in Philadelphia.

Your view: Charter schools provide a quality educational experience
Wilkes Barre Times Leader Letter by Steve Zapoticky, Learning Support Teacher, Bear Creek Community Charter School September 2, 2019
The negative press relating to public charter school concerns me.
I am a learning support teacher at Bear Creek Community Charter School. I can honestly say that I am not the same teacher that I was prior to joining the charter school staff. I am now a better teacher. My passion for teaching is why I have so much pride in Bear Creek Community Charter School. I have never experienced a school that is so committed to student growth and development. This school provides a welcoming learning culture that focuses primarily on the students’ needs. I have taught at several different public schools in the Wyoming Valley and not one can compete with the “Bear Creek Experience.”

“In 2015, the federal secretary of education flagged Pennsylvania as having the nation’s worst “school-spending gap” — the difference in how much the wealthiest and poorest school districts spend per student.”
Landmark lawsuit challenges how Pennsylvania funds its public schools
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lbehrman@post-gazette.com SEP 3, 2019
With some exceptions, the consensus surrounding school funding in Pennsylvania is that there’s not enough, particularly when it comes to the state’s contribution. Whether spending more money per student actually affects academic outcomes is debatable, but state and federal data show one thing clearly: There are huge disparities among Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts and what they are able to spend to educate each child.  This fact is the subject of a landmark lawsuit headed for trial in Commonwealth Court. It argues that the state is not meeting constitutional requirements because school funding in Pennsylvania relies too much on local tax dollars and therefore is inadequate and discriminates against districts that cannot raise sufficient revenue on their own.  “Our current school funding system is unfair to students because of the disparities, and it’s unfair to taxpayers because of the disparities, and it’s unfair to the communities that are having to bear the costs because the state's not willing to pay their share,” said Michael Churchill, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which filed the lawsuit along with the Education Law Center and a handful of Pennsylvania districts. 

House Speaker Mike Turzai proposes school voucher program for Harrisburg City Schools
PA Capital Star By  Elizabeth Hardison August 27, 2019
The top Republican in Pennsylvania’s state House announced on Tuesday a plan to create a new school voucher “pilot program” for students in the Harrisburg City School District, which was placed under state control this year in an attempt to rescue it from financial and academic ruin. House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, wants to require the Harrisburg City School District to award scholarships of at least $4,100 to children who wish to enroll in private or other public schools, according to a memo he circulated to colleagues on Tuesday. Turzai’s yet-to-be-introduced proposal also calls on the state to provide an additional $3,000 to each scholarship, bringing the total value to at least $7,100 — a sum that “will provide affordability for Harrisburg children to attend a school of their choice in the region,” Turzai writes in the memo. Area public schools would have to opt-in to enroll Harrisburg students. 

Vouchers: Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai proposes new school choice program for Harrisburg school families, students
Penn Live By Charles Thompson | cthompson@pennlive.com Updated Aug 27, 2019
Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, a leading proponent of school choice, has proposed a new scholarship program aimed at helping Harrisburg School District students, if they and their families choose, find educational alternatives while the struggling system rebuilds itself. Turzai’s bill, which is currently being drafted, would require any Pennsylvania district in receivership to provide scholarship grants worth at least half of their per-student state subsidy, coupled with an additional $3,000 direct from the state. Harrisburg, which went into receivership earlier this year, would be the first such district to trigger the new requirement. Based on Harrisburg’s current state aid figures, the bill would create grants of about $7,100 per student. The grants could be used to pay tuition at any private or public school. Public schools, however, would have the ability to opt-out of receiving the Harrisburg students, and the private schools would retain full discretion to offer admission to children that meet their requirements.

Skopov to Challenge Turzai Again in 2020
PoliticsPA Written by John Cole, Managing Editor August 7, 2019
A second shot at the Speaker. 
Emily Skopov, a former screenwriter and founder of the nonprofit No Crayon Left Behind, announced her intentions to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the state’s 28th House District held by Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny).  She challenged Turzai in 2018, but lost by close to 9 points in the Pittsburgh suburban district. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary to face Turzai in 2018 election and is the first declared Democratic candidate for the seat for 2020 as well. 

“Currently, six of the commonwealth’s 500 school districts — including Duquesne City and Penn Hills — are in financial recovery status. To qualify, a district must meet at least one of several requirements, such as receiving advances on its basic education subsidy to make ends meet.”
In cash-strapped school districts, these are the folks called to help the recovery
MATT MCKINNEY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mmckinney@post-gazette.com SEP 3, 2019
The school district’s money troubles have worsened for years by the time it reaches this point. Enrollment and property values may have waned. Debts and deficits have likely snowballed. And tax hikes are as routine as summer breaks, with many residents skirting the bill. When a school system drifts too far toward the financial brink and other fixes fall short, the state Education Department puts it under financial recovery status. The label means diminished freedom but extra resources, such as allowing the district to apply for interest-free loans to get back on track. Cue the chief recovery officer — a state-appointed school finance maestro hired to come up with and carry out a plan to rescue the district from deeper hardship. Endowed with broad powers but limited accountability — answering only to the state education secretary — chief recovery officers take on outsize roles in their districts, often for years to come. They have the authority to usher in big changes amid dire financial situations.

Heading into 8th year, Philly schools chief Hite wants to ‘think about reform differently’
By Avi Wolfman-Arent September 3, 2019
With each passing year, the story of William Hite’s tenure as Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia becomes more and more about how long that tenure has lasted. Hite will begin his eighth year leading the region’s largest school district, a rare feat among superintendents in large, high-poverty school systems. “I do think too often urban school districts are whipped around with new leadership that will come and create a different direction,” said Hite in a back-to-school-year interview with WHYY. Hite has preached a message of stability, especially since the district crawled out of a fiscal crisis that plagued the early years of his superintendency. There are no labor disputes to cloud the beginning of the ‘19-’20 school year. Nor are there any impending budget crunches. The district continues to slowly replacepositions lost during the last financial crisis, while maintaining its emphasis on academic areas it deems critical — such as early literacy.

Despite increase, Pottstown remains most underfunded district in the region
Before Pottstown School District students stepped through the front door of their school for the start of a new school year, each one of them had already been robbed of nearly $4,000. That's how much more funding the state's fair funding formula says they need to get an adequate education. But under Pennsylvania's current education funding system, they won't get it. What is the Fair Funding Formula? Pennsylvania has been identified as having the most unfair education funding system in America, one that relies too heavily on local property taxes, thus ensuring the distribution of education resources is determined more by zip code than demonstrable need. The formula uses a variety of factors, such as median household income, local tax-base, student population, the percentage of English language learners and other considerations to determine a fair share of the state's education funding pot for each district and ensure students in poorer districts get opportunities equal to those in wealthier districts. The fair funding formula, common in most other states, was adopted in 2016 to address that inequity, but only a small portion of the state's education budget each year is distributed using its guidelines.

Chartiers Valley adds online academy
Post-Gazette by DEANA CARPENTER AUG 28, 2019
Starting this school year, Chartiers Valley launched its own online academy.
Assistant Superintendent Scott Seltzer said at an Aug. 27 meeting that the online academy is a way to “entice students to come back” to Chartiers Valley from other cyber schools. Mr. Seltzer added that the district starting its own online academy is significantly less expensive than paying for district students to go to cyber charter schools. So far, 10 students are enrolled in Chartiers Valley’s online academy. Mr. Seltzer added that four students who had been enrolled in cyber school outside the district have enrolled in Chartiers Valley’s program. “It’s a good opportunity for kids that may not be traditional students to get a Chartiers Valley diploma,” Mr. Seltzer said. The district is offering regular, honors and advanced placement classes through its online program. He added Chartiers Valley is working toward integrating activities like band, art and other extracurricular activities into the online academy.

Pa. school district still pushing to arm teachers
WHYY Air Date: August 26, 2019  Listen 14:26
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Last year in hopes of preventing a mass shooting, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania became the first school district in the state to allow staff to carry firearms. But now, as students begin the school year, implementing that idea has been put on hold. Keystone Crossroads contributor Jen Kinney explains why Tamaqua’s controversial plan rests on competing interpretations of state law and a heated school board election.

State still looking at Erie School Board vote
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted Sep 1, 2019 at 2:01 AM
School directors avoided takeover by reversing one decision, but an unchanged vote continues to defy state-mandated plan.
The state Department of Education is still reviewing the Erie School Board’s rejection of one of the requirements in the district’s state-mandated financial improvement plan. The school directors on Aug. 14 voted 7-1, with one absence, to reject the elimination of a pro-union rule in the district’s bidding policy for construction jobs of more than $25,000. The Department of Education “has not reached a definitive conclusion yet” about what to do about the vote, the department’s spokesman said. The School Board on Aug. 19 reversed another vote from Aug. 14. The board on Aug. 19 approved, in a 7-2 tally, another requirement that the district seek bids on outsourcing custodial services. That resolution failed to pass in a tie vote on Aug. 14. The Aug. 19 reversal on the custodial bids lifted the threat that the Department of Education would take over the school district due to noncompliance with the financial improvement plan. The General Assembly in 2017 mandated the creation of the plan as part of lawmakers’ allocation of $14 million in additional annual state aid to keep the school district solvent. Still unresolved is whether the state Department of Education will take action against the district in light of the School Board’s continued defiance over the policy for construction bids. With the reversal of the vote related to custodial bids, the requirement over construction bids is the lone directive in the 64-page financial improvement plan that the School Board has refused to follow.

Back to school in Harrisburg was big win for new leadership, but real test is still ahead | PennLive Editorial
By PennLive Editorial Board Updated Aug 28, 2019; Posted Aug 28, 2019
Cpl. Josh Hammer, Community Policing Officer for Harrisburg police, stood at the door of Foose Elementary School on the first day of school high-fiving little hands and offering consoling hugs to tiny tykes who just didn’t want to leave Mommy’s arms. “There have been a few tears this morning,” said school nurse Portia Bolen-Geter, “but overall this is a beautiful day for the kids.” Bolen-Geter is a veteran of back to school frenzy, which she says can be both joyful and tearful for kids and parents. It was that and more at Foose and other Harrisburg schools Monday as anxious parents led their children down the halls looking for clues about what changes the state’s takeover of the district would bring to the classrooms.

‘A child can’t learn when they’re hungry:’ Pa’s Wolf, other guvs protest Trump’s food stamps cuts | Thursday Morning Coffee
PA Capital Star Commentary By John L. Micek August 29, 2019
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, along with a coalition of governors, on Wednesday sent a 
letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue opposing the agency’s plan to cut food assistance. President Donald Trump’s USDA has essentially proposed eliminating Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). An estimated 3 million people nationwide could lose benefits, with 500,000 schoolchildren losing free breakfast and lunch at school. And as many as 200,000 adults and children in Pennsylvania could be affected by this change, according to state Department of Human Services data.

Pennsylvania: Leaders Matter
August 27, 2019  In LeaderMatter  By AASA
David Baugh, Superintendent Of Schools, Centennial School District, Warminster, Pa., And Richard Sniscak, Superintendent, Parkland School District, Allentown, Pa.

Summer internships expand horizons for Philly teens
This year, some 8,000 students spent between 120 and 160 hours at one of about 1,000 work sites throughout the city.
The notebook by Paul Jablow August 30 — 7:07 am, 2019
Every year since its founding in 1999, the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) has provided summer internships to high school students throughout the city. This year, about 8,000 students spent between 120 and 160 hours at one of about 1,000 work sites throughout the city. These included IBX, Comcast, Bank of America, Drexel University, the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, and nonprofits, including PYN itself. The students are paid a minimum of $7.25 an hour, with some earning up to $12. They are chosen from about twice as many applicants. Graduates of WorkReady and its predecessor, YouthWorks, have included a 6th-grade charter school teacher, an assistant dean at the Community College of Philadelphia, a psychologist with the Navy, and a senior labor and employee relations analyst with the Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations. “No matter where a young person is working,” said PYN’s president and CEO, Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, “we know that they are refining their natural talents and gaining essential skills that will help prepare them for successful futures.”
Here are four snapshots of this past summer’s interns.

Adolescent Health and School Start Times:  Science, Strategies, Tactics, & Logistics  Workshop Nov 13, Exton
Join school administrators and staff, including superintendents, transportation directors, principals, athletic directors, teachers, counselors, nurses, and school board members, parents, guardians, health professionals and other concerned community members for an interactive and solutions-oriented workshop on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:30 am to 3:00 pm 
Clarion Hotel in Exton, PA
The science is clear. Many middle and high school days in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, start too early in the morning. The American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other major health and education leaders agree and have issued policy statements recommending that secondary schools start no earlier than 8:30 am to allow for sleep, health, and learning. Implementing these recommendations, however, can seem daunting.  Discussions will include the science of sleep and its connection to school start times, as well as proven strategies for successfully making change--how to generate optimum community support and work through implementation challenges such as bus routes, athletics, and more.   Register for the workshop here: 
https://ssl-workshop-pa.eventbrite.com Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to offer early bird registration for $25, which includes a box-lunch and coffee service. Seating is limited and early bird registration ends on Friday, September 13.
For more information visit the workshop website 
www.startschoollater.net/workshop---pa  or email contact@startschoollater.net

EPLC/DCIU 2019 Regional Training Workshop for PA School Board Candidates Sept. 14th
The Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Center will conduct a regional Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates at the DCIU on September 14, 2019.
Target Audience: School Board Directors and Candidates, Community Members, School Administrators
Description: Full Day Workshop for 2019 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates. Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in this workshop. The workshop will include Legal and Leadership Roles of School Directors and School Boards; State and Federal Policies: Implications for School Boards; School District Finances and Budgeting; Candidates and the Law; Information Resources; "State and Federal Policies" section includes, but is not limited to: K-12 Governance; PA Standards, Student Assessment, and Accountability; Curriculum and Graduation Requirements; K-12 State Funding; Early Education; Student Choices (Non-Public, Home Schooling, Charter Schools, Career-Technical, and more); Teacher Issues; Linking K-12 to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education; Linking K-12 to Community Partners
***Fee: $75.00. Payment by Credit Card Only, Visa or Mastercard, PLEASE DO NOT SELECT ANY OTHER PAYMENT TYPE*** Registration ends 9/7/2019

“Each member entity will have one vote for each officer. This will require boards of the various school entities to come to a consensus on each candidate and cast their vote electronically during the open voting period (Aug. 23 – Oct. 11, 2019).”
PSBA Officer Elections: Slate of Candidates
PSBA members seeking election to office for the association were required to submit a nomination form no later than June 1, 2019, to be considered. All candidates who properly completed applications by the deadline are included on the slate of candidates below. In addition, the Leadership Development Committee met on June 15th at PSBA headquarters in Mechanicsburg to interview candidates. According to bylaws, the Leadership Development Committee may determine candidates highly qualified for the office they seek. This is noted next to each person’s name with an asterisk (*).

In November, many boards will be preparing to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This event will help attendees create a full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Register now:
PSBA: Start Strong: Developing a District On-Boarding Plan for New Directors
SEP 11, 2019 • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
In November, many boards will be faced with a significant transition as they prepare to welcome new directors to their governance Team of Ten. This single-day program facilitated by PSBA trainers and an experienced PA board president will guide attendees to creating a strong, full year on-boarding schedule based on best practices and thoughtful prioritization. Grounded in PSBA’s Principles for Governance and Leadership, attendees will hear best practices from their colleagues and leave with a full year’s schedule, a jump drive of resources, ideas for effective local training, and a plan to start strong.
Register online at MyPSBA: www.psba.org and click on “MyPSBA” in the upper right corner.

PSBA: Nominations for The Allwein Society are open!
This award program recognizes school directors who are outstanding leaders & advocates on behalf of public schools & students. Nominations are accepted year-round with selections announced early fall: http://ow.ly/CchG50uDoxq 

EPLC is accepting applications for the 2019-20 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program
Education Policy & Leadership Center
PA's premier education policy leadership program for education, policy & community leaders with 582 alumni since 1999. Application with program schedule & agenda are at http://www.eplc.org 

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

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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