Monday, September 9, 2019

PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 9: PA Cyber 990 for FYE June 2017

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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PA Ed Policy Roundup Sept. 9 2019

We will be offline tomorrow, Tuesday, September 10th

Charter school advocates fume as Pa. says it will charge fees to consider payment disputes
Inquirer by Maddie Hanna, Updated: September 6, 2019- 3:28 PM
After fielding 13,500 requests last year from Pennsylvania charter schools seeking payment from school districts, the state will soon charge fees to consider them, outraging charter advocates. Under state law, charter schools are to be paid monthly by school districts, but disputes can arise over the bills. In some cases, districts simply don’t pay them, charters say. To recoup staff costs in sorting out payment problems, the department this month will begin charging charter schools $15 per request, Gov. Tom Wolf announced this week. Next year, it will also begin charging applicants seeking to open a cyber charter school $86,000, which officials said would cover the costs of evaluating the application. Notice of the fees — which Wolf first proposed last month while touting a plan to increase accountability for charters — infuriated charter advocates, who said their schools were being penalized for unfair actions by school districts, and that the cyber charter application fee would prevent anyone from trying to open a new cyber school. District officials, meanwhile, cheered the governor, saying they have little recourse for inaccurate billing by charters, which receive payment from districts based on the number of enrolled students.

Charter School Reform High Among Governor’s Priorities
Intelligencer By Chris English  Posted at 7:00 PM September 8, 2019
While saying there are good charter schools in the state, Gov. Tom Wolf says too many are not providing quality education and are falling short in other areas. Claiming that too many Pennsylvania charter schools are not making the grade in quality education, transparency and other areas, Gov. Tom Wolf is pushing for reform and asking for input on what changes would yield improvements. And while some local school district superintendents agree reform is needed, some charter school officials said Wolf is going too far in his criticism. “Pennsylvania’s charter school law is one of the worst in the country and is failing students, teachers, school districts and taxpayers,” Wolf said in a statement. “We cannot wait any longer to take action. Improving transparency and holding under-performing 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, according to the governor’s office. At the direction of the governor, the state Department of Education is developing new regulations for charter schools that will include:
  • allowing school districts to limit student enrollment at charters that do not provide a high quality, equitable education to students;
  • requiring more transparency with charter school admission and enrollment policies to prevent discrimination;
  • holding charter schools and the for-profit management companies to the same transparency standards as public schools;
  • requiring regular financial audits and public contract bidding.
“There are good charter schools in Pennsylvania, but we must do more to hold under-performing charter schools — especially cyber-charter schools — accountable to students, parents and taxpayers,” Wolf said.

ProPublica Full text of "Form 990" for fiscal year ending June 2017
Tax returns filed by nonprofit organizations are public records. The Internal Revenue Service releases them in two formats: page images and raw data in XML. The raw data is more useful, especially to researchers, because it can be extracted and analyzed more easily. The pages below are a reconstruction of a tax document using raw data from the IRS.

Walmart’s move on guns and ammunition sends an important message to Congress: People want action | Editorial
Inquirer by the Editorial Board Updated: 32 minutes ago
After Walmart’s welcome announcement last week that it would immediately stop selling certain types of ammunition and would also request that customers in “open carry” states not carry their weapons into the company’s stores, the National Rifle Association’s response was as implacable as it was predictable. What was essentially a reaffirmation of its longstanding declaration of war against even the most commonsense efforts to improve public safety attested to how loyal the NRA remains to the firearms manufacturers that are its most valuable and valued constituency. "It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites,” thundered the NRA, adding that the retailer “has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans.” The attempt to rhetorically transform into elitists everyone concerned about the frequency and ferocity of mass shootings in America, and the effort to elevate the alleged victim status of the “law-abiding Americans” the NRA purports to speak for above that of the law-abiding Americans being shot to death in schools, stores, synagogues, garlic festivals, and on the streets, were telling in the way a whiff of bottom-line fear can be telling. Like the decision in March by the Dick’s Sporting Goods chain to end guns and ammo sales at 125 of its 720 stores nationwide, Walmart’s move surely was market-tested, even market-driven. This is not to denigrate the wisdom and fortitude behind these corporate actions, but rather to emphasize that both Dick’s and Walmart are being responsive and responsible to customers of their 5,000 stores nationwide.

Report: This is what happened to the 1M kids who lost Medicaid/CHIP coverage | Monday Morning Coffee
PA Capital Star Commentary By  John L. Micek September 9, 2019
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The late Hubert Humphrey once famously remarked that the moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn, the shadows and the twilight of life. The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release data this week from its annual American Community Survey on the ranks of America’s uninsured — putting that maxim to the test. As a new report by the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute makes clear, that data will cast some badly needed light on the number of American children who receive coverage through Medicaid/CHIP. Nationwide, child enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP “declined by half a million children in the first 10 months of 2018. That number has now more than doubled to more than 1 million children in the 17-month period between December 2017 and May 2019,” the report indicated. “As we have analyzed the monthly data, we consistently have seen about two-thirds of states with net child enrollment losses in Medicaid/CHIP although a few states have switched from gains to losses and vice versa.” 

Here’s how a Montco school district created a tax relief program that others want to copy
Inquirer by Laura McCrystal, Updated: September 7, 2019
Pennsylvania school board members are accustomed to hearing complaints about rising property taxes, especially from senior residents. But it’s rare that a district acts on those concerns and offers a relief measure. The North Penn School District in Montgomery County last year became one of just a few districts in the state that offers relief to senior taxpayers. Based on a statewide program that is funded by the lottery and offers rebates of up to $650 for seniors, the district created its own rebate offer. Similar programs could soon pop up in other Philly-area districts; since North Penn won an award for its rebate this year, several school leaders around the state have contacted the district in hope of reproducing it. Some state lawmakers and taxpayer groups have pushed for reform or elimination of school property taxes, which account for the majority of homeowners’ tax bills. While that movement has not been successful in Harrisburg, initiatives such as rebate programs can offer some relief at the local level, said Steve Skrocki, North Penn’s chief financial officer.

Pennsylvania lawmakers look into broadband challenges in education, farming sectors
Students are sitting in school parking lots hours before and after school begins to complete homework. Farmers are relying on slow dial-up connections to complete transactions. These situations and more are the result of Pennsylvania’s lack of high-speed broadband access, according to testimony at a public hearing this week at Penn State’s Fayette campus. The Federal Communications Commission estimated about 800,000 Pennsylvania residents don’t have access to high-speed internet, said Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, who chairs the Senate Communication and Technology Committee. But that number is likely in the millions because many connections don’t meet the national standards for high speed internet, she said. Lack of broadband access is a problem for many industries, but the Senate hearing, the third of four, focused on education and agriculture. Students in the commonwealth’s K-12 schools and colleges often cannot complete online assignments due to the lack of access, a group of panelists testified. Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Lemont Furnace, said lack of access is not the only barrier. Broadband is expensive, and he considered cutting off his broadband service due to cost, he told the panel. He questioned education requirements for broadband. “Are we pushing, ‘You have to have broadband’ because it’s the next phase of education before we are actually ready for the next phase of education?” Warner asked. “I don’t think it’s fair to the kids who don’t have access or can’t afford it.” Gary Seelye, who is retired from the Brownsville Area Board of Directors, agreed that affordability was an issue. He said that 100 percent of students in his district are reimbursed for school lunches. But the digital divide needs to be addressed even if affordability is an issue, he said.

Active shooter trainings in PA: What have Allegheny County school districts spent?
Pennsylvania schools are required to hold security drills. Most local schools are avoiding big expenses.
Public Source by Brittany Hailer  | August 28, 2019
High-profile mass shootings have been driving investment in school security across the country. In 2017, schools spent $2.7 billion nationwide on safety and security services and equipment. How much are school districts in Allegheny County spending on active shooter training? PublicSource filed Right-to-Know requests to a majority sample of the 43 school districts in the county, inquiring the cost of contracts entered into for school safety and security training as it pertains to active shooters, intruders or other threats to school safety. The requests specified contracts that include — but were not limited to — training by the ALICE Training Institute. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The institute instructs students of all ages how to fight back, or counter, a shooter — a controversial and concerning notion to some students, parents and teachers. The ALICE Training Institute, which was founded by Greg Crane after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, has trained 3,700 K-12 school districts, according to its website. The institute did not respond to requests for comment. PublicSource requested contracts that were in effect for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. Of the 12 school districts that replied, eight districts provided records and four districts said they had no contracts or other records during the two-year period. Only four districts reported costs that totaled more than a few dollars. Several reported having free trainings and one reported spending $10. Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] spent about $68,850 on contracts that trained employees for an active shooter event in those two school years combined. More than $49,000 of that budget went to the ALICE Training Institute.

“Many of the concerns the board had related to the seemingly small amount of support the charter school had in the community. While the charter school submitted a document listing 65 parents who supported the school, only two lived in CV, Litts said. Of the 14 organizations that expressed support, Litts added, eight had existing connections to the school’s founding members.”
School District of Lancaster urges Conestoga Valley to deny charter school
Lancaster Online by ALEX GELI | Staff Writer Sep 6, 2019
Officials with the School District of Lancaster are urging the Conestoga Valley school board to deny an application from a charter school that says 75% of its students will come from Lancaster city. “It appears that the TLC Leadership Charter School has deliberately bypassed our school district to seek approval from you instead,” Lancaster board President Edith Gallagher said during a public meeting at Huesken Middle School Thursday night. Gallagher, speaking during the public comment period toward the end of the meeting, said this “disqualifies” the charter school for approval. If approved, TLC Leadership Charter School — an arm of The Lincoln Center, a Montgomery County-based nonprofit that offers education, coaching and counseling services in southeast Pennsylvania — would serve up to 200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade with an emphasis on students who suffer from anxiety, school phobia or other mental health issues. The school applied to Conestoga Valley, yet its application states only 25% of its students would be from CV. The CV school board peppered the charter school’s leadership with questions about this and other topics during a two-hour meeting Thursday.

Lincoln Charter looking to add grades with charter renewal
Lindsay C. VanAsdalan, York Dispatch Published 3:57 p.m. ET Sept. 7, 2019 | Updated 6:20 p.m. ET Sept. 7, 2019
Lincoln Charter School officials are planning to request a shift from an elementary grade structure to incorporate middle school — a group of students they say are missing out on critical support before high school. "Lincoln is, in many ways, a cocoon," said Anne Clark, director of community outreach. Students who excelled within the structure and culture of Lincoln no longer have that academic, behavioral and social support in middle school, which are difficult coming of age years, she said. President and CEO Leonard Hart said he doesn't want to look back at the violence in York City — in which many of the youth have been involved — and wonder what the school could have done differently. Hart announced at a monthly school improvement meeting Saturday, Sept. 7 that Lincoln's five-year charter renewal is coming up this fall and officials plan to ask for a restructure to from K-5 to pre-K-8. The restructure request is due Oct 1, and the charter renewal application is due to chartering district York City Oct. 31. "I don't pull punches," Hart said. "There's not going to be a pat on our back to expand because we'll be pulling students from other districts." But Clark said the reason behind the expansion is not to take away from other districts, but to be able to offer its current students the opportunity to remain at Lincoln after fifth grade.
"It's not an 'us against them,'" Hart said. It's about creating a systemic approach to education with a community of schools, he said, not about which entity is getting the money.

Trinity High School Uses Smartflowers to Support Students and Community
Smartflowers Website Sep 04, 2019
Trinity High School believes in using technology to address and solve real-world problems, which is why they installed three Smartflowers on their campus in Washington, Pennsylvania earlier this spring. The Trinity Area School District received funding from the Local Share Account (LSA) grant that provided a way to purchase their very own Smartflowers as well as their wind turbine project. While Trinity High School’s Administration researched other options for solar, such as traditional rooftop static solar panel systems, the Smartflower was ultimately chosen. “We decided to pursue the dynamic Smartflower to incorporate more technology and expand the curricular basis as well as career options for students,” said Donald Snoke, Assistant Superintendent of the Trinity Area School District. Trinity High School’s Smartflowers aren’t just used as a clean energy power source—they’re used as an educational tool for students. The Smartflowers have been integrated into the school’s curriculum in order to benefit AP students, college prep students, and students who plan on attending tech and trade schools or are entering directly into the vocational arena. Courses such as AP Environmental Science, Physics, Industrial Technology, and Vocational Agriculture will utilize Smartflower technology as part of their curricular focus. “The rigor and relevance of the secondary curriculum have expanded greatly. The bar has been raised and our students, staff and community members have been the beneficiaries,” said Snoke.

Learning a lesson: Increase wages for crossing guards, cafeteria workers
If Pittsburgh Public Schools wants more crossing guards and cafeteria workers, it’ll have to pay
THE EDITORIAL BOARD Pittsburgh Post-Gazette SEP 8, 2019 7:00 AM
As children were returning to Pittsburgh Public Schools, the district was struggling to fill positions important to the day-to-day operations of the schools. And this district should learn this lesson: You get what you pay for. A shortage of crossing guards and cafeteria workers forced the district to confront difficult situations like asking existing personnel to do more work and bringing in police officers to ensure school safety. Although PPS budgeted for 102 crossing guards, it has only 83 on staff. Retirements have thinned the ranks and a lackluster pay rate — just $72.60 per day, according to the district — has failed to attract enough candidates. Similarly short-staffed are the PPS cafeterias, according to the manager of the program. And, similarly, the maximum wage of $74.47 per day, according to a job listing, was not enticing applicants. The proof is in the pudding: The wages being offered for these positions don’t offer enough financial incentive for the community in an economy with unemployment at a near historic low.

Teacher-Drivers Keep Wheels on the Bus Going Round
Education Week By Corey Mitchell September 3, 2019
As school systems around the country struggle to fill vacant bus driver jobs, more districts have turned to familiar faces: their own employees. In suburban school systems near Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., teachers are signing up to drive routes before and after classes. A school district in rural North Carolina has begun requiring newly hired support staff—including cafeteria workers, classroom aides, and custodians—to complete bus driver training. And in western Pennsylvania, superintendents in two districts earned their state certification and commercial licenses over the summer in case they're needed in a pinch. More than 90 percent of school districts across the country reported bus driver shortages in a survey released this year by the National Association for Pupil Transportation. One-third of those districts described it as "desperate or severe" in the recent survey, said Mike Martin, the association's executive director.

Educator: There's A Mass Teacher Exodus, Not Shortage
Tim Slekar, Dean Of The School Of Education At Edgewood College, Says Testing Accountability To Blame
Wisconsi Public Radio By Mary Kate McCoy Published: Thursday, September 5, 2019, 5:35am
For years, stories about the teacher shortage have made the news in Wisconsin and around the country. But Tim Slekar, dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College, says it’s actually a teacher exodus. Slekar recently spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio "Central Time" host Rob Ferrett about the issue and the role of accountability and standardized testing.
The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Rob Ferrett: So a teacher exodus. Why do you call it that?
Tim Slekar: When we have a shortage, say of nurses, pay goes up, conditions get better and enrollment in nursing programs skyrockets. So if we have a teacher shortage, pay would go up. It's not. Conditions would get better. They're not. And enrollment in teacher education would go up. It's declining. That can't be a shortage then. 
When you talk about the fact that nobody wants to do this job, that parents are telling their kids right in front of me in my office that they don't support their child becoming a teacher, this is a real issue that needs to be talked about quite differently and that's why exodus is much better because you have to ask why are they leaving and why aren't they coming.

What: Informal discussion on cyber charter schools
When: 9 a.m. refreshments, 9:30 a.m. panel, Oct. 7
Where: Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College
AAUW State College Branch invites you to attend an informational panel discussion to learn more about background and issues connected with cyber charter schools. Join us on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800 E. Park Ave., State College (visitor center off Porter Road). Refreshments, 9 a.m.; panel discussion, 9:30 a.m.
The American Association of University Women State College Branch is part of a nationwide network of about 1,000 branches that are dedicated to advancing equity for women and girls.

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: 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  or email

“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: 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: 

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 

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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