Thursday, January 14, 2021

PA Ed Policy Roundup for Jan. 14: PASBO Report: Pa. school districts project $475M increase in charter school costs ($350M of that for cybers) during pandemic

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, 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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Keystone State Education Coalition

PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 14, 2021

PASBO Report: Pa. school districts project $475M increase in charter school costs ($350M of that for cybers) during pandemic



Do you know someone who is interested in learning more about the role of a school board director? PSBA will host free sessions covering the core considerations for candidates who are contemplating running for school board:



Pa. school districts project $475M increase in charter school costs during pandemic | Thursday Morning Coffee

PA Capital Star Commentary By  John L. Micek January 14, 2021

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts are projecting a $475 million increase charter school tuition costs this year as parents sought new ways to educate their kids in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report has found. Tuition payments to cyber-charter schools make up a staggering $350 million of that tally, the survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials found, and that spending increase “was noted by many survey respondents as a top financial concern for next year, followed by assessment appeals and state funding.” The survey, conducted with the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, runs down the fiscal and instructional challenges during an historic public health crisis that saw schools repeatedly between in-person and remote instruction, challenging administrators, teachers and students alike. The pandemic “required an unprecedented change in K-12 schools to overcome new operational and fiscal challenges and continue to educate Pennsylvania’s students in the wake of the most critical public health crisis in our nation’s history,” PASBO said in a statement.


Federal aid is keeping Pa. schools afloat, but state will need to step up with funding, report says

While federal aid is subsidizing new costs brought on by the pandemic, Pennsylvania's school districts could be facing a budget hole once the aid expires in 2023, the report warns.

Inquirer by Maddie Hanna January 13, 2021

While federal aid has helped keep Pennsylvania’s school districts afloat during the pandemic, the state will have to intervene as those dollars dry up and local revenues falter amid the economic downturn, according to a new report.. The report, released Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, and Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, credited the influx of federal funding for the state’s 500 school districts — $575 million this year, followed by $1.6 billion expected in the next — with subsidizing costs brought on by the pandemic. But, it warned, school districts could be facing a budget hole once the aid expires in 2023 — particularly if the money is used to backfill traditional funding streams, as during the Great Recession more than a decade ago. Many schools used that federal stimulus money to cover positions as state funding plunged; when it expired, districts were forced to make deep cuts, the effects of which endured for years.


The CARES Act passed last summer provided Pennsylvania schools with about $575 million, funding which schools have to spend by Sept. 30, 2022. The COVID relief legislation signed into law in late December provides more than twice as much to local schools. Barrick said schools districts in the state stand to get about $1.6 billion, which must be used by Sept. 30, 2023. Schools used federal funding to balance their budgets during and after the Great Recession of 2007 and 2008 but ended up financially devastated when the state, under former Gov. Tom Corbett, refused to replace $1 billion in federal dollars when they ran out.

Schools brace for long-term strain from COVID economic shutdown

The Daily Item By John Finnerty/CNHI State Reporter January 13, 2021

The financial devastation of the pandemic and its economic shutdowns may strain school finances long after the vaccinations allow schools to return to normal operations, school officials said Wednesday. In the short-term, federal COVID relief funding may help schools avoid drastic property tax increases this year. But there are concerns about whether state funding will keep pace to help schools manage when the federal COVID relief dollars run out, said Hannah Barrick, assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Business Officials. More than half of Pennsylvania’s school districts passed budgets that didn’t raise property taxes, according. to a new report from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. How difficult the coming year will be for local school districts isn’t entirely clear. School districts don’t know the scope of any reduced earned income tax revenue and many appeals of tax assessment have not been resolved, according to the report. The federal stimulus funding may help school districts balance their books without tax increases this coming year, as well, Barrick said.


COVID impact on school districts varies across Pennsylvania, new report shows

West Chester Daily Local By David Mekeel @dmekeel on Twitter January 13, 2021

Each year, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials puts out a report on the financial picture for school districts across the state. In the newest version released Wednesday, one thing was crystal clear. "The fact that we clearly know is that all school districts are negatively impacted by COVID," said Hannah Barrick, PASBO assistant executive director. What's not as obvious, Barrick said, is what, exactly, that impact looks like. Each of the 500 school districts in the state has its own unique situation, she said, which means each district has experienced the pandemic slightly differently. "While everyone is impacted, that scope is tremendously different," she said. The PASBO report tried to get a bit of a handle on the issue, painting a picture of some of the biggest statewide trends resulting from COVID-19. It is based on surveys of school leaders and business officials, as well as publicly available data. Because the pandemic is an ongoing challenge, the report broke down its impact into three sections: the impact on last school year, the impact on the current year and the potential impact in future school years.


Read the PASBO 2021 School District Budget Report

PASBO January 13, 2021

School districts across Pennsylvania are experiencing a transformational moment for education. A global pandemic disrupted the 2019-20 school year and has upended the status quo in terms of instruction, budgets, staffing and everything in-between. The status quo is gone, and school districts have spent the past ten months adapting, pivoting and evolving in an unprecedented and ever-changing environment that is likely to continue for the duration of the 2020-21 school year—at least. To better understand the challenges school districts are experiencing and the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PA Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), the PA Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS) conducted a survey of school district business managers and superintendents.


Senator Martin Appointed to Lead Senate Education Committee

Senator Martin’s Website Posted on Jan 13, 2021

HARRISBURG – Senator Scott Martin (R-13) was appointed today to serve as Chair of the Senate Education Committee for the 2021-22 Legislative Session. The committee is responsible for considering issues and legislation related to Pennsylvania’s education system, including school safety, funding issues and post-secondary opportunities for students. “It is an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to chair a committee that will play such an important role in shaping Pennsylvania’s future leaders in business, industry and government,” Martin said. “With students spending less time in the classroom and more time learning at home over the past year, there has never been a more important time to consider the future of education and how we can ensure our schools can continue to prepare students for the challenges they will face in the future.”


A former Secretary of Education for Governors Ridge and Schweiker, Zogby also served as Budget Director for Gov. Tom Corbett. Between his government gigs with Schweiker and Corbett, Zogby was senior vice president of education and policy for K12 Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit operator of online public schools.

Pennsylvania Treasurer-elect Stacy Garrity names former Erie SD financial administrator Charles Zogby as Deputy Treasurer for Fiscal Operations

YourErie Posted: Jan 12, 2021 / 03:24 PM EST / Updated: Jan 12, 2021 / 03:24 PM EST

Pennsylvania Treasurer-elect Stacy Garrity has named the former financial administrator for Erie’s Public Schools as Deputy Treasurer for Fiscal Operations. The Pennsylvania Treasurer-elect announced today two key appointments to her incoming administration, naming deputy treasurers for both communications and policy.   Charles Zogby joins the Garrity Administration as Deputy Treasurer for Fiscal Operations and Policy. A former Secretary of Education for Governors Ridge and Schweiker, Zogby also served as Budget Director for Gov. Tom Corbett. In the latter role, Zogby oversaw the creation of a budget that closed a $4.2 billion structural deficit as the state was emerging from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.   Zogby also served as financial administrator for Erie’s Public Schools. He left that post in Feb. 2020 to serve as a special assistant on budget issues for the state Senate Republican leadership. He resides in York County.


Pa. coronavirus update: Montco rolls out weekly testing for teachers, at-risk students

WHYY By Ximena Conde January 13, 2021

On Wednesday, the commonwealth reported 7,960 new coronavirus cases with an additional 349 deaths as of Tuesday. To date, Pennsylvania officials report 741,389 total cases of the virus. A total of 18,429 people have died. Pennsylvania reports 5,204 people are in the hospital because of the virus, near the peak in the spring, with 1,060 in the intensive care unit.

The number of people tested with positive results for the first week of January is 14.4%.

Montco rolls out weekly testing of teachers and at-risk students

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health and the Montgomery County School District have started to roll out the antigen testing program in area schools. The regional effort offers in-school rapid testing for children and staff who become sick during the school day as well as weekly testing for staff and high-risk students. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said the program is voluntary, free and will run through April 2021.


Philadelphia board wants to confront equity issues and old assumptions, its president says

Chalkbeat Philly By Dale Mezzacappa  Jan 13, 2021, 10:14am EST

In the Philadelphia school district, teachers typically are allocated based on student enrollment and assigned based on seniority. Class size limits are the same everywhere, with 30 students in kindergarten through third grade, and 33 students in other grades, regardless of a school’s needs or demographics. These are among the assumptions that have governed how the school district has operated for decades. It may be time to throw those assumptions and some others out the window, according to the board of education. Rethinking everything about how the board does business, including long-held practices, is the impetus for the board’s new “goals and guardrails” initiative that was announced last month, with all the board members expressing support. They said it is meant to focus their efforts on what really matters — student achievement — and hold themselves and Superintendent William Hite more accountable. To do that, Joyce Wilkerson, board president, said members of the board are ready to upend accepted norms and practices if they have to, such as the formula for allocating teachers to schools and the method for determining where individual teachers are assigned. “What we’re doing now isn’t working for too many children,” Wilkerson said. ”We’ve got to start thinking differently.”


‘Stubborn inequity’: 6 in 10 Philly kids still attend low-performing schools, report says

The patterns are not new, but the persistent inequities are notable as the Philadelphia School District prepares to face significant upheaval. Most Philadelphia children attend schools that rank in the "low-performing" category, a new analysis found, but largely, those schools are improving.

Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham Published  Jan 13, 2021

Though most Philadelphia schools have made academic strides in recent years, six in 10 city children still attend a low-performing school, and the picture is much starker for Black and Latino children and kids living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The patterns are not new, but the persistent inequities are notable as the Philadelphia School District prepares to face significant budget challenges and a planning process that could result in school closings and other upheavals. The data come from a report, released Wednesday by the Philadelphia School Partnership, which analyzed three years of enrollment, student achievement, and growth at schools serving about 140,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grade in traditional public schools and city charters. The children account for 70% of the 200,000 students enrolled in traditional public and charter schools combined. (The report did not include high schools in its research, or compare district to charter school performance.) The analysis comes while school buildings are still closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with leaders stating unequivocally that systemwide changes will be necessary going forward, for reasons financial and educational.


Racial, economic inequities persist in Philadelphia schools, new report says

Chalkbeat Philly By Neena Hagen  Jan 13, 2021, 8:46pm EST

The city’s high-achieving schools enroll drastically higher numbers of white and wealthy students than the district as a whole, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Philadelphia School Partnership. Overall, 60% of Philadelphia kids attend low-achieving schools, with Black and Latino kids overrepresented at the lowest-performing schools, according to the PSP report. And low-income areas, like North and West Philadelphia, are home to fewer high-ranking schools than wealthier neighborhoods. The data “affirms the landscape that many people probably would have expected,” said David Saenz, PSP’s spokesman. The report, based primarily on state standardized test scores, uses the last three years of publicly available data to measure achievement, academic growth rates, and enrollment patterns in schools with kindergarten to eighth grade. High schools were excluded from the analysis because they administer different standardized tests. Elementary and middle schools use the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment or PSSA.


Vaccines for Philadelphia teachers could be ready in two weeks

Mayor, health commissioner are hopeful that in-person learning will resume this school year.

Chalkbeat Philly By Johann Calhoun  Jan 13, 2021, 10:29am EST

Philadelphia teachers could begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine the last week of January, the city’s health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley confirmed Tuesday to Chalkbeat. The city had originally anticipated vaccinating teachers beginning the first week of February, but the process of distributing the vaccine to health care workers in Phase 1A is ahead of schedule. “We’ve always said that we are not going to wait until Phase 1A is complete” to begin the next phase, said Farley, who noted that there are still many health care workers who have yet to receive their shots. “We are looking to start vaccinating people in Phase 1B the last week of January, perhaps Jan. 25, which is a couple of weeks away.” Teachers aides and school food service and facilities workers will also be eligible.


What’s next after House impeachment vote: AP explainer

Penn Live By The Associated Press Updated Jan 13, 2021; Posted Jan 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been impeached by the House days before leaving office, becoming the first American president to be impeached twice. The previous three impeachments — those of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump — took months before a final vote, including investigations in the House and hearings. This time it only took a week after Trump encouraged a crowd of his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol. Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on one charge: incitement of insurrection. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not begin a trial until next Tuesday, at the very earliest, which is the day before Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as president. It’s unclear, for now, exactly how that trial will proceed and if any Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump. Even though the trial won’t happen until Trump is already out of office, it could still have the effect of preventing him from running for president again.

A look at the next steps:



PSBA Spring Virtual Advocacy Day - MAR 22, 2021

PSBA Website January 2021

All public school leaders are invited to join us for our spring Virtual Advocacy Day on Monday, March 22, 2021, via Zoom. We need all of you to help strengthen our advocacy impact. The day will center around contacting legislators to discuss critical issues affecting public education. Registrants will receive the meeting invitation with a link to our spring Virtual Advocacy Day website that contains talking points, a link to locate contact information for your legislator and additional information to help you have a successful day.

Cost: Complimentary for members

Registration: Registration is available under Event Registration on


PSBA Webinar: New Congress, New Dynamics

JAN 14, 2021 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The 2020 election brings significant changes to the 117th U.S. Congress. How will the newly sworn-in senators and representatives impact public education? What issues will need to be addressed this session? To become an effective legislative advocate you’ll need to understand the new players and dynamics. Our experts will profile key new members, discuss what big trends you can expect and highlight the issues that will be debated over the next two years.

Presenters: Jared Solomon, senior public advisor, BOSE Public Affairs Group
John Callahan, chief advocacy officer, PSBA

Cost: Complimentary for members.



Adopt the 2020 PSBA resolution for charter school funding reform

In this legislative session, PSBA has been leading the charge with the Senate, House of Representatives and the Governor’s Administration to push for positive charter reform. We’re now asking you to join the campaign: Adopt the resolution: We’re asking all school boards to adopt the 2020 resolution for charter school funding reform at your next board meeting and submit it to your legislators and to PSBA.

Resolution for charter funding reform (pdf)

Link to submit your adopted resolution to PSBA


337 PA school boards have adopted charter reform resolutions

Charter school funding reform continues to be a concern as over 330 school boards across the state have adopted a resolution calling for legislators to enact significant reforms to the Charter School Law to provide funding relief and ensure all schools are held to the same quality and ethics standards. Now more than ever, there is a growing momentum from school officials across the state to call for charter school funding reform. Legislators are hearing loud and clear that school districts need relief from the unfair funding system that results in school districts overpaying millions of dollars to charter schools.

The school boards from the following districts have adopted resolutions calling for charter funding reform.


Know Your Facts on Funding and Charter Performance. Then Call for Charter Change!

PSBA Charter Change Website:


The Network for Public Education Action Conference has been rescheduled to April 24-25, 2021 at the Philadelphia Doubletree Hotel


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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