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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House votes down school code - HB1615 by a vote of 77 yes to 121 no votes; will reconvene today.
Pa. budget deal still in limbo amid last-minute brinksmanship
Delco Times By MARC LEVY and MARK SCOLFORO Associated Press June 28, 2019
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans who control the Pennsylvania Legislature inserted some pet policy objectives into hundreds of pages of just-unveiled budget legislation with the annual fiscal-year deadline days away, forcing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to make hard choices at the 11th-hour. Amid the deadline brinksmanship, measures approved by lawmakers Thursday included a $34 billion budget package and changes to laws that govern elections, public schools and human services. A key budget-related bill that guides education policy hit opposition Thursday night in the House of Representatives, and remained in limbo. The 2019-20 fiscal year begins Monday. Wolf's office said the governor would not take action on bills before Friday, and Wolf has not said how he'll handle bills that include provisions hotly opposed by his Democratic allies in the Legislature. One GOP-backed provision in a bill on Wolf's desk is making the governor decide between eliminating a decades-old cash assistance program for the poor and continuing state subsidies for Philadelphia hospitals. Not one single Democratic lawmaker voted for it, and a fight in the Senate over the bill on Wednesday devolved into shouting, name-calling and bare-knuckled procedural tactics. Another three-paragraph provision inserted Wednesday night into a sprawling, 69-page budget-related bill would stall any move by Philadelphia to ban plastic bags or impose a fee on reusable bags that many stores provide. Wolf in 2017 vetoed a bill that sought to prevent counties and municipalities from taxing or banning plastic bags.
“But an interesting alchemy had emerged. A number of the Republicans' most conservative members voted against the bill--in large part because of a separate provision that would lower the compulsory age of school attendance from eight to six and increase the age a student can leave school from 17 to 18. Mark Gillen, a Republican from Berks County, said on the chamber floor that the late addition of that provision had blindsided him and other like-minded members. "I'm concerned from the perspective of religious freedom," he said, "I think it's perfectly consistent to embrace religious freedom and educational freedom and freedom of choice in the commonwealth and then meet our constitutional responsibility to public education."
Inches from finish line, House budget talks falter over education
WITF Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 28, 2019 5:08 AM
(Harrisburg) - House lawmakers were one bill away from sending Governor Tom Wolf a complete budget package Thursday night when negotiations abruptly broke down. The issue? Two components of the measure that would have, among other things, authorized $6.7 billion in basic education funding. Before the Senate approved it, they adjusted some provisions related to career and technical education, or CTE. They had been part of a bill package that unanimously passed the House in March. House Democrats said they only realized late Thursday that the Senate had omitted the initiatives their caucus favored--among them, an online career resource center, a requirement to inventory workforce development programs, advisory committees for CTE programs, and a grant program designed to encourage apprenticeships. "We wanted to send a message," House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said of the bill's crash-and-burn. "Look, you made a commitment. We heard that in the House. It should have been done." Dermody and the rest of the Democrats registered their unhappiness in a committee meeting ahead of the final vote. At first, they agreed to put their concerns aside and moved the bill through unanimously.
PA budget passed, school spending plan up in the air
Johnstown Tribune Democrat By John Finnerty email@example.com June 28, 2019
HARRISBURG – The state Senate sent Gov. Tom Wolf a $34 billion state budget Thursday night, but lawmakers in the state House will return to the Capitol on Friday to take up a budget measure dealing with school law. In a late Thursday vote, the House refused to concur on changes made by the state Senate. Democrats balked at supporting the measure, and a smaller group of Republicans refused to back it over changes to the state’s required school age. The measure would have required students to enroll at age 6 and remain in school until 18. Current law uses 8 and 17 as the upper and lower age requirements. Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, had urged the members to back the school plan despite the concerns about the changes made by the Senate. But by a 121-77, House members refused to agree to the school law plan. Lawmakers were huddling behind closed doors late Thursday after the session. Wolf put off signing the overall budget bill Thursday night in light of the House vote, J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Wolf said. The state House approved the overall spending plan earlier this week. The plan would increase basic education funding for schools by $160 million and increases funding for special education by $50 million. The plan also would allow for another $25 million in tax credits for donors who give to scholarship programs that cover tuition for private schools. Wolf vetoed a bill that would have boosted that tax credit program by $100 million. The budget would provide schools with another $60 million to boost security in the wake of ongoing concerns over safety in light of shooting incidents across the country. But in debate before rejecting the school bill, lawmakers raised concerns about a move to change the ages of compulsory attendance, as well as the career and technical education changes.
With deadline looming, the Pa. Budget stalls in the state House over education
PA Capital Star By Stephen Caruso June 28, 2019
Some last minute additions — and surprising missing pieces — derailed final approval of the state budget late Thursday night. The House balked at passing one final part of the budget in a 77-121 vote on the school code — an omnibus bill of that directs how the state’s $6.7 billion education budget will be spent. All but one Democrat voted with 31 Republicans to vote the legislation down. It was a surprise end to what seemed a triumphant march to an early signing of the state’s $34 billion budget, which ran into limited hiccups — amid some fiery debate — over the past week. The coalition seemed out of place considered the provisions in the school code bill. From a safe harbor rule to encourage underage college students out drinking to report sexual violence to a $25 million expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, there seemed to be something to keep everybody happy. But the plan started to fall apart around 7:30 p.m.. Among House Republicans, at issue was a proposal to expand the compulsory school age from the current range of age eight to 17 to age six to 18. More socially conservative Republicans saw the proposal as taking away the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their kids. Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that has a compulsory attendance age above 6 year old, and is tied with Washington for the oldest.
Pa. Senate sends $34 billion budget bill to Gov. Tom Wolf but last-minute glitch delays signing
Penn Live By Jan Murphy | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated Jun 27, 10:57 PM; Posted Jun 27, 3:59 PM
A $34 billion state budget bill is before Gov. Tom Wolf but some unexpected drama in the Capitol kept him from signing the spending plan Thursday night. The state Senate Thursday approved a budget bill that provides hundreds of millions more for schools, makes another investment in school security, provides help to the state’s sputtering agricultural industry, and all without a tax increase. The Senate voted 42-8 to approve the spending bill; the House passed it by a 140-62 vote on Tuesday. The spending package does not include an increase in the state’s minimum wage, a key goal for Democrats. Wolf has indicated he would sign the spending plan legislation once he received the entire package of budget-related bills. Assuming Wolf does it before Monday, it would mean for the second consecutive year – and the second time since he first moved into the governor’s office – that Pennsylvania has had a budget done on time. He was prepared to hold a public signing ceremony on Thursday evening once the House passed a bill that directs school funding to pay for the budget. However, an eleventh-hour hiccup arose in the House’s consideration of that bill that delayed the governor’s ceremony. The Senate changed parts of the school code bill that drew objections from both House Republicans and Democrats. House GOP members disliked the inclusion of a change in the compulsory school age from 6 to 18 years old or upon graduation from the current 8 to 17 years of age. House Democrats objected to the omission of some career and technical education programs that they wanted and felt they had the House Republicans’ word would be included.
Winners and losers in Pa.’s $34 billion state budget package
The General Assembly sent the main funding bill to the governor Thursday. But a key education bill failed to pass.
PA Post by Ed Mahon and Katie Meyer JUNE 27, 2019 | 9:03 PM
Three days ahead of their June 30 deadline, state lawmakers failed to finalize a roughly $34 billion budget package. Wolf’s office said the main spending plan, which includes no tax increases, meets his objectives. But some lawmakers in Wolf’s own party have criticized the plan, and the governor himself strongly opposes parts of related funding bills — in particular, a measure that repeals a small cash assistance program for the poor. Then at around 9:20 p.m. Thursday, the House failed to pass an education bill — throwing a wrench into the entire process. A spokesperson for the governor said Wolf won’t be signing any budget bills Thursday evening. The House plans to return to session on Friday morning. Below is a look at who stands to win and lose from the budget package, if it gets back on track.
“But before the school board could vote on the sale, Board President Joyce Wilkerson pulled the proposal from the agenda.
She said new language embedded in a state bill could be problematic, and that the board wanted more time to review the bill before voting on Belmont’s fate.
“Today we learned that the state is considering House Bill 1615 which would codify a designation where Belmont Charter School could be exempt from all state and local oversight,” Wilkerson said. “For this reason, I have withdrawn the sale of the Belmont facility until we understand the outcome of this legislation”
House Bill 1615, an omnibus bill that would make several changes to the state’s school code, now contains a section entitled “Innovation Schools Program.”
That section allows for the creation of Innovation Schools, using specific language that appears to single out Belmont Charter School. To be eligible for this designation, a school would have to serve a certain percentage of low-income students, be located in a federal Promise Zone, and “partnered with behavioral health specialists” — all of which apply to Belmont Charter School.
June 27 — 9:08 pm, 2019”
Penn Alexander 2.0? Two Philly schools to move into building owned by Drexel
Plan to sell Belmont Charter to its management organization is postponed due to concerns about a new state law.
WHYY NEWS Avi Wolfman-Arent and Makoto Manheim June 27, 2019 9:08 pm
Two West Philadelphia public schools are officially on the move, with plans to relocate in a building owned by Drexel University. Powel Elementary, a K-4 neighborhood school, and Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLAMS), a 5-8 school focused on project-based learning, will open the 2020-21 school year in a new facility located at 36th and Filbert Streets in Powelton Village. The School District will pay $7 million of the projected $38 million construction cost, and then pay Drexel a nominal rent of $12 a year after that. The agreement will last 35 years, according to a resolution approved Thursday night by the School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education. The unusual arrangement comes with an unusual, and circular, back story. This prime parcel of real estate once housed University City High School, which the district closed in 2013. The district then sold the property to Drexel, which will now build a school used by two district schools. The arrangement is reminiscent of the partnership the School District of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania forged in 2001, when Penn agreed to provide guidance and extra money for students at the newly created Sadie Alexander School, just beyond its campus.
Philly’s proposed plastic bag ban could get derailed after last-minute budget move by GOP lawmakers
Inquirer by Sean Walsh, Updated: June 27, 2019- 6:42 PM
Republican legislators in Harrisburg on Thursday added a last-minute amendment to the state budget package that could delay and potentially derail a proposal to ban Philadelphia stores from using plastic bags, a maneuver one City Council member called an unfair power grab. The provision would prohibit the state and local governments from passing new regulations on plastic bags for one year, while directing two state offices to study the economic and environmental impact of regulating plastic bags. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said he pushed for the provision because his district includes players on both sides of the issue: a plastics manufacturer, Milesburg-based Hilex Poly, and Ferguson Township, which is considering a fee on plastic bags. “In my own district, I have a municipality that’s looking at an impact fee, and also I have a manufacturer that makes plastic bags. So you hear from both sides," Corman said. “So we thought the best thing to do to help everyone move forward was to study it.” But by adding it as an amendment to the fiscal code, which must be approved for the state to enact its spending plan for next year, its backers essentially ensured its passage. Gov. Tom Wolf cannot veto the plastics language without rejecting the entire code, which would derail a $34 billion budget deal the Democrat spent weeks negotiating with the Republican-controlled legislature.
Armed teachers in Pa.’s schools? Groups on both sides of the gun debate say Senate bill would allow it
PA Capital Star By Elizabeth Hardison June 27, 2019
Shira Goodman and Kim Stolfer may not agree on much, but they recently found common ground on a school safety bill now before the state Senate. Goodman, leader of the gun control group CeaseFire PA, and Stolfer, president of the pro-gun Firearms Owners Against Crime, both say that a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, would grant schools more discretion in arming trained employees. That could mean deputizing teachers to carry firearms. “Could a teacher be able to carry a firearm if they met qualifications [under the bill]? We believe if a school board wanted that, the bill would enable it,” Stolfer said. That’s welcome news to Stolfer, who thinks Pennsylvania should arm its teachers to prevent deadly mass shootings. Goodman, on the other hand, argues that the proliferation of guns in schools will only endanger students. And she’s troubled that two groups with opposite philosophies on gun safety share the same interpretation of Regan’s bill.
Keeping ‘the lights on’: Pennsylvania’s libraries poised to get first state funding boost in a decade
PA Capital Star By Elizabeth Hardison June 28, 2019
A bipartisan effort among Pennsylvania lawmakers to bolster career readiness and workforce skills could be a boon to public libraries, which are due to get their first state funding increase in nearly a decade. The 2019-20 spending plan that Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign this week includes a $59 million allocation for Pennsylvania’s public library subsidy — a 9 percent bump from the current fiscal year that ends July 1, and the fund’s first increase since 2010. Advocates say it’s a crucial victory for public libraries, which provide thousands of Pennsylvanians with internet access to search for jobs or enroll in government services. “[State funding] is a significant portion of our operating income,” Karen Cullings, interim executive director of the Dauphin County Library System, said. “It really keeps the doors open and the lights on in a lot of ways.” Libraries across the state are still reeling from deep cuts sustained in 2003, when the General Assembly slashed the library subsidy. Many libraries reduced their hours or programs to trim costs.
Harrisburg School District receiver cleans house, ousts superintendent, solicitor, a dozen more jobs
By Christine Vendel | email@example.com Updated 6:38 AM; Posted Jun 27, 7:30 PM
The newly-appointed receiver of the Harrisburg School District cleaned house on Thursday, eliminating the positions of more than a dozen employees, including the entire business office and Human Resources Department on the same day the superintendent departed. The receiver confirmed Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney’s position was eliminated and that Knight-Burney had been collecting paychecks over the past year when she didn’t have a written contract. Pennsylvania state law requires all working superintendents to have written contracts. Also terminated was recently hired Solicitor James Ellison, the interim Business Manager Bilal Hasan and acting Human Resources Director Lance Freeman. The eliminations become effective at the end of the month. Ellison did not attend the meeting, but Hasan and Freeman were in attendance.
Receiver Janet Samuels made the announcement at a special school board meeting Thursday night, just hours after Knight-Burney sent an email to some staff members saying her time as district leader had “come to an end.”
“The district wanted the board to approve a $342 million budget with a 3.5% tax hike. By raising taxes that much, a taxpayer with a home valued at $110,000 would pay an extra $76 annually in property taxes. That budget also included an assumption that the charter schools would agree to a reduction in tuition payments that would erase the remaining $6 million deficit. The district has not yet asked charters to take a reduction, and Parker said they can say no.”
After several votes, Allentown School Board finally passes budget with 1.75% tax hike and plea for charter schools to take tuition reduction
By JACQUELINE PALOCHKO | THE MORNING CALL | JUN 28, 2019 | 1:00 AM
It took hours of contentious discussions, a plea to charter schools to help and a compromise among some school directors after several votes, but in the end, the Allentown School District finally passed a 2019-20 budget before its June 30 deadline. In a more than five-hour meeting Thursday night, the Allentown School Board approved a 2019-20 budget that calls for a 1.75% tax hike, and a request that the 24 charter and cyber charter schools Allentown students attend take a 10% reduction in tuition costs to help Allentown pass its budget. After multiple budget proposals being shot down by the board, directors eventually voted 5-3 to pass a budget. Directors Lisa Conover, Phoebe Harris and Cheryl Johnson Watts voted against it. Board Vice President Elizabeth Martinez was absent, meaning the board had only eight members and kept ending in a tie vote.
SE Delco raises taxes, holds off on staff cuts in budget
Delco Times By Kevin Tustin firstname.lastname@example.org June 28, 2019
FOLCROFT — The 2019-20 budget for the Southeast Delco School District was looking grim since introduced in late May with a slew of staff and program cuts on the chopping block to make up for a $2 million shortfall — this after a projected 3.4 percent tax increase. What was ultimately approved by a 7-1 vote of the school board Thursday night was a $85.6 million budget that includes a 3 percent tax increase that will bring the millage rate to 44.3467. The use of $1.9 million in fund balance was included in the budget to potentially offset the cuts that were being eyed to makeup for the shortfall. An additional $200,000 is anticipated from the state budget passed by the state House of Representatives earlier this week to fill in whatever shortfall may still remain. Board member Sheree Monroe cast the sole "no" vote. Tammi Forbes was not present. However, as Schools Superintendent Stephen Butz mentioned, if substantial state revenues don’t come in – a definitive figure will be seen when Gov. Tom Wolf signs the budget into law by the end of the week - the fund balance will be depleted at the end of the year and the district will have to look in July and August at what positions it will cut.
No room to grow: Crowded suburban Philly schools struggle to secure new land to build
WHYY By Robby Brod June 28, 2019
Thousands of people move to suburban Philadelphia every year, which means thousands of new students enrolled in public school systems. However, many of these school districts are already crowded, facing budget deficits, and in desperate need of more space to build new schools. And in heavily developed areas, finding space to build new classrooms has become a bigger challenge than paying for it. The Upper Darby School District in Delaware County says 108 middle school classes have more than 30 students in them, and many of them attend class in basements or trailers. Last year, a study by Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based educational research organization said the district is underfunded by 22%, and also noted that members of the community felt the school was even worse off than that. At the district’s Drexel Hill Middle School, students have been attending class for the past 15 years in trailers that were initially designed to be used for just five years.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris Clash Over Busing, Segregated Schools in Democratic Debate
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 27, 2019 11:53 PM
An intense dispute between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris about segregation in education and how Washington should address it highlighted the second night of the first debate among Democratic candidates for president. In the second hour of Thursday's 10-candidate debate, the California senator challenged Biden for what she called his opposition in the 1970s to busing as a strategy to help desegregated schools, a charge Biden rejected. The subsequent exchange underscored how racial segregation in education, as well as Biden's ongoing defense of his relationship with segregationists in Congress decades ago, could prove to be a potent issue in the Democratic Party primary. The Democratic candidates also stressed their support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a 2012 executive order signed by President Barack Obama that provides legal protections for nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants, including thousands of public school students and teachers. Otherwise, they mostly brushed lightly over K-12 policy topics. Biden did emphasize his support for additional school aid. And a few candidates also used gun violence at schools to push for additional restrictions on firearms.
The deadline to submit a cover letter, resume and application is August 19, 2019.
Become a 2019-2020 PSBA Advocacy Ambassador
PSBA is seeking applications for two open Advocacy Ambassador positions. Candidates should have experience in day-to-day functions of a school district, on the school board, or in a school leadership position. The purpose of the PSBA Advocacy Ambassador program is to facilitate the education and engagement of local school directors and public education stakeholders through the advocacy leadership of the ambassadors. Each Advocacy Ambassador will be responsible for assisting PSBA in achieving its advocacy goals. To achieve their mission, ambassadors will be kept up to date on current legislation and PSBA positions on legislation. The current open positions will cover PSBA Sections 3 and 4, and Section 7.
PSBA Advocacy Ambassadors are independent contractors representing PSBA and serve as liaisons between PSBA and their local elected officials. Advocacy Ambassadors also commit to building strong relationships with PSBA members with the purpose of engaging the designated members to be active and committed grassroots advocates for PSBA’s legislative priorities.
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
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