Thursday, January 29, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 29: Beaver County Supts: Funding formula needed for public education

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 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, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, 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 and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public EducationAre you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding


Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 29, 2015:
Beaver County Supts: Funding formula needed for public education



Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, Central Montco Tech HS, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA



"Pam Lenz, a former acting superintendent of the Iroquois School District, is a "circuit rider" with the Pennsylvania Campaign for Fair Education Funding, charged with boosting awareness of school funding and of the need for a new formula.  It's important to have voices from northwest Pennsylvania represented at the hearings, she said.  "The ultimate goal is really for them to realize that every part of the state is unique," Lenz said. "(Commission members) need to listen to the voice of every part of the state when they're considering what formula they're going to recommend" and how the formula will take into account the differences of districts across the state."
Erie-area superintendents to speak at school funding hearing
By Erica Erwin 814-870-1846 Erie Times-News January 29, 2015 12:01 AM
Two local superintendents are adding their voices to a chorus of school district leaders calling for a new way to fund education.  Erie schools Superintendent Jay Badams and Bill Nichols, superintendent of the Corry Area School District, will testify at a hearing of the Basic Education Funding Commission today in Greenville.  The 15-member commission has been holding hearings throughout the state as it works to develop and recommend to the General Assembly a new formula for distributing basic education funding to districts.

"Pennsylvania ranks 43rd out of 50 states in the percentage it provides toward the total cost of its public school system. For example, Maryland funds 41 percent of public school education costs; Ohio, 43.2 percent; Delaware, 58.6 percent; West Virginia, 55.8 percent; and Pennsylvania, 34.5 percent."
Funding formula needed for public education
Beaver County Times Online Letter by Beaver County School Superintendents Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:45 pm
Providing a quality education for all students is a shared responsibility among everyone. There are two efforts ongoing in Pennsylvania that are focusing on this responsibility. There is the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission, co-chaired by state Sen. Pat Brown, R-16, Allentown, and state Rep. Mike Vereb, R-150, Montgomery County, which is holding hearings around Pennsylvania to hear the public's views. In addition, the William Penn Foundation, working in concert with over 40 other organizations, has organized the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to provide grass-roots support for a funding formula.
The research from these two initiatives has revealed that Pennsylvania is one of only three states (Delaware and North Carolina are the others) that doesn't have a funding formula for supporting education. Additionally, Pennsylvania ranks 43rd out of 50 states in the percentage it provides toward the total cost of its public school system. For example, Maryland funds 41 percent of public school education costs; Ohio, 43.2 percent; Delaware, 58.6 percent; West Virginia, 55.8 percent; and Pennsylvania, 34.5 percent.
 As educational leaders we know the importance of a state funding formula that is equitable, adequate, predictable and accountable in preparing our students to compete in a global society. We encourage everyone to follow the work of the Basic Education Funding Commission  --http://basiceducationfundingcommission.pasenategop.com/ -- and the Campaign for Fair Education Funding -- http://fairfundingpa.org.
Beaver County school superintendents

Starting Thursday, Jan. 29, PennLive will run a series of stories the decade-long, multi-million dollar campaign by for-profit schools to to alter laws and education in Pennsylvania.
How do charter schools affect education in Pennsylvania?
By Kari Larsen | klarsen@pennlive.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM, updated January 28, 2015 at 12:51 PM
York may become one of the few cities in America to privatize an entire school district.
Facing a $20 million budget deficit from 2014, York City School District failed to implement a recovery plan designed by chief recovery officer David Meckley. The state Department of Education then pursued receivership, which would transfer almost all functions of a school board to one person: Meckley.  Meckley plans to send York City School District's 7,500 students to a single for-profit operator, Charter Schools USA.  In response to this news, Pennsylvania State Education Association President Michael Crossey said, "York's citizens don't want this, the elected school board doesn't want this, and parents and educators don't want this."

"State Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York County), newly-minted as majority chair of the house education committee, has scheduled a hearing for the bill in Harrisburg on February 12."
Should Pa. require students to pass standardized tests to graduate high school?
WHYY Newsworks BY KEVIN MCCORRY JANUARY 28, 2015
The clock is ticking.
By 2017, in order to graduate high school in Pennsylvania, students must pass three state standardized tests: algebra, literature and biology.  Based on most recent student scores — especially in biology — if trends continue, Pennsylvania will soon see far fewer of its students walking down the aisle in gap and gown.
In order to preempt that reality, state Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin County) has introduced a bill that would repeal the state-mandated graduation requirement, leaving the decision to local school districts.  "The children of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, they need to learn, they need to be assessed, but when we've gone so far that we end up handcuffing our educational system with really an overwhelming amount of standardized assessment," said Tobash. "We need to stop and put the brakes on here, take a look at it."  The bill would also halt the creation and implementation of the seven other subject-specific Keystone exams called for by existing state law.

Parents United prevails in getting BCG school-closings list
the notebook commentary By Helen Gym on Jan 28, 2015 06:20 PM
What could possibly justify the closing of Northeast High School, the largest school in the city and each year bursting at the seams? Why would anyone suggest closing four elementary schools in Olney, a neighborhood that once housed some of the most overcrowded schools in the District?
We may not find out the answers to these questions, but we know now that these were some of the ludicrous ideas proposed by the Boston Consulting Group in a long-secret 2012 report presented in a private meeting to the School Reform Commission.

York City School Board votes to renew Lincoln Charter School's charter for 5 years
It voted unanimously to renew Lincoln's charter for another five years
York Daily Record By Dylan Segelbaum dsegelbaum@ydr.com @dylan_segelbaum on Twitter UPDATED:   01/28/2015 10:51:27 PM EST
More than an hour and a half before the York City School Board was set to meet on Wednesday, president Margie Orr stepped to the podium at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  To a round of applause, she told the crowd of about 50 activists who had gathered there for a rally against the state takeover of the district that their fight wasn't over. They're working to implement programs to improve the district, she said, and the decision about who controls the district is now in the hands of Commonwealth Court.  "We are in this together," Orr said. "Our kids deserve the best that we can give them, and this board is going to see that they get the best."
Then, at 6:30 p.m. at William Penn Senior High School, the board — seated at a different table a few feet across from the state-appointed chief recovery officer David Meckley — voted unanimously to renew Lincoln Charter School's charter for another five years. During the meeting, there was virtually no discussion, and it wrapped up just after 7 p.m.

Philly's Truebright charter appeals shutdown order to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
WHYY Newsworks BY LAURA BENSHOFF JANUARY 29, 2015
Charter schools are supposed to be nimble and innovative, but the process to close an underperforming charter is anything but.  Six weeks after the Charter Appeal Board voted unanimously (7-0) to deny Truebright Academy Science Charter's bid to stay open, the school in the Olney neighborhood of North Philadelphia has taken its case all the way to Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court.  Truebright is one of five Philadelphia charter schools currently going through the non-renewal process.  It can take years from when a school district announces the intent not to renew a school's charter until the classroom doors actually shut permanently.

Charter school founder's mental competency questioned in court
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 1:08 AM POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 5:09 PM
Does charter school founder Dorothy June Brown, 77, have such memory problems that she is incompetent to be retried on federal charges that she defrauded the schools she founded of $6.3 million?  Three psychiatrists and psychologists retained by Brown's lawyers and the court offered differing opinions in a hearing that began Tuesday before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick.

Former staffers sue shuttered charter school
REGINA MEDINA, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER MEDINAR@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5985 POSTED: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 3:01 AM
A GROUP OF FORMER employees of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school, its founder and others for unpaid compensation, the Daily News has learned.  About 75 to 150 ex-Palmer staffers are expected to be represented in the suit and are seeking several thousand to $14,000 each in damages, said their lawyer, Joshua Rubinsky, with the law firm Brodie & Rubinsky, PC. The complaint was filed Monday in Common Pleas Court.  The suit states that Palmer did not pay for work performed during Nov. 1, 2014, to Jan. 15.

Bethlehem school board approves new teachers contract with one-year freeze
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 28, 2015 at 9:36 PM, updated January 29, 2015 at 12:29 AM
The Bethlehem Area School Board Wednesday night approved a new three-year contract with its teachers union that includes a one year salary freeze.  The Bethlehem Education Association has been working under an expired contract since Aug. 31, 2014.  Teachers agreed to a one-year salary freeze for the 2014-15 school year, 3.1 percent the next year and then a 2.9 percent increase in the final year, board President Michael Faccinetto said. It amounts to an average raise of 2 percent annually over the contract.

"The additional funds are needed to cover a $1.4 million increase in wages, and the $1.29 million net impact of PSERS increases, which the district does not control, said board President Denis Gray."
Haverford School Board wrangling with 3.57 tax increase
By Lois Puglionesi, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/28/15, 11:31 PM EST |
HAVERFORD >> Although it’s early in the school district’s budgeting process for 2015-16, the proposed preliminary budget school officials are considering includes a 3.57 percent real estate tax rate increase that would raise millage from 28.6692 to 29.6920 mills.  The new rate would translate to about a $163 annual increase for a property assessed at $160,000.
In his presentation to school officials last week, business manager Richard Henderson said 3.57 percent is the maximum allowable increase, with referendum exceptions included.
This year’s Act 1 Index enables the district to increase taxes 1.9 percent, to yield an additional $1.7 million in revenues. Officials are requesting referendum exceptions for special education and Public School Employees’ Retirement System costs, totaling $1.4 million.

Rendell presents $500 check to Chestnutwold fifth-graders
By Lois Puglionesi, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/28/15, 11:28 PM EST |
ARDMORE >> Former Gov. Ed Rendell visited Chestnutwold Elementary School on Wednesday to congratulate and present a $500 check to a fifth-grade class that recently placed second in the Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics Citizenship Challenge essay competition.
Now in its second year, the Citizenship Challenge invites fourth- and fifth-grade students in the five-county Philadelphia region to voice their opinions on a current issue. This year’s contest asked students how they would increase voter turnout. Online voting, mandatory voting and expanding voting days/times were among suggested points to ponder.

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 21 - 27, 2015
Fairtest Submitted by fairtest on January 27, 2015 - 12:43pm 
Demonstrating another surge of support for assessment reform as the Spring 2015 testing season nears, this week's stories about the movement against standardized exam overuse and misuse come from more than 40% of the 50 states. The news is reinforced by several excellent analytic pieces and opinion columns (back issues of these weekly updates are archived at: http://fairtest.org/news/other)  In addition to keeping the heat on state and local policy-makers, now is the time to let your U.S. Senators and Representative know you support a significant reduction in federal testing mandates, an end to test-based consequences for students, teachers or schools and more funding for better forms of assessment. Please make those calls and send your emails today!

"A majority of parents polled, 82 percent, said they want legislators to pass a testing "Bill of Rights," requiring transparency on high-stakes testing, including how much they cost taxpayers and how student data will be used. Parents also want the ability to opt their students out of tests — 66 percent said they support having a parental right of refusal."
Why Does the Public Hate Standardized Tests?
JerseyJazzman Blog Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, released a bombshell of a poll yesterday; click through to see the raw results for all voters and just for parents. My guess is that once we clear away the snow, we're going to be talking about these results for a long time.  nj.com has a breakdown:

Doctors Enlisted to Deliver Early-Literacy Message
Education Week By Lillian Mongeau Published Online: January 20, 2015
Doctors are the newest group of proselytizers to join the national Too Small to Fail campaign encouraging parents to talk, read, and sing to their infants and toddlers as a key precursor to literacy.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recognized the importance of telling parents to talk to and read with their children. But it has only recently begun advising its doctors to deliver that message for the first time at a child's two-month checkup. What has been less clear, and never studied systematically, is how to deliver that information in a way that sticks during the 12- to 18-minute visits physicians generally have with families for well-baby checkups.
That's where Too Small to Fail comes in. 

PA Basic Education Funding Commission website

Sign-up for weekly email updates from the Campaign
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding website

Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 28: Wanted: A fair funding formula/Prelim budgets show pension impact

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3525 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, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, business leaders, 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 and LinkedIn

These daily emails are archived and searchable at http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.org
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public EducationAre you a member?
The Keystone State Education Coalition is an endorsing member of The Campaign for Fair Education Funding


Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup for January 28, 2015:
Wanted: A fair funding formula/Prelim budgets show pension impact



Upcoming Basic Education Funding Commission hearings scheduled in Mercer County, Montgomery County and Dauphin County
PA Basic Education Funding Commission website
Thursday, January 29, 2015, 10 am Greenville Junior/Senior High School 9 Donation Road, Greenville, PA 16125
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10 am Montgomery County, Central Montco Tech HS, 821 Plymouth Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 11 am Dauphin County, location TBA



General Assembly's Education Funding Commission to meet Thursday in Greenville
Sharon Herald Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 11:30 am
The Basic Education Funding Commission will hold a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at Greenville Junior/Senior High School, 9 Donation Road, Greenville, state Rep. Mark Longietti has announced.   "This hearing will allow school officials from Mercer and neighboring counties to provide input about how the state distributes money to help support basic education," said Longietti, who is a member of the commission. "The hearing is open to the public, and we have set aside time at the conclusion of the meeting to listen to comments from local residents."
 The agenda for the hearing is:
 10:05 a.m. - Testimony from Greenville Area School District Superintendent Mark Ferrara, Sharon City School District Superintendent Michael Calla, Hermitage School District Superintendent Daniel J. Bell and Sharpsville Area School District Superintendent Brad Ferko;
11:05 a.m. - Testimony from Austin Area School District Acting Superintendent Jerome Sasala;
11:35 a.m. - Testimony from Propel Schools Foundation founder and Executive Director Jeremy Resnick and Keystone Charter School CEO Mike Gentile;
12:15 p.m. - Testimony from Erie School District Superintendent Jay Badams and Corry School District Superintendent Bill Nichols;
Public comments.
 The bipartisan, bicameral 15-member commission was created by Act 51 of 2014, and consists of senators and representatives from across Pennsylvania.

"One of those issues includes state lands. Sasala said that 10 percent of land in the Austin Area School District is taxable; the remainder is owned by the state."
Sasala to speak on education funding before state panel
By ALEX DAVIS Bradford Era Reporter a.davis@bradfordera.com Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 10:00 am
An administrator from the smallest public school district in the four-county region — and the state — will testify about a big issue on Thursday in front of state legislators and leaders.
Jerry Sasala, who is the acting superintendent/principal in the Austin Area School District, will focus on a basic education funding formula when he speaks during a Basic Education Commission hearing in Greenville, Mercer County.  “It’s very vital that they listen,” Sasala told The Era on Monday night.  That commission is made up of state senators and representatives and the governor’s administration who are responsible for developing and recommending to the General Assembly a new formula for dispersing state funding for basic education to Pennsylvania school districts. Pennsylvania currently has no basic education formula, relying instead on a combination of previous legislation.  And especially for Potter and Cameron counties, there are plenty of unique challenges, Sasala said. He knows both counties well, being an administrator at the Austin area district and a former administrator and music teacher in Cameron County.

Austin Area School District Supt. Jerry Sasala will testify before the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission in Greensburg on Jan. 29th
Potter County Today January 2015
Austin Area School District in rural Potter County is a poster child for the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition, with about 90 percent of its real estate tax-exempt due to state ownership. On Thursday, Jan. 29, Jerry Sasala will testify about the inequities during an appearance before the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission in Greensburg. It’s comprised of 12 Senators and Representatives, as well as the State Education Secretary, State Budget Secretary and State Deputy Secretary of Administration. “Our school district is severely stressed by the high proportion of real estate that is owned by the state and is thus tax-exempt,” Sasala will tell the commission. “By law, school districts, municipalities and county governments depend on the real estate tax for the bulk of their necessary operating revenue. The system is unfair, since property owners face a burden that is clearly disproportional and unfair.”

Maris Grove, Foxfield residents air Garnet Valley tax concerns
By Susan L. Serbin, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/27/15, 11:07 PM EST |
CONCORD >> Senior citizens attended the Garnet Valley School Board meeting by the busload — literally.  A van from Maris Grove brought residents who joined peers from Foxfield. Adding a large contingent of teachers showing solidarity for their contract issue, the Concord Elementary School gym was filled with more than 200 individuals.  The turnout in attendance reflected two intertwined issues — preparation of the 2015-16 budget and the yet-to-be-settled teachers’ contract.  Foxfield and Maris Grove are two of the five communities that are home to 55-plus residents who make up an estimated 40 percent of taxpayers. Several of their residents addressed the board with concerns that taxes have become burdensome.
“I can’t pay my taxes and I can’t move out,” said Foxfield resident Tina Lampert, adding that seniors should be afforded tax breaks.

Upper Darby preliminary budget calls for 3.6 percent tax hike
By Linda Reilly, Delco Times Correspondent POSTED: 01/27/15, 11:07 PM EST |
UPPER DARBY >> The first “snapshot” peek at the 2015-2016 Upper Darby School District budget was presented at a committee meeting Tuesday.  Business Manager Ed Smith presented the current status of the budget document in keeping with the Act 1 time line.
The $180.4 million budget calls for a 3.6 percent tax increase, or 1.2 mills, for a total millage rate of 35.8 mills. Homeowners in the communities of Clifton Heights, Millbourne and Upper Darby paying $3,459 this year will pay $3,584, an additional $125, if the proposed budget is adopted as presented.  “The purpose of having a budget at this time is due to following the Act 1 of 2006 budget adoption process, as we did for the last four years,” Smith said. “The timetable calls for a preliminary budget to be made available to the public no later than Jan. 29.

Rose Tree Media to keep taxes within Act 1 index
By LESLIE KROWCHENKO, Delco Times POSTED: 01/27/15, 11:03 PM EST |
MIDDLETOWN >> The Rose Tree Media School Board voted unanimously to commit to a tax increase no higher than the district’s Act 1 index of 1.9 percent and not seek exceptions in conjunction with the 2015-2016 budget.  Set by the state, the index determines the maximum increase which can be levied by each school district, unless a higher rate is approved by voters in a referendum or application for exceptions is made to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The board made a request for the special education exception in conjunction with the 2008-2009 budget, when taxes were raised 4.8 percent.  “Act I has been in place for 10 years and only once in that time have we applied for an exception,” said vice president and finance committee Chairman Bill O’Donnell. “We will not be applying for any exceptions for 2015-2016.”

"The $28.3 million proposed budget was $934,918 higher than the 2014-15 budget, with $570,742 of that increase blamed on the district's state-mandated retirement contributions."
Pen Argyl Area School District proposed 2015-16 budget rejected
Lehigh Valley Live By John Best on January 27, 2015 at 10:07 PM
The Pen Argyl Area School Board has rejected the administration's preliminary 2015-16 budget.
By a vote of 3-4 Tuesday night, the board did not approve the proposed budget that called for a 3.8 percent property tax hike.  For the owner of a home assessed at $50,000 the tax increase would have meant an additional $93 a year.  Board members Robert Rutt, Christopher Graham and Bryan Trinkley voted in favor of the budget.  John Dally Jr., Darrin Evans, Joseph Gennusa and Ethan Habrial voted against the measure. Bryan Scott and Domenic Martino were absent.
"The taxpayers keep getting hammered," Habrial said after the vote. "It's got to stop some place."
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/slate-belt/index.ssf/2015/01/pen_argyl_area_school_district_16.html#incart_river

"Early budget figures call for a $43.3 million spending plan that does not tap those reserves, despite some of the fund balance being designated towards easing skyrocket employee pension contributions.  Next year brings a $979,000 increase in the district's employee pension obligation. The state typically reimburses the district for about half of that."
Saucon Valley School Board commits to staying under state tax hike cap
By Sara K. Satullo | The Express-Times Follow on Twitter on January 28, 2015 at 6:18 AM
The Saucon Valley School Board voted Tuesday night to keep any property tax increase below its 1.9 percent state set cap on annual tax hikes.  The board has made the same pledge for the last six years and later passed final budgets that did not increase taxes.

Hanover schools set max tax increase for 2015-16
The district will release full budget for the next school year in April
By Eric Blum eblum@eveningsun.com @Eric_M_Blum on Twitter UPDATED:   01/27/2015 07:24:55 PM EST
Members of the Hanover Public School District school board plans to raise taxes a maximum of 2.3 percent for 2015-16.  For the eighth year in a row, the school board decided to not raise taxes above the state-set index. This year's vote was unanimous.

"The district's shortfall stems largely from a $1.07 million increase to the district's mandatory Public School Employees' Retirement System contribution. Some of that will be returned through a state subsidy, making the increase roughly $538,000 for the district, Hunt said."
Gettysburg school board considers tax hike
Gettysburg Area School District is facing a $1.5 million budget shortfall
By Mark Walters mwalters@eveningsun.com @walt_walters on Twitter POSTED:   01/22/2015 05:22:52 PM EST
Faced with a $1.5 million deficit, the Gettysburg school board left the door open for a tax increase beyond the state's limit to help balance Gettysburg Area School District's 2015-16 budget.
Board members voted Jan. 20 to apply for the tax exception, which requires approval from the state's Department of Education. The board was also presented with the district's preliminary budget, a $57.81 million spending plan.

Wanted: A fair funding formula
In Our Opinion By the Notebook on Jan 27, 2015 12:06 PM February 2015 Vol. 22. No. 4
Since last July, a Basic Education Funding Commission has been collecting testimony across the state, charged by Harrisburg with developing a rational system for distributing state education aid. Their work is urgently needed.  Not only is current state funding for most Pennsylvania districts inadequate; it is unpredictable and subject to political manipulation. And any system that makes taxpayers in poor districts pay tax rates two or three times higher than in affluent districts and still end up with less revenue is deeply flawed. The system relies far too much on local tax dollars.
But simply engineering a consistent way to divvy up existing state dollars will not resolve the fundamental flaws in Pennsylvania funding. To be successful, the commission must develop a plan that reflects the actual cost to educate children with varieties of needs. The state has set performance standards for schools and students, and hundreds of districts are struggling to meet them because of inadequate resources. In districts with large numbers of low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities, funding needs are much greater. Districts like Philadelphia that operate a dual system of traditional and charter schools also incur higher costs.

"According to sixth grade Feltonville teacher Kelley Collings, over 100 parents at the school have decided to opt their children out of the testing this year. To put that number in context, only 16 students in the entire city of Philadelphia opted out of the PSSA in 2012."
One of the 'Feltonville Six' speaks up about right to opt out
WHYY Newsworks PHILLY PARENTING  A BLOG BY JEN BRADLEY JANUARY 27, 2015
in Philadelphia have taken a stand against high-stakes standardized testing. Using their legal right to opt out, one in five parents at Feltonville are now refusing the spring administration of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSAs) for their children.  The parents and students at Feltonville are part of a growing national movement. Many in the "opt-out" movement are dissatisfied with the use of curriculum as preparation for testing, with school funding decisions based on student performance, and with the for-profit politics of assessment.
The Feltonville group is joining the voices of parents, educators and activists around the country who are outraged by the disproportionate affect that high-stakes testing so often has on low-income students, students of color, students with special needs and English language learners.

 “We created a basic education funding commission, and they’re currently going around the state holding hearings and gathering information on that topic,” Causer said. “As far as changing the formula, I’m going to be there looking out for our rural schools. Often, their idea of change is taking away from one area and giving to another. Our circumstances in rural areas are different. 
Lawmakers curious to hear Wolf budget plan, education funding
Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 10:00 am
By AMANDA NICHOLS Bradford Era Reporter a.nichols@bradfordera.com
Local lawmakers are looking forward to hearing the budget address by Pennsylvania’s newly-elected Gov. Tom Wolf — especially his proposal for state education funding, which was a focus of his campaign.  Wolf and his campaign have stated his proposals will lead to the first income tax cut for middle class families in more than 20 years, help reduce property taxes, increase education funding and improve the economy.
Local legislators said they would support bigger budgets for public schools, but they want to know where that money would come from when the state could be facing as much as a $2 billion budget deficit.  “I know the governor in his campaign said he wanted to increase funding for education. I’d certainly be supportive of that. I just don’t know where he anticipates getting the money,” said state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint. “We may have a $2 billion deficit, it’s going to be a tough budget year.”  Meanwhile, there is a push in Harrisburg to change the funding formula for public schools, according to Causer.

2014 brought Philly charters a chance at expansion
The District must decide by Feb. 21 what to do with 40 new applicants. Meanwhile, two charters closed midyear.
the notebook By Dan Hardy on Jan 27, 2015 09:21 AM
As 2014 began, it looked as if it might be the year in which the state legislature would finally revise the nearly two-decade-old charter law.  There was anticipation that Republican legislators would try to boost then-Gov. Tom Corbett’s poll numbers – sagging mostly due to his education policy – by tackling this.  Hope for change was particularly fervent in Philadelphia, where charters educate about a third of public school children and consume about 30 percent of the District’s budget. District officials sought revisions that would ease the financial pressure from charter expansion.  However, 2014 turned out not to be the year for an overhaul of the charter law. Still, there were important developments that affected charter funding and policy – with major consequences for the School District.

DN Editorial: A BETTER WAY FOR SCHOOLS? An elected school board might not improve on SRC, but taxing power would
Philly Daily News Editorial Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 3:01 AM
SHOULD the School Reform Commission be dissolved in favor of an elected school board?
Newly elected Gov. Wolf supports the idea. So does a group of vocal education activists in the city. Some mayoral candidates are on board with the idea. The teachers union would vastly prefer an elected board to the governance system we have now - especially after the School Reform Commission's recent attempt to cancel union contracts, a move blocked last week by Commonwealth Court.  Despite support from some quarters, it's not a sure thing.
For one thing, the governor doesn't have the power to abolish the SRC; only the SRC can dissolve itself, a point of law that some Harrisburg Democrats unsuccessfully tried to alter back in October.  But before we even think of diving off this high board, let's be sure to take a good look at what lies below.

Truebright Gulen charter fights for its future
MARTHA WOODALL, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 5:27 PM
Truebright Science Academy Charter School is ramping up its fight to stay open past June.
The Olney school in Olney filed a petition in Commonwealth Court on Monday, challenging the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's 2013 decision not to renew Truebright's charter on several grounds, including poor academic performance.  The school decided to take its battle to Commonwealth Court because the State Charter Appeal Board had voted unanimously in December to uphold the SRC's decision and ordered the school to close at the end of the current school year.

Pottstown hosts fair school funding expert on Thursday
By Mercury Staff POSTED: 01/27/15, 6:02 PM EST |
POTTSTOWN >> Perhaps the phrase “joint school board/borough council meeting” might not sound like how you would like to spend a Thursday evening, but you might want to think again if you car about fair school funding.  Right now in Pennsylvania, the commonwealth provides an average of 34 percent of a local school budget. The national average is closer to 44 percent.  That makes Pennsylvania school districts over-reliant on local property taxes and, as many area residents know, not all tax bases are created equal.
Further, that state funding is distributed unevenly and often, districts with a struggling tax base — like Pottstown and Daniel Boone — get even less state aid per student than wealthier districts.  Last year, former Gov. Tom Corbett set up a task force to examine the idea of creating a fair funding formula for Pennsylvania public schools, like most other states have.  Which is where the joint meeting comes in.

Learn More About Fair School Funding- Pottstown Thursday
Digital Notebook Blog by Evan Brandt Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The meeting will be held at Rupert Elementary School, starting at 7 p.m.
I know, I know; the phrase "joint school board/borough council meeting" does not have you rushing to your calendar to check your schedule.  But maybe you should  -- at least if you care about fair public school funding, an issue which is currently giving Pottstown the very short end of a very sharp stick.  Right now in Pennsylvania, the amount of resources your public schools can bring to bear on your child's education has more to do with your zip code than the innovative financing of the administration.  In fact the innovation is more likely to be found in places like Pottstown and Daniel Boone school districts where enfeebled tax bases make the raising of local public revenues both burdensome and unequal when compared with wealthier locales.
In a state where about 34 percent of public school funding comes from the state -- the national average is closer to 44 percent -- that means local taxes make the difference.

Allegheny County school districts’ occupational, physical therapists in jeopardy
By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette January 28, 2015 12:00 AM
Occupational and physical therapists who are employed by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit but work at the majority of the school districts in the county will be switched from full-time, salaried employees to hourly employees without benefits after an audit found a $1.1 million deficit in the program.  The change will take place Sunday and the AIU is waiting to hear how many of the therapists will return to work under their new terms of employment.
The annual independent audit of the agency’s $167 million budget performed by the accounting firm Maher Duessel also showed that the intermediate unit’s reserve fund, which held $23.3 million as of June 30, is down by $12.4 million since June 2012.

Montessori raises offer despite repeated refusal
Erie Times-News By Erica Erwin  814-870-1846 Erie Times-News January 27, 2015 12:05 AM
Montessori Regional Charter School is raising its offer to buy a Millcreek Township school, despite the district's stated refusal to deal with the charter school and a lawyer's claim that the charter is wasting taxpayers' money by pursuing the sale.  In the latest development in what has become a persistent effort by Montessori, charter lawyer Tom Pendleton said Monday that the charter would transfer ownership of its Sterrettania Road site to the district, on top of its original $1.1 million offer to buy the Ridgefield Elementary School.

Pennsylvania's teacher pension system scores D plus, National Council on Teacher Quality says
Trib Live By Megan Harris Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, 10:54 p.m.
Young teachers just joining the Pennsylvania education system may not see much bang for their pension buck, according to a report issued Tuesday.  Pennsylvania's teacher pension system carries the third highest unfunded liability in the country, findings from the National Council on Teacher Quality show. Pennsylvania ranks seventh in the nation if that $32.6 billion liability is apportioned per student.  “There's this perception that teacher salaries are low because they have these great benefits, but that isn't always true,” said Sandi Jacobs, the report's author and NCTQ vice president. “In most states, Pennsylvania included, the financial health is questionable at best.”
Teacher Pension Policy in Pennsylvania
A report card on the sustainability, flexibility and fairness of state teacher pension systems
National Council on Teacher Quality | January 2015

"Our nation's grassroots democracy was founded on the principle that all children, regardless of ZIP code, deserve access to a world-class education. Nine out of 10 school-age children today are enrolled in public schools, which are their gateway to the future. Choice absent accountability can hurt vulnerable students when the choice turns out to be a bad one. Unfortunately, the "choice" movement -- and its glossy public relations campaign that masks flaws by hyping "empowerment" -- jeopardizes opportunity for all students, ultimately harming our nation's global readiness and economic prosperity."
'Choice' Denying Opportunity?
Huffington Post by Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Posted: 01/27/2015 2:53 pm EST
This week is National School Choice Week, self-described as "an unprecedented opportunity to shine a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children."
Ironically, "opportunity" for America's schoolchildren is what National School Choice Week places at risk. The further irony is "choice" can mean public tax dollars siphoned away from community schools to subsidize for-profit ventures. Vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools not governed by local school boards create a secondary, profit-driven system of education that strains limited resources and risks re-segregating schools, economically and socially, by admitting only certain, top-performing students.

Reducing Our Obscene Level of Child Poverty
New York Times Opinion by Charles M. Blow JAN. 28, 2015
I’m not someone who believes that poverty can ever truly be ended — I’m one of those “the poor will always be with you” types — but I do believe that the ranks of the poor can and must be shrunk and that the effects of poverty can and must be ameliorated.  And there is one area above all others where we should feel a moral obligation to reduce poverty as much as possible and to soften its bite: poverty among children.  People may disagree about the choices parents make — including premarital sex and out-of-wedlock births. People may disagree about access to methods of family planning — including contraception and abortion. People may disagree about the size and role of government — including the role of safety-net programs.
But surely we can all agree that no child, once born, should suffer through poverty. Surely we can all agree that working to end child poverty — or at least severely reduce it — is a moral obligation of a civilized society.  And yet, 14.7 million children in this country are poor, and 6.5 million of them are extremely poor (living below half the poverty line).

Study Suggests Using Poverty as a Factor in Teacher Evaluation
Education Week Teacher By Jordan Moeny on January 26, 2015 5:00 PM
forthcoming study by University of Missouri researchers finds that accounting for factors like poverty when comparing schools could lead to a more "effective and equitable" teacher-evaluation system.  The study compares a so-called "proportional evaluation" system with two other methods of teacher evaluation: A basic value-added model and one in which the performance of individual students is compared to that of their peers. Unlike the other models, proportional evaluation takes into consideration factors outside of the classroom, including school resources and the socioeconomic backgrounds of students.

Senate Ed. Panel Unlikely to Require Teacher Evaluations in NCLB Overhaul
Education Week Politics K-12 Blog By Lauren Camera on January 27, 2015 1:40 PM
Washington Although members of the Senate education committee agreed at a hearing Tuesday that teacher evaluations are essential for a thriving public education system, it's unlikely that the forthcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will include specific requirements.  Republicans, including Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Washington shouldn't mandate such policies, while Democrats, including ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., were wary of increasing the role student test scores play in evaluations and how those evaluations are used to compensate teachers.

States Move to Make Citizenship Exams a Classroom Aid
New York Times By RICK ROJAS and MOTOKO RICH JAN. 27, 2015
PHOENIX — Like high school civics students around the country, the juniors and seniors in Darcy White’s government class here will have to take a final exam. But these students — and all others in Arizona — will soon face an extra hurdle: To graduate, they will have to pass thetest that is given to immigrants who want to become United States citizens, a multiple-choice exam that includes such questions as “What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?” and “What did Susan B. Anthony do?”  Ms. White, for one, has reservations about the test. She already loses several days of instruction time to standardized testing, she said, and this new requirement is another intrusion. “Every teacher will tell you a test is not a measure of what a kid knows,” said Ms. White, who has taught for 17 years, adding, “Just because I think it’s easy and I think my kids will do well is no guarantee.”


Thorough and Efficient: Pennsylvania Education Funding Lawsuit website
Arguing that our state has failed to ensure that essential resources are available for all of our public school students to meet state academic standards.

Register Now! EPLC 2015 Regional Workshops for School Board Candidates and Others
The Education Policy and Leadership Center, with the Cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO), will conduct A Series of Regional Full-Day Workshops for 2015 Pennsylvania School Board Candidates.  Incumbents, non-incumbents, campaign supporters and all interested voters are invited to participate in these workshops.
Pittsburgh Region Saturday, February 21, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA  15120
Harrisburg Region Saturday, March 7, 2015– 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Headquarters, 400 Bent Creek Boulevard, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Philadelphia Region Saturday, March 14, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, 2 W. Lafayette Street, Norristown, PA 19401

PILCOP: Children with Emotional Problems: Avoiding the Juvenile Justice System, and What Does Real Help Look Like?
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:00 -- 4:00 P.M.
This session will help you navigate special education in order to assist children at home not receiving services, those in the foster care system or those in the juvenile court system. CLE and Act 48 credit is available.  This session is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Policy and Practice, a Pre-approved Provider of Continuing Education for Pennsylvania licensed social workers.  Click here to purchase tickets  

NPE 2015 Annual Conference – Chicago April 24 - 26 – Early Bird Special Registration Open!
Early-bird discounted Registration for the Network for Public Education’s Second Annual Conference is now available at this address:
These low rates will last for the month of January.
The event is being held at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, and there is a link on the registration page for special hotel registration rates. Here are some of the event details.
There will be a welcoming social event  7 pm Friday night, at or near the Drake Hotel — details coming soon.   Featured speakers will be:
§         Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
§         Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
§         Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
§         Diane Ravitch in conversation with
§         Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and
§         Randi Weingarten, AFT President
§         Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union