EPLC Education Notebook – Monday, May 16, 2011

Content in this edition:
2011-2012 State Budget Watch
Pennsylvania Policymakers

– House
– Senate
Clarification

Reports
EPLC News

Datebook

The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at http://www.eplc.org/category/education-notebook/.

Polls are open on TUESDAY, MAY 17 from 7:00 AM TO 8:00 PM.  Candidates for school board are on the ballot in all districts except Philadelphia.

2011-2012

House

On May 10, the House approved House Bill 1330 (Rep. Thomas Quigley, R-146) a proposal to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by increasing the available tax credits to businesses donating to Scholarship Organizations (ESO), Pre-K Scholarship Organizations (PSO) and Educational Improvement Organizations (EIO) by a vote of 190-7.  The measure has been reported as the House’s alternative to Senate Bill 1, which would establish a tuition voucher program and expand the EITC program.  One Republican senator described the bill as “DOA” since it did not deal with vouchers as well as the EITC issue.

On May 10, the House Finance Committee reported House Bill 1326 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-196), which would remove certain provisions of the Taxpayer Relief Act (Act 1 of 2006, 1st Spec. Session) relating to public referendums for approving property tax increases and prohibits school boards from electing to raise taxes above the rate of inflation without voter referendum.  Under HB 1326, if the referendum fails, taxes may be raised but not above the rate of inflation.  Taxes increased for fiscal year 2011-2012 under an Act 1 exception higher than the rate of inflation would be rescinded.  The bill was approved in Committee by a vote of 15-10 and now awaits further action by the full House.

On May 10 the House approved House Bill 9 (Rep. Katharine Watson, R-144) which would create primary enforcement of the seat belt law for drivers and passengers under the age of 18 years and would limit the number of passengers under the age of 18 who can ride in a vehicle driven by a junior driver.  HB 9 would increase the number of hours (from 50 to 65) of practical driving experience required before a minor can apply for a junior driver’s permit.  The bill was approved by a vote of 175-21. 

On May 11, the House approved House Bill 1352 (Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151) which updates a reference to the Crimes Code relating to sexual assault.  The reference is to a list of offenses that appear in Section 111 of the Public School Code.  A public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational technical school is prohibited from hiring a person within five years of conviction for any of these offenses.  The bill was approved by a vote of 191-0. 

Last week, the following bills were introduced and referred to the House Education Committee:

  • House Bill 1504 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-196) would allow third and fourth class school districts the option to change their school fiscal year to start January 1 instead of July 1 by a two-thirds vote of the school board.
  • House Bill 1515 (Rep. Paul Clymer, R-145) would amend the Public School Code by adding a new section that provides for annual adjustments of the amounts at which competitive bidding, written or telephonic price quotations are required.  These annual adjustments would be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and would be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin each year.  HB 1515 would increase the amounts/thresholds relating to contracts, purchases and work to done under contract let on bids.
  • House Bill 1517 (Rep. Louise Bishop, D-192) would exempt school districts of the first class from distressed school district provisions of the Public School Code.
  • House Bill 1518 (Rep. Louise Bishop, D-192) would allow the board of school directors in a school district of the first class (School District of Philadelphia) to permit any resident student to attend other schools within the district as the parent or guardian of the student requests.

Senate

On May 9, the Senate approved Senate Bill 224 (Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-15), which amends the Public School Code to add certain offenses (stalking, kidnapping, luring and assault) that would disqualify a prospective employee from working in a school or school related position.  SB 224 has been referred to the House Education Committee and is awaiting further action.  The bill was approved by a vote of 47-2. 

On May 10, the Senate Education Committee reported the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 560 (Sen. Robert Mensch, R-24) would establish the State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative Program.
  • Senate Bill 306 (Sen. John Pippy, R-37) would amend the definition of “educational improvement organization” and “innovative educational program”  under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to  allow chartered schools for the deaf and blind and private schools for students with disabilities to benefit from  EITC contributions. 
  • Senate Bill 389 (Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-36) would amend the Public School Code to expand and update the definition of “vocational agricultural education.” 
  • Senate Bill 743 (Sen. John Rafferty, R-44) would allow an individual who does not hold a professional educator certification, but who is qualified as a teacher or director in a private driver education or training school, to teach driver education in a public school. 
  • Senate Bill 813 (Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-13) would expand the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS) to provide data related to student growth at the grade level and classroom level.  Under current law, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) publishes school district level and school level PVAAS data on its website.
  • Senate Bill 933 (Sen. Mike Folmer, R-48) would require intermediate units (IUs) to submit annual financial reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).  In addition the bill also requires IUs to submit to PDE annual reports on subsidies and funds they receive for providing services. 

The Committee also was briefed on Senate Bill 172 (Sen. LeAnna Washington, D-4) which would establish a Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program within the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to increase awareness and exposure of science, engineering and mathematics opportunities for students ranging from kindergarten through graduate level.  The proposal would create an infrastructure for the MESA initiative in each region of the state.  SB 172 will be considered at a later date.

Last week, the Senate passed several bills aimed at providing mandate relief for school districts.

  • Senate Bill 612 (Sen. Mike Folmer, R-48) would allow school districts to furlough professional employees for economic reasons and require proportionate reduction of administrators. The bill was amended to require Pennsylvania Department of Education to conduct a study of the effectiveness of the changes in the act following the 2015-2016 school year.  In addition, SB 612 would allow school directors to suspend professional employees without regard to seniority under certain conditions. The bill was approved by a vote of 38-12
  • Senate Bill 857 (Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-13) would repeal language that requires school districts to use increases in basic education funding for new programs and expansion of existing programs.  The bill was approved by a vote of 48-2.  This legislation seems largely irrelevant for the time being since the debate is over cuts rather than increases in state funds to districts.
  • Senate Bill 858 (Sen. Michael Waugh, R-28) would allow school districts to hire a person to serve as superintendent or assistant superintendent if the person holds a graduate degree in business or finance.  SB 858 also requires a person hired under this provision to successfully complete a leadership development program that meets PA School Leadership Standards.  The bill was approved by a vote of 35-15. 
  • Senate Bill 872 (Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-36) would remove the requirements for the establishment of concurrent enrollment (also known as dual enrollment) committees and quarterly meetings and gives the authority to school entities to develop concurrent enrollment agreements with eligible postsecondary institutions.  The bill was approved by a vote of 50-0

    SB 612, SB 857, SB 858 and SB 872 have been referred to the House Education Committee and are awaiting further action.

  • On May 10, the Senate Transportation Committee approved two measures, Senate Bill 314 (Sen. Robert Tomlinson, R-6) and Senate Bill 635 (Sen. John Wozniak, D-35), that would prohibit texting while driving.  The proposals also include junior passenger restrictions (limiting the number and type of passengers a junior driver may transport in the first six months of licensure) and prohibiting the use of interactive wireless communications devices by drivers who have a learner’s permit or junior license.

    This week, the following bills were introduced in the Senate:

  • Senate Bill 1038 (Sen. Shirley Kitchen, D-3) would create a new state certification for individuals to teach military science.  Under SB 1038, all persons receiving military science certificates must have documentation of at least twenty (20) years’ military service and certification by the appropriate branch of the armed forces of the United States authorizing employment as a military science instructor.  SB 1038 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.
  • Senate Bill 1052 (Sen. Charles McIlhinney, R-10) would make the English language the official language of the Commonwealth.  SB 1052 was referred to the Senate State Government Committee.
  • Senate Bill 1038 (Sen. Shirley Kitchen, D-3) would create a new state certification for individuals to teach military science.  Under SB 1038, all persons receiving military science certificates must have documentation of at least twenty (20) years’ military service and certification by the appropriate branch of the armed forces of the United States authorizing employment as a military science instructor.  SB 1038 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.
  • Senate Bill 1052 (Sen. Charles McIlhinney, R-10) would make the English language the official language of the Commonwealth.  SB 1052 was referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

CLARIFICATION

Clarion University President Karen Whitney has asked to clarify remarks she made during the House Appropriations Committee hearing on March 28 and we are happy to share her statement below.

“Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my comments made during the March 28 House Appropriations Committee hearing.  When asked to specifically describe how the governor’s proposed budget would impact Clarion University, I noted a cut in state funding of this magnitude – more than 50 percent – could result in a loss of 176 full-time positions, which would be the equivalent of losing the entire College of Business Administration.  The sole purpose of the comment was to illustrate the potential magnitude of the governor’s proposed cut to Clarion University.  The College of Business Administration has a proud history of academic excellence and delivering talented professionals to the Pennsylvania workforce.  Of more than 13,000 business schools worldwide, only slightly more than 600 are accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.   In addition, on May 7, 184 men and women graduated from the College of Business Administration, including 162 with undergraduate degrees and 22 with Master’s in Business Administration degrees.“

–Dr. Karen M. Whitney, president, Clarion University


REPORTS

  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has released an initial “Snapshot of Arts Education in the Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 2009-2010” which represents the US Department of Education’s first look in ten years at arts education in America’s public schools.  To read the report, click here
  • The President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities released last week in Washington, DC at the Arts Education Partnership Forum (AEP) a new report on reinvesting in arts education for all Americans.  It is the result of 18 months of research and includes several policy recommendations.  For more information, click here.

EPLC NEWS

  •  EPLC will host a Capital Region Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum (Harrisburg, PA) on Wednesday, May 25.  The topic of the forum will be the recently published RAND report on “Expanding Measures of School Performance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Look for agenda and registration details at www.eplc.org.
  •  The Arts and Education Initiative, a new project of The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC), will hold its first Community Forum in Altoona during the evening on Wednesday, May 25 from 6:30 –9:00 PM.   Future forums will be held in other regions (tentatively) including Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Williamsport, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. This event is free and open to the public, but do RSVP to reserve a seat to crosby@eplc.org


DATEBOOK

  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate will reconvene at 1:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2011.
  • The State Board of Education will hold a meeting in Lancaster on Wednesday, May 18.  To view the agenda, click here.  
  • The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) is sponsoring two regional summits on out-of-school time (OST) on Thursday, May 26 (Punxsutawney) and Thursday, June 2 (York).  For more information, click here.

For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on “Events Calendar”.

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