EPLC Education Notebook – Monday, May 2, 2011

Content in this edition:
Pennsylvania Policymakers
– House
– Senate
US Department of Education

PA Bulletin

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



On April 26, the House Education Committee reported the following bills which are awaiting further action by the full House:

  • House Bill 285 (Rep. Mark Keller, R-86) would increase the bid limits for school construction projects from $10,000 to $25,000 and the bid limits for written or telephonic quotations from $4,000 to $7,000.  It also increases the bid limits under which a school entity’s staff can perform its own work from $5,000 to $7,000.  Under HB 285, bid limitations will be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The provisions of the bill would apply to all public school entities, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, and the institutions of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE).  The bill was unanimously approved.
  • House Bill 1330 (Rep. Thomas Quigley, R-146) would 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).  Under HB 1330, tax credits available to businesses donating under this program would be increased from $75 million in FY 2011-2012 to $100 million in FY 2011-2012 and $200 million in FY 2012-2013.   HB 1330 would also increase the maximum household income limits from $50,000 to $60,000 from June 30, 2011 through June 30, 2012 and to $75,000 after June 30, 2012.  Beginning July 1, 2012, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) would adjust the household income amounts annually based on the Consumer Price Index.  The bill was amended in Committee to set the maximum tax credit to a business firm donating to an ESO or EIO to not exceed $400,000 in FY 2011-2012 before increasing to $750,000 in FY 2012-2013.  Additionally, the amendment sets the maximum tax credit to a business firm donating to a PSO to not exceed $200,000 in FY 2011-2012 before increasing to $250,000 in FY 2012-2013. The bill was approved by a vote of 23-2. 
  • House Bill 1345 (Rep. John Taylor, R-177) would provide for the movement of the Safe School Advocate in school districts of the first class (School District of Philadelphia) from the PDE to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.  The bill was unanimously approved.

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

  • House Bill 1348 (Rep. Thomas Killion, R-168) would allow charter and cyber charter schools to enter into concurrent enrollment agreements with institutions of higher education and award appropriate credits to students concurrently enrolled under the agreement.  HB 1348 would also repeal the current charter school law and replace it with a new article entitled “Charter Schools and Cyber Charter Schools.”
  • House Bill 1359 (Rep. Todd Rock, R-90) would amend the Public School Code to provide for uniform standards for the certification of school crossing guards.
  • House Bill 1363 (Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-65) would suspend the requirements for continuing professional development for certificated educators until June 30, 2013.
  • House Bill 1371 (Rep. Katharine Watson, R-144) would establish the Volunteer First Responders Loan Forgiveness Program within the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
  • House Bill 1377 (Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-22) would establish the Community College Educational Assistance Act.  The act would direct PHEAA to disregard one third of an eligible student’s expected family contribution (EFC) and Federal Pell Grant award amount when calculating the eligible student’s Pennsylvania State grant.
  • House Bill 1378 (Rep. Dennis O’Brien, R-169) would require special education services to nonpublic students be provided by the intermediate unit  in which the nonpublic school is located in accordance with standards set by the Secretary of Education.
  • House Resolution 231 (Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-51) would encourage school districts in the Commonwealth to study the fiscal impact of consolidating the administrations of school districts within their county.


  • On April 26, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Ronald J. Tomalis as Secretary of Education. 
  • On April 27, Senate Bill 1 (Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-15), which would establish a tuition voucher program and expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, was re-referred to the Senate Education Committee.  According to Sen. Piccola, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, an agreement has been reached with the administration and the bill will be amended in Committee to reflect the Governor’s desired changes.


  • On April 20, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched a new initiative to help educate graduating college and university seniors about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.  The initiative provides several resources for graduating students to learn about their options.  Information for young adults and parents is available at www.facebook.com/youngadultcoverage.   Additional resources for universities or student groups can be accessed by clicking here


Notice has been given in the PA Bulletin (Vol. 41, No.17) that the Office of Open Records (OOR) has updated the Standard Right-to-Know Request Form.  This form can be accessed from the OOR’s web site at http://openrecords.state.pa.us.   For more information, click here.


  • On April 25, parents from Shippensburg School District organized a “Billion Dollar Bake Sale for Education” at the state capitol to protest the Governor’s severe cuts to basic education funding.  Parents from several school districts voiced concern with the Governor’s proposed budget for education and what it means in terms of education quality and program offerings.
  • On April 26, Hundreds of students and advocates attended the “March for Education” rally in Harrisburg held by the NAACP to protest Governor Corbett’s proposed cuts to education.  The NAACP was joined by the Teamsters Union, several state lawmakers and education advocates.     
  • Recently, the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, a coalition of more than 30 statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations representing hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators, school board members, administrators, and other concerned citizens advocating for adequate and equitable funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools, launched a new website encouraging individuals to sign a petition to stop the billion dollar cut to education.  To sign the online petition, visit www.stopthebilliondollarcut.org.
  • Also last week, the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Coalition held a rally at the state capitol to encourage the Legislature to take action on two bills (House Bill 200 and Senate Bill 200) that would establish standards for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries in student athletes.  In addition, the coalition is asking lawmakers to ensure funding for Home and Community-Based Programs, create an Advisory Board, and incorporate brain injury screenings for persons in state programs and facilities
  • The Pittsburgh CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) 6-12 is one of 6 finalists (and the only school in Pennsylvania) to have President Obama come to speak at its commencement.  The President will visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address later this spring.  For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov/commencement


  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate will reconvene at 1:00 PM on Monday, May 2, 2011.
  • The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is hosting “Teacher Appreciation Week” from May 2-6.  For more information, click here.
  • The Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues (CLEAR) will hold a “Rally for a Responsible Budget” in Harrisburg on May 3 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM.  For more information, click here.
  • The House Education Committee will hold a meeting on Wednesday, May 4 at 9:30 AM to consider the following bills:  HB 1363, HB 1407 and HB 1411
  • Primary Election Day is Tuesday, May 17.
  • The State Board of Education will hold a meeting in Lancaster on Wednesday, May 18.

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


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