EPLC Education Notebook – Friday, June 24, 2011

Content in this edition:
2011-2012 State Budget Watch
– House

Reports / Resources


The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/publications_wpn.shtml.


As of 2:00 p.m. on Friday, state policymakers are clearly into the final days (or hours) of budget negotiations,   Legislators are expected to return to Harrisburg on Sunday evening and remain until the work gets done.

We don’t want to add to the rumor-mill with lots of mere speculation about what will happen, but here are a few items we can report:

  • Governor Corbett and Republican legislative leaders have been highly critical that a budget never got done “on time” by the June 30 constitutional deadline during the eight years of the Rendell Administration, so they have placed great pressure on themselves to make sure the budget is completed by June 30.
  • Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have largely been ignored in the budget negotiations.  This process is Republicans negotiating with Republicans, and Democrats on the sidelines.
  • The state surplus of actual revenue beyond revenue that was projected for 2010-2011 was $540 million on May 31, and may grow to as much as $650 million by the June 30 year-end.  Despite this growing surplus, Governor Corbett and some Republican legislators have resisted using the surplus funds to reduce the major budget cuts proposed in March by the Governor because at the time we didn’t “have the money.”
  • Basic education and higher education funding will fare better than the $1.1 billion basic education cut and the $500 million higher education cut proposed by Governor Corbett in March.
  • Nonetheless, the cuts for funding for school districts will be the largest in the history of the Commonwealth.
  • We are likely to see other education-related legislation considered as part of a final budget “deal.”  This may include legislation that would reduce or eliminate exceptions for Act 1 tax increases above the rate of inflation that would require a voter referendum. Currently, school districts can request exceptions to Act 1 for reasons such as special education and pension costs.  Governor Corbett has made it clear that he wants to remove or reduce the number of exemptions making sure that most property tax increases go before a local referendum. Also still on the table for discussion are proposals for a charter school bill that would allow the takeover of persistently failing schools and a tuition voucher program

We will report the details of any budget agreement as they become available.  We’ll also provide links to the budget legislation and any related printouts for the distribution of state funds to school districts.



On, June 20, the House Education Committee reported as amended Senate Bill 612  which would allow school districts to furlough professional employees for economic reasons and require proportionate reduction of administrators. The bill was amended to remove the requirement of the 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, language was also added stating that a collective bargaining agreement for professional employees after the effective date of the act cannot include provisions prohibiting suspension of professional employees for economic reasons.  SB 612 would allow school directors to suspend professional employees without regard to seniority under certain conditions.  SB 612 is awaiting further action by the House and may become part of the adopted budget package.

On June 23, the House Appropriations Committee reported as committed Senate Bill 858 which would allow an individual to be eligible for election or appointment as a district superintendent or assistant superintendent if they hold a graduate degree from an accredited institution of higher education in business or finance.  If hired under this section, the individual must complete a leadership development program that meets the Pennsylvania School Leadership standards.  SB 858 was re-reported as committed from the House Appropriations Committee


  • A recently published report from the College Board finds that young black and Latino men lag behind their contemporaries in nearly every measure of educational attainment, with many failing to attend college or earn degrees and large numbers facing unemployment or incarceration.  Among the findings: 28% of African American men and 16% of Latino men aged 25 to 34 had obtained an associate’s degree or higher, compared with 70% of Asian American men and 44% of white men. To learn more about the College Board initiative and its focus on young men of color, click here
  • Two new resources for Arts Education have been recently released. The National Guild of Community Arts Education has issued a guide for youth development programs entitled Engaging Adolescents: Building Youth Participation in the Arts to help staff and faculty establish new programs and services for teens or to rethink and strengthen programs they already offer.  In addition, the Arts Education Partnership has released What School Leaders Can Do To Increase Arts Education to assist school principals and other leaders interested in increasing arts education in America’s schools.  


  • On June 20, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced that 41 states have agreed to work together to dramatically improve student achievement through the development and implementation of improved state accountability systems. The Principles for State Leadership on Next-Generation Accountability Systems (Principles) and Roadmap were developed by the Next Generation Accountability Taskforce, a bipartisan group of state education officials convened by CCSSO, and endorsed by states across the nation. This agreement provides a clear avenue for Congress to update and reauthorize the accountability provisions within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and if reauthorization is not completed, paves the way for state developed waiver proposals as described in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002. For more information, click here.
  • Timothy R. Thyreen, President of Waynesburg University since 1990, has been confirmed by the Senate to serve on Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s (PHEAA) Board of Directors.
  • Governor Tom Corbett has appointed First Lady Susan Corbett to Chair the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA).  He has also appointed William Lehr, CEO of Capital Blue Cross, who is a member of the Advisory Committee for EPLC’s Arts and Education Initiative.  The complete list of new appointments is as follows: Laura E. Ellsworth, Esq. (Sewickley); Jeffrey W. Gabel (Gettysburg); Stephen J. Harmelin, Esq. (Philadelphia); Gayle Isa (Philadelphia); Justin Laing (Pittsburgh); William Lehr, Jr. (Palmyra); James A. West, Jr. (Pittsburgh); and Jen H. Zaborney (Harrisburg).


  • The House will reconvene on Sunday, June 26 at 5 PM.  The Senate will reconvene on Sunday, June 26 at 4 PM
  • The House Education Committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, June 28 at 9 AM to consider the following bills:  SB 200, SB 389, SB 1127 and HB 1610
  • The Legislative and Budget Finance Committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, June 28 at 10 AM to discuss and release reports on Pennsylvania’s Current Real Property Tax Collection System, and Summary of the Financial and Academic Status of the Duquesne City School District
  • SAVE THE DATE!  The Public Education Network is holding its annual conference on November 6-8 in Washington, DC. The conference theme is “New American Revolution: College and Career Readiness for All.”  For more information, visit: http://www.publiceducation.org/events.asp

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


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