EPLC Education Notebook – Monday, June 20, 2011

Content in this edition:
2011-2012 PA Budget Watch
– Senate
– House
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Education Policy Fellowship Program


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


We expect that the state budget will be completed no later than June 30, and possibly as early as late this week.  When negotiations are completed among the Governor’s Office and Senate and House Republican leaders, and a deal is struck, it is expected that the Senate will insert the agreed-to budget as an amendment into HB 1485, the budget legislation previously approved by the House.  If all goes as planned, the House will then agree to the amended version of HB 1485, and the legislation will be sent to the Governor for his signature.  Meanwhile, minority Democrats in the Legislature will be for the most part simply observers of these actions, with little real opportunity for effective impact on the final outcome.

On June 13, the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee held a meeting to consider Senate Resolution 100  introduced by Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-9).  The resolution would put into place a temporary rule of the Senate that would require amendments to the General Appropriations bill to be revenue neutral.  Prior to the final vote on SR 100, Senator Jay Costa (D-43), Minority Chairman of the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, offered an amendment that would allow the use of a portion of the budget surplus reported on June 1 to restore funding to basic education, higher education and human services programs.  The Costa amendment would have used approximately $370 million, leaving $152 million of the surplus for use in fiscal year 2012-2013The amendment failed.  SR 100 was reported as committed

The next day, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported as committed House Bill 1485, the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2011-2012.  HB 1485 was approved by the House by a vote of 109-92 on May 25 and represents a revised budget offered by House Republicans that would restore some of the significant cuts to K-12 and higher education as proposed by the Governor.  It also provides for cuts not included in the Governor’s budget, including significant cuts for child care services and for the arts.  Although an improvement on the Governor’s proposed funding for school districts and higher education, HB 1485 still would cut $900 million in state funding for school districts.  Neither the Governor’s budget proposal nor the House Republican version uses the growing surplus that is anticipated at the end of the current fiscal year. However, Senate Republican leaders have suggested previously that they are open to using at least some of the surplus to further reduce cuts to basic and higher education.


On June 14, the Senate Education Committee reported the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 172 introduced by Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-4) would establish a Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program within the Pennsylvania Department of Education to increase exposure, educational motivation and achievement of students in science, engineering and mathematics and build individual and regional capacity to compete for STEM-based jobs in a global market with emphasis on students, parents, educators and employers from urban and rural settings.   Under SB 172, PDE would work with the TEAM PA Foundation and the five established STEM regions to create in each STEM region an infrastructure for the MESA Initiative.  
  • Senate Bill 391 introduced by Sen. Jane Orie (R-40) would amend the Public School Code to add a new section pertaining to the training of school employees in diabetes care and management.  SB 391 would require the Department of Health in coordination with the Department of Education, the American Diabetes Association, educators and health professionals to create training modules and guidelines for the instruction of school employees in diabetes care and treatment.  These would be made e available on the website of the department of Health.  The bill also includes provisions for service agreements and demonstration of competency by a student to self-administer medications.  SB 391 would also apply to nonpublic schools
  • Senate Bill 1087 introduced by Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) would amend the current rating system for professional school employees to include student performance among the factors to be considered in teacher evaluations.  SB 1087 would require the Department of Education to revise and implement the use of rating cards to include student performance by no later than January 1, 2012
  • Senate Bill 1127  introduced by Sen. Donald White (R-41) would amend the section of the Public School Code pertaining to voting by a school board following a primary or municipal election.  Under SB 1127, no school board may vote or take other official action, other than votes or actions of a ministerial or emergency nature, between October 1 of each odd-numbered year and the organizational meeting of the school board required to be held in December of such year. In short, this bill would prohibit lame duck school boards from voting or taking other official action.  The bill also provides for violations.  The provisions of SB 1127 would not apply to a school district of the first class or to a school district in which a special board of control has been appointed. 
  • Senate Bill 1129 introduced by Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D19) would amend the section of the Public School Code that pertains to liability for tuition and enforcement of payments for students who are placed in rehabilitative institutions.  SB 1129 would require that in the event that a district in which the institution is located contracts with a third party to provide educational services to children who are inmates of the institution, the third party may seek payment of tuition directly from the district of residence.  The third party must notify the district of residence and the district in which the institution is located of its payment request and whether or not the district of residence makes payment.  Such a payment to the third party would satisfy and terminate the contractual payment obligation of the district in which the institution is located.  The bill allows for the district charged to file an appeal with the Secretary of Education.
  • The Senate Education Committee recommended that the following nominees to the State Charter School Appeal Board be confirmed:  Kenneth Lawrence, Jr. (Plymouth Meeting), Angela Marks (Merion Station), Lee Ann Munger (Pittsburgh) and Mitchell J. Yanyanin (New Brighton).  For more information on the nominees, click here.

On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 200 introduced by Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16) would create the “Safety in Youth Sports Act,” which would require the PA Departments of Health and Education to develop and post on their internet websites guidelines and other relevant materials to inform and educate student athletes and their parents and coaches about the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury.  The bill further provides for removal from play of student athletes exhibiting signs or symptoms of head injury, requires training and certification in concussion management for athletic coaches, and imposes penalties for coaches violating the law.
  • Senate Bill 1122 introduced by Sen.  Jake Corman (R-34) would provide a non-preferred appropriation to the Pennsylvania State University for fiscal year 2011-2012 in the amount of $224,683,000 and $14,299,000 for Penn College of Technology.  SB 1122 also authorizes the appropriation of funds contained within the Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund restricted account for Agricultural Research and Extension Services.  It is estimated that $46,956,000 will be available.  SB 1122 would provide an additional $120,824,000 over the amount proposed by the Governor.
  • Senate Bill 1123 introduced by Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) would provide $140,610,000 (General Support) and $2,186,000 (Rural Education Outreach) to the University of Pittsburgh for fiscal year 2011-2012. This legislation would provide an additional $62,551,000 over the amount proposed by the Governor.
  • Senate Bill 1124 introduced by Sen.  Jake Corman (R-34) would provide a non-preferred appropriation to Temple University for fiscal year 2011-2012 in the amount of $146,826,000.  SB 1124 would provide an additional $64,339,000 over the amount proposed by the Governor.
  • Senate Bill 1125 introduced by Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) would provide a non-preferred appropriation to Lincoln University for fiscal year 2011-2012 in the amount of $11,715,000.  SB 1125 would provide an additional $4,903,000 over the amount proposed by the Governor. 
  • House Bill 915 introduced by Rep. William Adolph, Jr. (R-165) would appropriate $387,816,000 in federal Education Jobs fund money to be disbursed to school districts through the basic education funding formula for 2010-11.  This federal funding is intended to replace state funds that previously were cut by executive actions from the original 2010-2011 basic subsidy appropriation.  It would also increase the federal College Access Challenge Grant Program appropriation to $4,431,000. This program is jointly administered by the Department of Education and PHEAA.
  • House Bill 1485 introduced by Rep. William Adolph, Jr. (R-165) is the General Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2011-2012, which appropriates state and federal funds for expenses incurred by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Commonwealth.  For additional information on HB 1485, please refer to the State Budget Watch 2011-2012 section of this notebook. 

On June 15, the House Education Committee reported the following two bills:

  • Senate Bill 858 introduced by Sen. Michael Waugh (R-28) amends the Public School Code to allow individuals who hold a graduate degree in business or finance from an accredited institution of higher education to be eligible for election or appointment as a school district superintendent or assistant school district superintendent.  A person elected or appointed under this new section must successfully complete a leadership development program that meets the Pennsylvania School Leadership standards
  • House Bill 1454 introduced by Rep. Dan Truitt (R-156) would amend the section of the Public School Code on Value–added Assessment System to include academic growth and projections for achievement on future assessments for  grade level, the classroom level and the teacher level.  Currently, value added assessment system data are reported at the school district level and school level.  HB 1454 has been referred to the House Rules Committee.
  • The Committee passed over Senate Bill 612 introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48) which would allow school districts to furlough professional employees for economic reasons. SB 612 will be considered at a meeting of the House Education Committee on June 20.  
  • On June 13, the House unanimously approved House Bill 139 introduced by Rep. Robert Godshall (R-53) which would allow school districts to receive reimbursement for approved building improvements, including the cost of acquiring a suitable site for a school building, the cost of constructing a new school building or providing needed additions or alterations to existing buildings, if a school district elects not to remove any modular classroom utilized after the completion of a building project.  Currently, school districts are not reimbursed for construction costs until the portable or modular classroom is removed from the premises.  In addition, HB 139 would terminate the requirement that any payments or taxes dedicated to the school district by the city or county of the first class be not less than the highest amount paid by the city or county to the school district or authorized by the city or county to be levied for the school district or dedicated to the school district during any of the three full fiscal years preceding the date of the declaration of distress.  HB 139 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting further action.


Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released results from a study conducted by researchers from Old Dominion and Johns Hopkins universities that examined the results of the Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) program from 2006-2010.  The report finds that students in schools led by principals who completed the PIL program had higher PSSA scores in math and reading compared to other schools with similar performance and demographic profiles.  The Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) Program is a statewide, standards-based continuing professional education program for school and system leaders implemented as a result of Act 45 of 2007. To read PDE’s press statement, click here.


This clarifies our previous report about House Bill 704  introduced by Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-29).  The legislation would amend the Public School Code to further provide for definitions and address reforms to the special education funding system. HB 704 would establish a formula for the distribution of monies for special education for each school district in future years when the legislature decides to increases appropriations for this line item.  The bill would also establish a Legislative Commission on Special Education and task the commission with developing certain components of a funding formula. The department would also be required to develop a competitive grant program for school districts to recognize effective practices that improve achievement for students with disabilities.  HB 704 also addresses issues of special education oversight by PDE, including the submission of special education plans, amendments, and revisions by districts. HB 704 was referred to the House Education Committee on June 8. 


AApplications are available now for the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) which is sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  With more than 300 graduates in its first eleven years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  Act 48 credits are available to individuals holding Pennsylvania teaching or administrative certificates, and State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Applications are being accepted now.  For schedule and more information or to download an application, please click on https://www.eplc.org/leadership_fellowship_about.shtml.


The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) will hold an education issues briefing via conference call on Thursday, June 23 for PEAN members.  EPLC will provide an update on the 2011-2012 proposed budget activity and other education legislation that was before the Legislature in recent weeks.  To learn more about becoming a PEAN volunteer, click here.


Last week, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus released a video to inform the public about the educational benefits of full-day kindergarten.  The threat of state budget cuts has forced some school districts to eliminate or reduce full-day kindergarten.  Please visit and share the link with colleagues and friends.  This video can also be embedded on websites.  The YouTube link is – http://www.youtube.com/user/pahousevideo#p/c/0/8a14nPbfK8c


  • The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 20 at 1:00 PM.
  • The House Education Committee will meet to consider SB 612 on Monday, June 20 at 12:00 PM.
  • The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) will hold its Annual Conference and Exposition in Philadelphia on June 26-29.
  • 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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