EPLC Education Notebook – Monday, June 6, 2011

Content in this edition:
2011-2012 PA Budget Watch
– Senate
– House
State Board of Education

PA Department of Revenue
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/.


The Pennsylvania House and Senate return to Session today (June 6), with the Governor and Republican legislative leaders emphasizing their commitment to have the 2011-2012 Budget completed before the June 30 constitutional deadline.  But key differences remain to be resolved.

Governor Corbett and Republican House leaders remain steadfast in their insistence that the General Fund Budget totals no more than $27.3 billion.  They also have taken the position that the state’s projected $500 million plus surplus should be “banked” rather than used to restore some of the enormous cuts proposed for education and human services.

House Republicans did support budget legislation that approved a restoration of some of the K-12 and higher education cuts proposed by Governor Corbett, but paid for that partial restoration with cuts to the arts, child care services, and other education and human services line items.

While the Senate has not considered a budget bill so far, Republican leaders in the Senate have called for more flexibility.  They have stated a willingness to exceed the proposed $27.3 billion cap, and a willingness to use some of the revenue surplus to further reduce cuts to education.  We may see an alternative version of the budget offered this week by the Senate Republican majority.

House and Senate Democrats have argued in favor of using at least some of the growing revenue surplus to reduce proposed cuts for education.

There is still time to express your views about the state budget by contacting your state legislators in the House and Senate.  Contact your state Senator or Representative by clicking here.   



Last week, the following House-approved bills were referred to the Senate Education Committee:

  • House Bill 285 (Rep. M Keller, R-86) would increase the maximum amount of a school district contract before it must be put out for bids. Under current law a school district must seek written or telephone price quotes from at least three contractors or suppliers for contracts over $4,000, but not more than $10,000. This legislation increases those limits to $7,000 and $10,000, respectively. Under current law, a school district must advertise for bidders in a newspaper of general circulation for contracts exceeding $10,000. This legislation would increase that limit to $25,000. For projects costing $7,000 or less, school districts could use their own maintenance staff.  The bill provides that all these limits in the future would increase based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
  • House Bill 257 (Rep. Seth Grove R-196) would no longer require approval of the Department of Education for school buildings and playgrounds on any school construction project where state reimbursement is not requested.
  • House Bill 1345(Rep. John Taylor, R-177) would move the Office of Safe Schools Advocate for the Philadelphia school district from the Department of Education to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The Executive Director of the PCCD would be in charge of the Office’s responsibilities in place of the Secretary of Education, and would receive the Office’s reports along with the Secretary of Education.
  • House Bill 1411 (Rep. Brian Ellis, R-11) would impose a two year moratorium on the collection of data by the PA Department of Education and the PA Department of Public Welfare through Pennsylvania’s Enterprise to Link Information for Children Across Network (PELICAN) and the Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS). It makes exceptions to this moratorium for data that is necessary for federal and state programs, or required by federal or state law


Last week, the following bills were approved by the House:

  • House Bill 1621 (Rep. P. Michael Sturla, D-96) would establish the Higher Education Fund. A 1% sales and use surtax would be imposed on items currently taxed under Article II of the Tax Reform Code.  Under HB 1621, funds from the surtax would be used to fund the State System of Higher Education, State-related universities, community colleges and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.   HB 1621 has been referred to the House Finance Committee.


Karen Molchanow has been named acting Executive Director of the State Board of Education.   Ms. Molchanow replaces Adam Schott who has taken a new position with Research for Action in Philadelphia. 


Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue reported that the state collected $1.8 billion in General Fund revenue in May, which was $33.9 million, or 1.9 percent, more than anticipated.  Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $24.3 billion, which is $539.4 million, or 2.3 percent, above estimate.


Recently, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) released a White Paper entitled Educational Efficiency in Pennsylvania: Data and Analysis (April 2011) which examines the facts about efficiencies and inefficiencies of Pennsylvania’s public education system.  The paper finds that Pennsylvania’s school districts are at least as efficient as, and more effective than, those in states with county-wide school systems. The full report and Executive Summary are available on the PASA web site at: www.pasa-net.org.


Applications 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 twelve 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.

The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 8-9, 2011 and continues through June 2012.  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.

Since space is limited to approximately 30 positions, it is advisable to submit an application as soon as possible.  The application may be copied from the EPLC Web Site, but must be submitted by mail with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.  If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or cowell@eplc.org.


NBC’s Education Nation is Coming to Philadelphia June 5-12:  On June 9, NBC News’ Education Nation (Ed Nation) will be hosting a panel discussion, moderated by CNBC Anchor Maria Bartiromo, in Philadelphia with the region’s top business and civic leaders.  Panelists will share their ideas and recommendations for making sure Pennsylvania is preparing its students and workforce with the skills and knowledge required to compete in a global economy. Education Nation is NBC News special initiative focused on improving the state of education in America.  Ed Nation launched last fall with a two day summit that brought together some the nation’s top education, political and business leaders, policy-makers, advocates and teachers. 


  • The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 6 at 1:00 PM.
  • The House Education Committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, June 7 at 9:30 AM to consider the following bills: HB 1454 and SB 612.
  • The House Human Services Committee will hold a meeting to consider HB 1338 on Tuesday, June 7 at 10:00 AM.
  • The House Labor and Industry Committee will hold a meeting to consider HB 1548 on Tuesday, June 7 at 9:30 AM.
  • The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing on the subject of teacher evaluations and effectiveness with a focus on student performance/achievement and SB 1087 on Tuesday, June 8 at 9:30 AM.
  • The next meeting of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors will be on June 29-30.  For more information, click here.

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


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