EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, December 17, 2004

The following education-related bills were passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly during end-of-session activity in November and have been signed into law by the Governor:

House Bill 30 (Act 183): Act 183 makes omnibus changes to the state's telecommunication law (Chapter 30). The legislation offers incentives for companies to speed-up delivery of high-speed Internet access to the entire state before the previously established 2015 target. The legislation also provides funding through grants funded by telephone company revenues for equipping and connecting public and private schools to broadband access and requires some companies to offer broadband access to schools at a minimum 30% discount.

House Bill 873 (Act 237): Act 237 increases penalties for speeding in a school zone.

House Bill 2262 (Act 197): Act 197 requires school entities (including cyber charter schools) and public libraries to adopt acceptable-use Internet policies that prevent users from viewing or sending obscene or pornographic materials. School entities that do not submit acceptable-use policies to the state Department of Education for review or do not enforce such policies may have a portion of their state subsidy withheld.

House Bill 1113 (Act 187): Act 187 was amended before final passage to require the Pittsburgh School District to share a portion of the earned income tax it collects with the city. The district would be required to increase the amount of earned income tax paid to the city over three years, beginning in 2007, as follows: 2007 (0.1%), 2008 (0.2%), 2009 (0.25%). The legislation, as originally authored, requires school districts to develop policies to allow students to possess and self-administer asthma inhalers. Children must first demonstrate that they know how to properly use the inhaler before being allowed to carry it with them during the school day. Currently, inhalers must be stored with the school nurse.

House Bill 2775 (Act 231): Act 231 establishes the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education Program. Act 231, school districts may apply to the state Department of Education for grants of up to $5,000 to support watershed education programs. Funding is limited to the amount appropriated each year by the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 668 (Act 180): Act 180 requires higher education institutions to annually report campus crime statistics in the uniform format required by the state police. The legislation also requires colleges to provide information about security policies and crime statistics to all students, prospective students, and employees.

Senate Bill 673 (Act 181): Act 181 amends the Agricultural Education Loan Forgiveness Act to provide loan forgiveness for certain teachers of agriculture education.

Senate Bill 931 (Act 210): Act 210 extends the state's higher education tuition waiver program to the children of sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and soldiers killed during active state or federal duty. The legislation was amended to be retroactive to September 11, 2001.

Senate Resolution 331: SR 331 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a performance study of the administrative operations and expenditures of the Pittsburgh School District.

Links to each piece of newly enacted legislation are available on EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse.html.


Other Education Policy News
  • Looking for information about closing the achievement gap? Check out EPLC's new Education Policy Information Clearinghouse section on the Achievement Gap for more information at www.eplc.org/clearinghouse_achievementgap.html.


  • Pennsylvania House Republicans have established a "Task Force to Connect Education to the Workplace." The committee appointed by House Majority Leader Sam Smith will look at ways to craft a seamless P-16 education system and encourage partnerships between business and schools to connect education with modern workforce needs. Reps. Jess Stairs, David Hickernell, Bernie O'Neill and Douglas Reichley will serve on the task force.


  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education has received a $75,000 three-year grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network. Managed by the Center for Schools and Communities, the network will coordinate partnerships to support the development of state policies focused on improving the quality of the state's afterschool programs.


  • The Allegheny Conference on Community Development examined math and reading scores for fifth-grade students in Southwestern Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. The Conference found that the percentage of students performing proficiently has increased in both reading and math since last year. The Conference also found that 5 percent of schools in the region have 90 percent or more fifth graders proficient in reading; 7 percent of schools have 90 percent or more fifth graders proficient in math. The report is available at www.schoolgrades.info and assigns each Southwestern Pennsylvania elementary school a grade from A to F based on state assessment results.


  • U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Eugene Hickok has resigned and will step down from the second highest-ranking position in the Department at the end of January.


  • Rep. Kelly Lewis (R-189th House District seat in Monroe and Pike counties) resigned from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to become President and CEO of the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania.


  • Dr. Tony Atwater has been selected as the next president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Youngstown State University in Ohio will take over for interim president Diane Reinhard in February.


  • Luis Ramos, member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, was sworn in as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board on November 19. He replaces Ed Donley, another member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, on the board that sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.


  • Dr. Piedad F. Robertson, President of Santa Monica College, will take over as President of the Education Commission of the States in February 2005. She succeeds Ted Sanders, ECS President since February 2000, who is resigning.


  • Dr. Philip Murphy, long-time education staff member in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and valued and loved friend to countless state policymakers and education leaders throughout Pennsylvania for more than three decades died on December 3 of complications from a stroke.


Upcoming Events

  • EPLC will host school board candidate workshops in several areas of the state early in 2005. Look for details on the EPLC website soon.




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