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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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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