EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    Enacted Education Legislation

  • Congruent with adoption of the FY 2005-2006 state budget, the General Assembly approved omnibus changes to the school code through enactment of Act 46 (House Bill 628). Many of these school code changes in Act 46 are companion language to appropriations made in the new state budget. For instance, Act 46 adds to the school code authorizing language for new programs included in the budget, such as concurrent enrollment for high school students and supplemental funding for school districts that currently spend less than $8,500 per pupil.

    For more information about the FY 2005-06 education budget, as well as other education-related legislation adopted during the budget finalization process, see the July 8 edition of the EPLC Education Notebook at www.eplc.org/notebook/July8,2005.html.

    Here is a detailed review of the omnibus changes made to the school code by Act 46 (House Bill 628):

    * Requires school districts to prepare proposed annual budgets using the uniform form provided by the state Department of Education (PDE). On the date of adoption of the proposed district budget, the school board president must certify to PDE that the proposed budget has been prepared and made publicly available using PDE's uniform form. No final action may be taken on a proposed budget if such preparation has not occurred. Additionally, the new law requires proposed district budgets to be made available for duplication upon request at a reasonable duplication cost;

    * Authorizes school districts to reopen their 2005-06 budgets to reflect state allocations;

    * Extends the deadline for completing state-mandated professional development from June 30, 2005 to April 30, 2006 for a select group of teachers who: were certified prior to May 1, 2001, did not receive required notice of their continuing professional education compliance status from PDE by June 2004, and have not fulfilled their mandated professional development requirements. Also, requires PDE in the future to mail written notice to educators who have not completed their mandated professional development hours a year prior to the educator's compliance deadline and to provide electronic notice to educators who have fulfilled their professional development obligations. Finally, the legislation requires educators to notify PDE of any change of address;

    * Budget includes $13.867 million for Teacher Professional Development for FY 2005-06

    * Clarifies the process for evaluating applications for teaching certificates. The legislation requires PDE to notify an applicant for a teaching certificate of all information needed if an application is incomplete. The application will remain open for one year following such notification. Additionally, requires PDE to notify an applicant of all deficiencies in an application if an application is rejected. Finally, the legislation clarifies which applicants are subject to the increased grade point average (GPA) requirements for teacher certification previously adopted by the State Board of Education. Applicants whose initial teacher preparation began before October 7, 2000 will be evaluated based on the GPA in effect on the date of application for certification. Applicants whose initial teacher preparation began on or after October 7, 2000 will be evaluated based on the GPA in effect on their date of graduation;

    * Requires payments for children placed in institutions to be made by the student's resident school district within 30 days of receipt of an invoice from the district in which the institution is located;

    * Establishes accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing requirements for approved private schools and the state's four chartered schools for the deaf and blind. Also, requires PDE to develop interim audit standards within 60 days that will apply to audits conducted after July 1, 2005 and to develop permanent audit standards within one year of publication of the interim standards;

    * Expands the number of students eligible for tutoring services through the educational support services and educational assistance programs by allowing funding to be used for kindergarten through twelfth graders. Previously, tutoring was only available through ninth grade. Additionally, allows schools to recommend students for tutoring provided through the educational assistance program even if the student does not meet current academic guidelines for eligibility;

    * Budget includes $70 million for tutoring programs for FY 2005-06 ($4.000 million for Education Support Services and $66.000 million for the Educational Assistance Program)

    * Adds definitions for the state's 2005 math and reading proficiency targets to the tutoring law;

    * Allows school entities to notify parents of the availability of tutoring services "whenever the school entity recommends tutoring under the educational assistance program". Currently, parents must receive notice at the same time they receive state assessment results;

    * Allows state-funded tutoring to be provided during the school day as long as it does not interfere with a student's regular classroom instruction and does not supplant services required in a special education student's individualized education program. Currently, the state-funded tutoring must be provided outside of normal school hours;

    * Provides for the distribution of state tutoring funding for students in grades seven through twelve;

    * Requires Head Start providers to demonstrate that they have the ability to serve more children or to provide extended day services in order to qualify for state funding. Providers may demonstrate these criteria by entering into cooperative agreements with school entities. A definition of "school entity" was added to the section related to the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program;

    * Prioritizes Head Start funding. Head Start providers that received a grant in the prior fiscal year are eligible for a grant in an amount equal to the grant received in the immediately preceding fiscal year, less any start-up costs. However, the grant will be reduced if the provider does not enroll at least 90% of the students it was approved to serve for that year by March 1. The reduction would be proportionate to the number of children enrolled;

    * Budget includes $30 million for Head Start for FY 2005-06

    * Establishes a state grant program to support concurrent enrollment for high school students. School entities will receive state grants to defray higher education tuition costs for students taking courses in core academic subjects to earn both high school and post-secondary credit. Supplemental grants will be provided for low-income students to cover the total cost of tuition, books and fees for which the student would be responsible (up to 8% of the funds appropriated for concurrent enrollment may be used for supplemental grants). Students may not enroll in more than 24 postsecondary credits per school year. To qualify for grant funds, school entities must form concurrent enrollment committees which will develop dual enrollment agreements with higher education institutions that outline student eligibility and participation requirements. Private school, home education, charter school and nonpublic school students may participate in concurrent enrollment opportunities through their school district of residence (up to 4% of fund allocated may be used for these students). The legislation also allows up to 4% of funds allocated for concurrent enrollment to support "early college" high school, gateway to college and "middle college" high school programs;

    * Budget includes $5 million for dual enrollment for FY 2005-06

    * Authorizes PDE to use up to $2.875 million of unexpended, unencumbered funds for Empowerment Districts;

    * Authorizes PDE to grant a mandate waiver request related to transportation of students more than 10 miles by the nearest public highway if the waiver would be more cost effective or address student safety concerns. The transportation would remain eligible for state reimbursement;

    * Establishes a new formula for community college funding. Beginning in FY 2006-07, all community colleges will receive the same state reimbursement for operating costs, base supplement and growth supplement that they received during the previous year. Colleges also will be eligible for an Economic Development Stipend for courses or programs focused on occupations that the state annually determines are high priorities**. Any additional appropriated funding would be distributed as follows: 75% of the remaining funds would be proportionately distributed among the colleges as part of their base supplement; 25% of the remaining funds would be distributed based on enrollment growth. A different funding formula will be used for the 2005-06 fiscal year only.

    ** (The legislation also outlines guidelines by which the Department of Education will annually identify high priority occupation programs. High priority programs provide training for jobs that are in demand by employers or meet regional workforce needs and have a higher instructional cost to operate. The Economic Development Stipend that supports these programs targets the most funding to for-credit, high priority programs that are high-cost, followed by for-credit, high priority programs that are not high-cost, and, finally, non-credit, high priority occupation training courses);

    * Budget includes $252.831 million for community colleges operating expenses, capital expenses, and regional community college services for FY 2005-06

    * Establishes a Community College Capital Fund within the State Treasury for approved capital projects;

    * Reforms the community college auditing process. Audits will now be conducted by independent accountants and subsequently reviewed by the state Department of Education. Previously, the state audited the colleges;

    * Increases community college accountability by requiring annual reporting by the colleges. The legislation requires PDE to annually collect data about community colleges' enrollment, student retention rates, graduation rates, employer satisfaction, student placement into additional education or employment, and more;

    * Requires the State System of Higher Education to report its financial statements in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principals prescribed by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or any other recognized authoritative body, as well as applicable policy and standards promulgated by the state and the federal government;

    * Budget includes $465.197 million for the State System of Higher Education for FY 2005-06

    * Expands the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) by $4 million to allow businesses to donate up to $44 million annually to scholarship organizations ($29.3 million) and educational improvement organizations ($14.7 million). Previously, the EITC program was authorized to provide up to $40 million in state tax credits to businesses that make donations through the EITC program;

    * Establishes reporting requirements for scholarship organizations and educational improvement organizations that receive funding through the EITC program. Scholarship organizations and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations must annually report to the Department of Community and Economic Development by September 1: the number of scholarships awarded to pre-K students, to students in grade K through 8, and to students in grades 9 through 12 during the immediately preceding school year; the total and average amounts of scholarships awarded to students in the delineated grade spans; and scholarships awarded on a county-by-county basis, if the awarding organization collects such information. Educational improvement organizations are required to annually report the name of each innovative educational program that received a grant and total grants awarded to each program during the immediately preceding school year; a description of how each grant was utilized and a description of demonstrated or expected educational improvements; the names of public schools and school districts where innovative educational programs were implemented; and the number of grants made and total amount of grants on a county-by-county basis, if the organization collects such information The legislation prohibits the Department of Education from requiring any other information to be provided;

    * Adds a definition for "Current Expenditure per Average Daily Membership". The definition applies to the Foundation supplement that is part of the Basic Education Subsidy;

    * Defines those eligible for small district assistance as districts with an average daily membership of 1,500 or less and an aid ratio of .5000 of greater. These districts will receive a supplement of $45 per average daily membership for the FY 2005-06 school year;

    * Defines the Basic Education Subsidy Funding Formula for FY 2005-06. Each school district will receive a minimum 2% increase over the amount received for basic education in FY 2004-05. The basic education subsidy also includes special supplemental funding for: Limited English Proficient Students, poverty, enrollment growth, tax effort, small district assistance, and a Foundation supplement (temporary special assistance) for districts that currently spend less than $8,500 per student;

    * Budget includes $4.492 billion for Basic Education Subsidy for FY 2005-06

    * Authorizes up to $10.025 million for Intermediate Unit programs for institutionalized children;

    * Defines the Special Education Subsidy Funding Formula for FY 2005-06. Each school district will receive a minimum 2% increase over the amount received for special education in FY 2004-05;

    * Budget includes $953.064 million for Special Education for FY 2005-06

    * Penalizes school districts, charter schools, vocational-technical schools and intermediate units for failing to file reports on time with the PDE. An institution will forfeit $300 per day from its state subsidies if it does not submit its annual financial report, annual budget, and pupil membership/child accounting reports to PDE within 30 days of the submittal date established by the Department. Forfeiture will continue until the institution submits reports that meet PDE's established criteria. The legislation allows the Secretary of Education to waive the forfeiture if the Secretary is satisfied that extenuating circumstances exist. Additionally, PDE may initiate disciplinary action against a chief school administrator for failure to submit these reports within 60 days of the established deadline. Superintendents' letters of eligibility and administrative certificates held by other chief school officers may be suspended for one year for a first offense and may be revoked for a second or subsequent violation. If a chief school officer is not certified, PDE may take action to prohibit the individual from being employed in a similar position, including rescinding any waivers that allow the individual to be employed;

    * Increases the state reimbursement for school construction and renovation projects. The state reimbursement rate to school districts for eligible elementary school projects is increased to $4,700 per pupil (up from $3,900), secondary school projects will be reimbursed at $6,200 per pupil (up from $5,100), and vocational-technical projects will be reimbursed at $7,600 per pupil (up from $6,300). Reimbursements for elementary/secondary buildings will be calculated based on elementary enrollment and secondary enrollment. (The reimbursement rate is multiplied by rated capacity rather than by actual enrollment.) The legislation also establishes two additional reimbursements for construction projects that use pre-approved designs from the Department of Education's school facility design clearinghouse or whose buildings meet certain environmental design standards. Districts that select a pre-approved building design or meet certain environmental design standards will receive an additional $470 per pupil for elementary schools and $620 per pupil for secondary schools. Increased reimbursement levels will apply to all future construction projects and to construction contracts that were awarded but for which a lease or general obligation bond was not approved by PDE prior to January 1, 2005. This is the first increase to the state reimbursement rate for school construction since 1987;

    * Clarifies that no subcontract awarded to a nonprofit organization to provide services through Pennsylvania Accountability Block Grants may abrogate provision of a collective bargaining agreement between the nonprofit and its employees. Also, amends the authorized use of accountability block grants to allow tutoring to be provided during the school day as long as it does not interfere with a student's regular class schedule or supplant required special education services;

    * Budget includes $200 million for Pennsylvania Accountability Grants for FY 2005-06

    * Repeals parts of Chapter 15 of the Workforce Development Act as they are inconsistent with changes made by House Bill 628.

  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Activity

  • On Thursday, July 14, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors approved a 2 percent tuition increase for the 2005-06 academic year at state-run universities. The $96 increase brings the tuition fee for resident undergraduates to $4,906 from $4,810, the smallest increase in seven years and the third smallest increase in PASSHE's history. The board also increased the existing technology tuition fee by $25 for in-state students and $38 for out-of-state students. The Board also elected Kenneth M. Jarin, a partner in the Ballard Spahr & Ingersoll law firm of Philadelphia, as its new chairman. Jarin succeeds Charles A. Gomulka, who served as chairman from June 2000 to June 2005. Finally, the Board approved an extension of Chancellor Judy Hample's contract through July 31, 2008. Dr. Hample was hired by the Board in June 2001 with a three-year "rolling contract", subject to annual review, and has been granted extension each of the last three years. For more information, visit www.passhe.edu.

  • The Boards of Trustees at both The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh also have adopted their 2005-06 operating budgets, raising tuition by 5.9 percent and 6 percent respectively for full-time resident students. The respective tuition increases for out-of-state students at both Penn State and Pitt total 4.5 percent and 3 percent. Officials from both universities report they were able to keep tuition hikes down due to minor funding cuts in other areas.

  • Other

  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center is now accepting applications for the 2005-2006 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). Participants in this professional development experience develop a broadened understanding of the policy process and the various aspects of education policy, enhance communication and decision making skills, refine their potential for leadership, and expand their network of professional colleagues through participation in nine full-day seminars, national conferences, and a unique strategic leadership training experience conducted by the U.S. Army War College. The nationally-recognized EPFP program was established more than 40 years ago by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership. For more information about the program and an application, see www.eplc.org/fellows.html.

  • This week...The House Education Committee visits the KidsPeace facility in Orefield on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Education hosts a Teacher-to-Teacher Workshop in Tampa, FL on July 18-20. The PA Parent Information and Resource Center hosts a forum on "Planning Ahead: What Parents Should Know About Adequate Yearly Progress" on Tuesday in Philadelphia. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards hosts its National Conference July 21-23 in Washington, D.C.

  • Upcoming Events...The Office of Child Development and the Pennsylvania Child Care Campaign will host a conference to celebrate new subsidized child care eligibility regulations and to discuss both Federal and state subsidized child care issues. The free event will be held on August 4 in Harrisburg. Helen Blank, a nationally known expert on federal child care policy currently with the National Women's Law Center and formerly Director of the Children's Defense Fund Early Care and Education Division will be the featured speaker. For more information or to R.S.V.P., contact Rhoda Vega at 717-772-2098 or rvega@state.pa.us by Monday August 1, 2005.

  • Mark your calendar...EPLC's fourth annual Education Policy and Leadership Conference will be held March 12-14, 2006 in Harrisburg. Please save the dates on your calendar! For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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