EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, October 14, 2005

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • On Wednesday, the House Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on the Medical Assistance (MA) Premium for Children with Disabilities. There is concern that the new monthly premium proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) could negatively impact special education funding. In order to continue providing services during a tight budget year for Medicaid, as part of the 2005-06 state budget DPW proposed imposing a sliding scale premium for MA services for children with disabilities on families whose incomes exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. Many families have private insurance for their children and use MA to "bridge the gap" of services not covered by private insurers; some of these families would then pay two insurance premiums - one for MA and one for private coverage. DPW Secretary Estelle Richman said if the cost of the state premium causes families to drop out of the MA program it could "have the unintended consequence of reducing federal funding to Local Education Agencies, school districts and Intermediate Units, through the School-Based Access Program which is tied to the number of children enrolled in MA."

    School districts that provide health-related services for special education students are eligible to have a portion of the service costs reimbursed through federal Medicaid dollars as long as the student receiving services is enrolled in MA and a parent grants permission. Under federal law, districts are responsible for providing health-related services for special needs students and, for students not enrolled in MA, "the full funding burden" will fall on school districts, said the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). PSBA recommends that DPW delay implementing the premium until an analysis is completed that determines the real cost savings of the premiums, the additional costs to districts, whether families will participate or be intermittent users, and whether the program will damage special education and early intervention services. For more information on testimony provided at the hearing, contact the office of Committee Chair George Kenney at (717) 787-8523.

  • On Tuesday, the House Education Committee met in Philadelphia for an informational meeting on restructuring high schools. For more information, contact the office of Committee Chair Jess Stairs at (717) 783-9311.

  • Research and Reports

    Education Funding

  • In its latest issue brief, IssuesPA analyzes the Commonwealth Caucus' proposal to fund education in Pennsylvania through an expanded sales tax. Three articles in the "Replacing School Property Tax with a Broadened Sales Tax" series look at "Who Would be Accountable for Funding Education" at www.issuespa.net/articles/14724/, "Implications of Funding Education in Pennsylvania Through a Sales Tax" at www.issuespa.net/articles/14725/, and "The Spending Side of the Equation" at www.issuespa.net/articles/14723/.

  • Education Statistics

  • The National Center for Education Statistics has published the "Digest of Education Statistics, 2004", providing information on elementary, secondary and postsecondary enrollment; teachers; student performance; education expenditures; international comparisons; and more. Access the digest at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/.

  • No Child Left Behind

  • The Education Commission of the States issued a new policy brief that looks at "State Involvement in School Restructuring Under No Child Left Behind in the 2004-05 School Year". The paper discusses lessons learned from restructuring efforts in 13 states and the respective roles state education agencies and local education agencies have played in school restructuring. Read the policy brief at www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/64/28/6428.pdf.

  • "Although significant challenges remain, states, districts and providers are building on their experiences with supplemental services and increasing the efficiency of multiple aspects of implementation," according to highlights of case studies on federally-funded tutoring from the U.S. Department of Education. The Department evaluated the implementation of supplemental services by nine school districts in six states and discusses the successes and challenges of implementation in terms of services provided for students, state activities, district activities, supplemental service providers, and parents in its second evaluation of the supplemental services program. Read "Case Studies of Supplemental Services Under the No Child Left Behind Act: Findings from 2003-04" at www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/supplementalyear2/highlights-year2.pdf.

  • Family Involvement

  • The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory puts forth strategies for engaging families from diverse populations in their children's education in the latest issue brief from the Lab's National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools. Read "Reaching Out to Diverse Populations: What Can Schools Do to Foster Family-School Connections?" at www.sedl.org/connections/resources/rb/rb5-diverse.pdf.

  • Upcoming NAEP Release

  • Results from the 2005 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) will be released next week. Math and reading results for fourth and eights graders will be available beginning at 10:00 a.m. on October 19 on a new web site at www.nationsreportcard.gov.

  • Other

  • Register Now! The Education Policy and Leadership Center will host an Education Finance Symposium on November 14-15 at the Wyndham Harrisburg-Hershey. Participants will learn about how finance reform has been achieved in other states, as well as reform proposals currently in the works in Pennsylvania. Registration materials and hotel information are available now at www.eplc.org/financesymposium.html.

  • All legislation from the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including bills cited in this Notebook, can be found at www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm.

  • Next week...PENNSYLVANIA EVENTS - Monday (October 17): The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee holds a public hearing on the Farms to School program. Tuesday: The Senate Local Government Committee meets to consider House Bill 102. The House Finance Committee meets to consider House Bill 1427. Wednesday: The House State Government Committee meets to consider House Bill 1599. The House Local Government Committee meets to consider House Bills 1860, 1866 & 1867. Thursday: EPLC hosts a Pennsylvania Education Policy Forum - Western Pennsylvania Breakfast Series on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Dr. Gerald Zahorchak, Acting Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will be the guest speaker. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association in partnership with the legislative Local Tax Policy Caucus hosts two public meetings on Property Tax Reform in Warrington and in Edinboro.

    NATIONAL EVENTS - The Association of School Business Officers International holds its annual meeting on October 21-25 in Boston. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development holds its annual Conference on Teaching and Learning on October 22-25 in San Francisco.

    For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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