EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, August 24, 2007

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • The Task Force on School Cost Reduction met Wednesday to explore potential savings for school districts through shared services, with a focus on sharing administrative functions. The Committee was established by Special Session Act 1 of 2006 as an advisory body to recommend cost saving options for school districts. A report of the group's final recommendations is due in October.

    This week, the Task Force heard a presentation about what services currently are offered by the state's intermediate units (IUs), recognizing that the type of services provided varies considerably based on an IU's capacity and community needs. IUs are intermediary agencies established by the state in 1971 to provide services to school districts regionally in a more cost effective manner. Today, IUs provide a vast array of programs from special education to professional development to adult literacy, as well as various administrative services such as joint purchasing, public relations, insurance pools, technology assistance and more. School districts choose which services they purchase from an IU. Task Force members asked for more information about what services each of the state's 29 IUs currently provides and questioned whether there are IUs that should expand their cadre of services and whether there are districts that are not tapping these services, but should.

    The Task Force also reviewed the Common Cents initiative enacted in the current state budget, which makes $1 million available for grants to study whether school districts can realize savings through sharing back-office operations such as food services, finance and payroll, purchasing, human resources and transportation; consortiums of districts may apply through their IUs for funding to undertake such an analysis. The Task Force likely will endorse the Common Cents concept in its final recommendations. The Task Force also likely will recommend that districts be given the option to participate in shared service agreements not just at the IU level but at any level where savings can be found, whether that be through smaller district consortia or collaborations with other government units.

    The Task Force will next meet on September 5 to discuss special education. For more information about its work, see www.pde.state.pa.us/k12_finances/cwp/view.asp?a=305&q=123154&k12_financesNav=|10481|&k12_financesNav=|4339|.

  • The House Finance Committee began traveling the state this week to gather public input on House Bill 1600, which would increase state sales and income taxes to deliver property tax relief. The Committee met in Stroudsburg and Pottsville. EPLC will provide more detail on the legislation and the hearings following two additional hearings next week in Fairless Hills and in Oley.

  • Correction...The August 16 edition of the EPLC Education Notebook incorrectly identified the title for the new teaching certificate for grades 4 through 8 approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission last week as part of more comprehensive revisions to Chapter 49 (Certification of Professional Personnel). The certificate spanning grades 4-8 is the elementary/middle level certificate, not early childhood/middle level certificate.

  • Information about the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including details on contacting your local state representatives and locating bills cited in this Notebook, is available at www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.


    Next Week...

  • The House Finance Committee will hold public hearings on property tax reform (related to House Bill 1600) on Monday in Fairless Hills and on Wednesday in Oley.

  • The House Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on House Bill 1184 on Thursday in Coaldale.

  • Early Bird registration ends September 5 for the October 4-5 Fourth Annual High School Policy Conference in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Learn more and Register online at www.all4ed.org/register.

  • Mark your calendar for future EPLC Events:

    o Annual Awards Dinner - October 17, 2007 - Harrisburg
    o Annual Education Finance Symposium - November 15-16, 2007 - Harrisburg
    o Annual Conference - March 13-14, 2008 - Harrisburg

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

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