EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reminder: Tuesday, February 13, will be the first day to circulate petitions for school board elections in 500 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts (only Philadelphia has an appointed board). More than 2000 school board positions across the Commonwealth will be on the May 15 Primary Election ballot.

    Pennsylvania Education Policy Activity

  • Representatives of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc. (APA), the Denver-based consulting firm hired to conduct Pennsylvania's statewide education costing-out study, met with stakeholders interested in the analysis on Wednesday to present an overview of how the study will be conducted. The meeting was convened by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, which was directed by Act 114 of 2006 to provide for a study that will determine the basic cost per pupil to provide an education that will permit students to meet the state's academic standards and assessments. For information about the State Board's hiring of APA, see www.pde.state.pa.us/stateboard_ed/cwp/view.asp?Q=124155&A=3.

    APA will use four methods to analyze the resources needed for all students to attain proficiency on state standards. The successful school district approach will determine a base cost of education in districts that are identified as "successful" based upon specific criteria developed by APA. As part of this analysis APA also will examine schools that are identified as high performing and low spending.

    The professional judgment method will focus on identifying the resources schools need to be successful, not on dollars. APA will convene panels of education professionals to discuss what resources hypothetical Pennsylvania schools and districts need to attain proficiency on state standards; some panels will look at needs related to specific issues such as special education. Panelists will be nominated through various statewide education associations and selected by APA based on their job experience, geographic location and other factors. Additional groups will be convened to solicit input from community members such as parents, school board members and business leaders.

    Using the evidence-based approach, APA will create hypothetical schools using current education research and conduct a web-based inquiry asking Pennsylvania educators and citizens to react to these research-based models. Finally, the cost function approach will incorporate a statistical analysis of performance and spending data with an efficiency analysis that will allow APA to assess the cost of enrollment changes and a district's sparcity or density. The study will consider transportation costs, but does not take into account costs related to capital or food service.

    Ultimately, APA will determine a base cost (sometimes referred to as a foundation level) that represents the cost of educating a student with no special needs attending a district with no special circumstances to meet state requirements and student performance expectations. APA will then determine variations of this foundation level based on unique factors that impact school districts (size, location) and their students (special education needs, poverty and English language learners).

    A final report will be delivered in November 2007. For more information about the costing-out study, contact project manager Dr. Robert Feir at rfeir@edstrat21.com.

  • Pennsylvania General Assembly News

  • The Senate has announced its Committee membership for the 2007-2008 legislative session. The Senate Education Committee members are:

    Sen. James Rhoades (R-29) - Chair
    Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) - Vice Chair
    Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20)
    Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16)
    Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48)
    Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-6)
    Sen. Raphael Musto (D-14) - Minority Chair
    Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19)
    Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7)
    Sen. Gerald LaValle (D-47)

    A list of all Senate Committees is available at www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/senators_sc.cfm.

  • Information about the Pennsylvania General Assembly is available at www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.


  • EPLC is again offering regional Workshops for 2007 school board candidates. The Workshops are being offered by EPLC with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). Workshops are intended for incumbent board members and new candidates, as well as all citizens who plan to be actively involved in school board elections as campaign volunteers or community leaders.

    The League of Women Voters of Indiana County sponsored a very successful Workshop for School Board Candidates on January 20 with approximately 25 incumbent board members, new or prospective candidates, and community leaders participating. Representatives of EPLC and PSBA presented.

    EPLC's day-long Candidate Workshops are planned for Valley Forge (February 10), Mechanicsburg (February 24), Allentown (March 3) and Monroeville (March 10). Registration is $30 which includes lunch, break refreshments, and materials. For more information and a registration form, please see www.eplc.org/schoolboardworkshop.html.

  • Next Week...The PA State Board of Education holds a public roundtable on the state's special education and gifted education regulations on Monday in Schnecksville. The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday on implementation of the articulation agreement program created by Act 114 of 2006. EPLC's Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program meets Friday in Harrisburg. For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

  • Save the Date...EPLC will host the 5th Annual Pennsylvania Education Policy and Leadership Conference on March 29-30, 2007. Keynote speakers include Wendy Puriefoy, President of the Public Education Network, and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Jerry Zahorchak. Registration materials will be on the EPLC Web Site late next week.

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