EPLC Education Notebook
Friday, November 7, 2008
Content in this edition:
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.
ELECTION 2008: PENNSYLVANIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
With half of the State Senate and the entire State House up for re-election on Tuesday, returns show Republicans maintained their majority in the Pennsylvania Senate with a gain of one seat (29 R - 20 D; one vacancy), while Democrats firmed up their hold on the Pennsylvania House with a gain of three seats (104 D - 99 R). Click here for statewide election results from the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Republicans won five of the seven open seats in the Senate. No Senate incumbents were defeated. New members joining the Senate next year with party-affiliation and their district number are:
Lawrence Farnese (D-1)
A special election will be held to fill the seat of Senator James Rhoades (R-29) who died tragically in a car accident shortly before Election Day. Rhoades, whose name remained on the November ballot, won re-election, triggering a special election to fill the vacant seat.
House Democrats lost four Western Pennsylvania seats to Republican candidates, but made gains in Southeastern Pennsylvania to maintain their majority in the chamber. Incumbent upsets occurred in House District 15 with the loss of Rep. Vince Biancucci (D) to Jim Christiana (R), the loss of Rep. Dan Surra (D-75) to Matt Gabler (R) and the loss of Rep. Chris King (D-142) to challenger Frank Farry (R). Rep. Frank Andrews Shimkus (D-113), who campaigned on the Republican ticket after losing his spot on the Democratic ballot during the Primary, also was defeated by challenger Kevin Murphy (D-113). New members joining the House next year with party-affiliation and district number are:
Tom Houghton (D-13)
Jim Christiana (R-15)
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue reported that the state collected $1.6 billion in General Fund revenue in October. This is $283.4 million, or 14.7%, less than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $7.4 billion, which is $564.8 million, or 7.1 percent, below estimate. Secretary Tom Wolf noted that, “more than half of the October revenue shortfall is attributed to lower-than-expected non-tax revenues, the result of the unprecedented volatility of the equity markets in October.” In an effort to address revenue shortfalls, Governor Rendell announced last week $350 million in budget cuts, including a general hiring freeze and bans on out of state travel and the purchase of new vehicles for the state fleet.
Changes to state regulations governing gifted education (Chapter 16) took effect with their publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on November 1. Among the changes, the regulations: establish a compliance monitoring process for school districts’ provision of gifted services; reduce the caseload of students assigned to a gifted education teacher from 75 to 65 (beginning July 1, 2010) and the class roster from 25 to 20 students; require a single IEP for special education students who also are identified as gifted; require the results of student evaluations for gifted services to be provided to parents within 60 calendar days, rather than 60 school days; and also require re-evaluation of students to occur within 60 calendar days (however, this calendar requirement would not apply during a school’s summer break).
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.