EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, December 7, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Department of Education
    Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Commission

    The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.



  • Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak and State Board of Education Chairman Joseph Torsella last week joined with Rep. James Roebuck and Sen. Jeff Piccola – majority chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees – to announce a comprehensive plan to address school safety issues.  The statewide initiative calls for the adoption of school climate standards, clearer school violence reporting requirements and better tools for monitoring school safety.  The announcement coincided with the release of the state’s annual school safety report, which indicates that 68,000 incidents of school violence occurred during the 2008-2009 school year – about the same level as five years ago.

    Torsella indicated that the State Board of Education will begin drafting regulations to assist PDE in this initiative and urged the legislature to enact Senate Bills 55 and 56 – sponsored by Senator Piccola – which revise the state’s school violence reporting system and establish stricter hiring policies.  These bills were passed by the Senate on June 25, 2009 and await further action in the House.

    Also in attendance at the announcement were Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and Everett Area School District Superintendent Royce Boyd.  Dr. Ackerman endorsed the proposal and said she welcomes PDE’s assistance in conducting on-site reviews of certain schools.  Philadelphia has 25 schools that are categorized as “persistently dangerous” under state law.  Dr. Boyd shared success stories experienced under the “Raising Healthy Children” program in Bedford County, which partners with educators, parents and caregivers in teaching expectations for behavior, social skills training and classroom management.

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education launched a redesigned web site last week that makes it easier for students, parents, teachers, school administrators and taxpayers to find the information they need.  Visit the redesigned site at www.education.state.pa.us.



    Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak appeared before the Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Commission on Thursday to provide a status update on federal stimulus funding for education in Pennsylvania.  Click here for PDE’s status report, which describes the education funding streams and competitive grant programs provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), how much has been awarded to and expended by Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth’s next steps for continuing to disburse ARRA dollars and submit applications for competitive grants.

    Additionally, PDE Deputy Secretary for Administration Mike Walsh discussed the new Qualified School Construction Bonds program and the expanded Qualified Zone Academy Bonds program and said guidelines for applying for these construction bonds will be available to school districts within the next two weeks.  Click here for a summary of tax-preferred bond programs available in Pennsylvania through ARRA.

    Finally, James Creedon, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS), said the state will endeavor to develop a list of how school districts plan to use their ARRA dollars to support the Commonwealth’s aspirational goal that at least ten percent of ARRA funds go to small disadvantaged businesses as contractors, subcontractors, grantees, subgrantees and suppliers.  DGS hopes that by developing a directory of how housing authorities, school districts, and other ARRA recipients plan to use their funds, small disadvantage businesses will be made aware of opportunities to compete for contracts.



    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is scheduled to return to session on Monday, December 7.

    The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, December 15.

    This week…

  • The Senate Education Committee holds a public hearing on Pennsylvania’s costing-out study on Tuesday in Harrisburg.

  • The House Finance Committee meets Tuesday to consider House Bill 465, House Bill 1428, House Bill 1598 and House Bill 2066.

  • The House Education Committee holds a public hearing on House Bill 1162 and House Bill 1163, related to sex education, on Wednesday.

  • The Learning Policy Center at the University of Pittsburgh hosts a colloquium on "Beyond the Business of Parallel Play: Engineering Change in METS" on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

  • For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.
EPLC Education Notebook is published by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Permission to reprint or electronically redistribute the Notebook in whole or in part is granted provided attribution to EPLC is provided.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center is an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization. The Mission of EPLC is to encourage and support the enactment and implementation of effective state-level education policies in order to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.

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