EPLC Education Notebook
Friday, February 6, 2009
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.
Governor Rendell’s Proposed 2009-2010 State Budget
Gov. Ed Rendell presented his state budget proposal for FY 2009-2010 this week, and emphasized the importance of supporting K-12 education in the midst of economic adversity facing the state. Rendell proposed to increase funding for basic education by $300 million, a measure critical to continue closing the state’s school funding gap identified in the 2007 Costing-Out Study and to satisfy a long-term commitment to fully implement the new school funding formula enacted last year by the General Assembly.
The Governor’s proposed budget focuses strongly on initiatives to strengthen high schools and ensure students have the opportunity to pursue higher education, as well as initiatives to create efficiencies in education by exploring school district consolidation and purchasing school employee health benefits at the state level. Rendell also said the Department of Education will share in shouldering the burden of the state’s economic situation with $205 million in cuts and the elimination of 20 programs.
See the February 4 special edition of EPLC’s Education Notebook for details on the Governor’s education budget plan.
This week, the House Education Committee held its first meeting of the new legislative session and unanimously adopted the following bills (each bill has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee):
House Bill 114: Revises the focus and content of the state’s master plan for higher education which the State Board of Education is currently charged with adopting every five years. The bill would replace existing requirements with language supported by the State Board that would require the master plan to describe the current higher education landscape, identify unmet needs with regard to career fields, geographic and financial access, and uncover gaps and opportunities for collaboration with basic education, workforce and economic development.
House Bill 104: Authorizes the Commonwealth to join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and establishes a State Council on Interstate Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The purpose of the legislation is to remove barriers that children of military families often face when moving from one school district to another. The compact would address such issues as: transfer of education records; graduation; participation in extracurricular activities; and special education needs of military children.
House Bill 101: Requires PDE to disseminate economic education and personal financial literacy curriculum materials to public and private schools and to develop a clearinghouse of these resources on the PDE web site. A separate fund in the State Treasury would be established to support the implementation of this program. The legislation also requires PDE to recognize schools that implement exemplary economic and personal financial literacy programs.
State Board of Education
The State Board of Education held the first of several public hearings on high school reform in Allentown on Thursday. For more information, contact the Board at (717) 787-3787.
RESEARCH AND REPORTS
Pennsylvania taxes and spending have held steady for the past three decades but fall short in tax fairness and tax burden according to a new tax handbook released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC). Debunking myths and making the case for greater investments in education, workforce development, transportation and other services, the tax primer examines the state’s role in shifting the cost of many public services onto local taxpayers, creating inequities across school districts and resulting in higher taxes for poorer communities. Written in plain language, the handbook explains state and local tax structures and how the state budget is formulated.
EPLC will sponsor a series of regional full-day workshops for 2009 School Board Candidates. Workshops will be held in the Philadelphia region (Saturday, February 7), Pittsburgh region (Saturday, February 14), Harrisburg region (Saturday, February 21) and the Lehigh Valley (Saturday, March 7). Conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, the Workshops are intended for those considering a run for school board (incumbents and non-incumbents), anyone interested in helping others run for school board, or those who just want to know more about the work of school boards and school directors. Click here for details and to register online.
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.