EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, February 6, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - Governor Rendell’s Proposed 2009-2010 State Budget
    - State House
    - State Board of Education Research and Reports
    EPLC News

    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.

    State House

    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.



    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.



  • Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board of Westmoreland/Fayette and PA CareerLink is offering a tuition waiver program for people who have lost their jobs due to plant closings or layoffs that occurred on or after January 1, 2008.  The tuition and fee waiver will apply to high-priority occupation programs that have plentiful openings in the region such as: early childhood education, medical office technology, machine technology, computer technology, welding, emergency medical technician and nurse aides.  Dislocated workers may apply for the tuition waiver program through April 24th.

  • Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Keith McCall has appointed George D. Bedwick, Esq. to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).  Bedwick will replace Commissioner John Mizner whose term expired in June 2008.  IRRC provides oversight and review of all proposed and existing rules and regulations issued by departments, boards, commissions and agencies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will hold its Annual Budget Summit on Thursday, February 26 in Harrisburg to take an in-depth look at the state and federal budgets and discuss ways to work together to protect investments and quality of life for Pennsylvanians.  Registration is free. The deadline to register is February 23, 2009.  For more information, contactKathleen Daugherty at daugherty@keystoneresearch.org.



    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference 2009 takes place in Hershey on February 8-11.

  • The Senate Education Committee holds a public hearing on school violence on Wednesday, February 11 in Harrisburg.

  • The House Education Committee holds an information briefing on recent PDE activities and initiatives on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

  • The House Education Subcommittee on Special Education holds a public hearing on the results of a costing-out study for special education on Thursday in Harrisburg.

  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center hosts two Pennsylvania Education Policy Forums on the Governor’s proposed education budget in Harrisburg on Wednesday and in Philadelphia on Thursday.

  • The Learning Policy Center at the University of Pittsburgh hosts a colloquium with Michael Cohen, President of Achieve, Inc., on Thursday.

  • 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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