EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, October 9, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    State Budget – Done!
    EPLC News
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State House
    U.S. Congress

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



    This afternoon, more than 100 days late, the Pennsylvania state budget is practically complete.  The Senate has passed a budget (spending) bill previously approved by the House, and it has been sent to the Governor.  A key revenue bill has already been sent to Governor Rendell.  An important Fiscal Code bill is expected to be finalized today also.

    The budget is balanced using a lot of federal stimulus funding as well as non-recurring state revenue, including $755 million to be transferred from the Rainy Day Fund.

    It is a mixed picture for basic education.  The good news is that there will be a $300 million increase in funding for basic education subsidy to school districts.  This is made possible by the use of $654 million in federal stimulus stabilization funds, offsetting a decrease of $354 million in state funds for this very important appropriation.  This $300 million increase will be distributed using the state’s new basic education subsidy formula, slightly tweaked from the formula first used last year, and following suggestions supported by the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign.

    The bad news is that several other appropriations that also resulted in funding for school districts last year have been cut or eliminated.  These cuts total more than $100 million.

    There also are other cuts affecting education-related activities.  The Earned Income Tax Credit which supports Private School Scholarship Organizations, Public School Improvement Organizations, and Pre-K Programs will be cut this year by 20% and even more in 2010-2011.  State support for the Pennsylvania Public Television Network, museums and libraries, and the Pennsylvania Arts Council is also cut substantially.  There are slight cuts affecting higher education including the PHEAA grant program.  The proposed tax on various live performances affecting many arts programs was withdrawn.

    Our friends at Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children report that “On the whole, children’s programs avoided damaging cuts.  In some instances, investments for children’s programs actually increased.”   Analysis will be available soon.

    EPLC will provide additional budget details and analysis in a special edition of Education Notebook.



  • The Education Policy and Leadership Center's 2009 Education Policy Leadership Awards Reception will be held on Wednesday, October 21 at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey.  Awardees include State Representative Dwight Evans (Donley Leadership Award); James Buckheit and Mary Frances Archey (EPLC Leadership Program Alumni Award); Public Citizens for Children and Youth, PA State System of Higher Education, and U.S. Army War College (EPLC Partner Award).  For tickets and program ad information, see www.eplc.org/awards/reception.html.

  • Save the date!  EPLC’s 2009 Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium will take place Thursday, November 12 in Harrisburg.



    State House

    On Monday, the House Education Committee held an informational meeting on the revised Chapter 4 regulations (Keystone Exams proposal).  State Board of Education Chairman Joseph Torsella was present to hear legislators’ concerns and comments and to answer questions.  For more information, contact Chris Wakeley, Executive Director of the House Education Committee, at 717-787-7044.  The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) is set to consider the final regulations at its October 22nd meeting in Harrisburg.



    Teacher quality and equity was the focus of a hearing held last week by the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor.  The purpose of the hearing was to get an update on the progress states and school districts are making toward ensuring that every student is taught by an effective teacher.  Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) states and school districts are required to address teacher inequities so that low-income and minority students are not taught by inexperienced or unqualified teachers at higher rates than other children.  For more information on the hearing and to read the testimony presented to Congress, click here.



  • On Tuesday (October 6), Gov. Ed Rendell proclaimed October at Parent Involvement Month in Pennsylvania.  The Governor stood with parents and representatives of the Pennsylvania Parent and Information Resource Center (PIRC) at the State Capitol to celebrate the importance of parent engagement in their children’s academic achievement.  For more information about resources available to parents in Pennsylvania, contact PIRC at http://www.center-school.org/pa-pirc/.

  • This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that five universities (Arcadia University, Drexel University, Eastern University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Wilkes University) will share $2.06 million in federal Title II grants to help more math and science teachers become highly qualified as required by the No Child Left Behind Act.  Under NCLB, all public school teachers with primary responsibility for direct instruction in core content areas are required to demonstrate that they satisfy the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher.  A Highly Qualified Teacher must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, a valid PA teaching certificate, and demonstrate subject matter competency for the core content area they teach.  A total of 657 math, biology, chemistry, general science and other science teachers from northeastern, southeastern, south-central and southwestern Pennsylvania will participate in programs that will enable them to meet these requirements.  For more information about Highly Qualified Teachers and the grant program, see www.teaching.state.pa.us.

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is inviting schools, universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations and businesses to apply for 2010 Environmental Education Grants.  The grants provide funding to create or develop projects that support environmental education about topics such as: sustainable energy sources and technologies, air quality, watersheds and wetlands, Chesapeake Bay watershed education and carbon capture and storage.  Grants are awarded for up to $7,500.  The deadline to apply is December 18.  For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us keyword: “EE Grants,” or call 717-772-1828.



    Next week…

  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and Pennsylvania School Boards Association hold their annual Fall Leadership Conference on October 14-16 in Hershey.

  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials holds its Transportation Conference on October 15-16 in State College.

  • PDE and the Center for Schools and Communities hold the 2009 Statewide Conference on Educating Homeless Children in Pennsylvania on October 15-16 in State College.

  • The National Association of State Boards of Education holds its annual conference on October 15-17 in Cincinnati, OH.

  • The House Intergovernmental Affairs Committee holds a public hearing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Thursday in Norristown.

  • The 2009 Pennsylvania School Social Work Conference takes place Friday in Hershey.

  • 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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