EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, September 11, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    Pennsylvania State Budget
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    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.



    This morning (Friday), Senate Republicans and Democrats and House Democrats announced their three caucuses have agreed to a budget framework to settle the state budget impasse.  The House Republican leader has been quick to denounce the agreement as spending too much.  Governor Rendell has criticized the agreement for proposed cuts to education, Pre-K counts, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and more.  Rendell also is questioning the revenue assumptions.

    Leaders of the three caucuses in agreement said they would have staff working on budget details and documents over the weekend and anticipated the Budget Conference Committee would meet early Monday.  All said positive things about the importance of education funding and several specifically mentioned Governor Rendell’s insistence on at least a $300 million increase for basic education subsidy as a major consideration.  They predicted a vote in the House and Senate late next week.

    The framework includes:

    • Total spending of $27.945 billion.
    • No broad-based tax increases.
    • $300 million increase for basic education subsidy.
    • Unspecified cuts to education items (apparently including Accountability Block Grants and more).
    • Use of the entire $755 million Rainy Day Fund for 2009-2010.
    • Adding table games at currently authorized casinos.
    • Increasing the limits and taxing small games of chance.
    • Delaying the phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.

    Here is the budget press release issued from Senate Republicans today: http://www.pasenategop.com/news/archived/2009/0909/budget-091109.htm   House Democrats issued their own release with the same content.


    In other budget-related action:

    • The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a state budget bill (Senate Bill 1085) – introduced by Senate Republicans just this week – creating another potential vehicle for moving forward the state budget.  The bill is almost identical to the plan previously introduced by Senate Republicans in Senate Bill 850, which cut $1 billion in funding for education programs.  The current content of the bill is largely irrelevant given the apparent budget agreement to which Senate Republicans are a party.



    The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign is withholding analysis and comment about the newly announced three-caucus budget agreement until more specific details are available.

    The Campaign continues to remind legislators of the importance of keeping the 6-year plan for school finance reform in Pennsylvania on track.  That plan calls for an increase of $418 million for basic education in 2009-2010, the 2nd year of the plan.

    Students across the Commonwealth are making real academic progress, as last week’s release of state test scores makes clear.  Two other facts are clear from the data released last week. Districts that have received significant state funding increases in recent years have been among those making the most progress.  And districts furthest from their funding adequacy targets are among those furthest from their achievement targets as well. 

    The 2009 test scores support continued investments through the basic education funding formula.  School districts meeting their funding adequacy targets had 81 percent of students tested on grade level, compared with 74 percent in districts with average funding adequacy gaps and only 55 percent in districts with the largest funding adequacy gaps (40 percent or more).

    For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, please visit www.paschoolfunding.org.



    The National Center for Education Statistics recently released data on the revenues and expenditures of public school districts for the 2006-2007 school year (Fiscal Year 2007).  Learn more in its report at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009338



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    Education Policy Fellowship Program

    The Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program, sponsored by EPLC, kicked-off its 2009-2010 sessions with a two-day retreat in Harrisburg this week with a new class of thirty-three fellows.  This is the 11th year for the Fellowship Program, affiliated with the Washington-D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership and a network of more than ten other state programs.  Almost 300 Pennsylvania Fellows have completed the rigorous ten-month professional development program during the past ten years.



    Next week…

  • The Senate Education Committee holds a public hearing on the nomination of David F. Girard-diCarlo to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Monday in Harrisburg.

  • The Pennsylvania State Board of Education meets Wednesday and 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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