EPLC Education Notebook

Friday, June 11, 2010

    Content in this edition:
    EPLC News – Education Policy Fellowship Program
    Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State Senate
    - State House

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



    Applications are available now for the 2010-2011 Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP)which is sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).

    With nearly 300 graduates in its first eleven years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  Act 48 credits are available to individuals holding Pennsylvania teaching or administrative certificates, and State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.

    The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 16-17, 2010 and continues through June 2011.  Applications are being accepted now.  For schedule and more information or to download an application, please click on http://www.eplc.org/fellows.html.

    Since space is limited to approximately 30 positions, it is advisable to submit an application as soon as possible.  The application may be copied from the EPLC Web Site, but must be submitted by mail with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.  If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or cowell@eplc.org.



    The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign released a new report this week highlighting dramatic drops in local revenue, potential staff reductions and program cuts for school districts statewide.  “Student Achievement Gains at Risk: Schools Cutting Staff and Programs as Revenues Decline,” is the result of a recent survey of school districts across the Commonwealth coordinated by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA).  The survey findings indicate significant shortfalls in local school tax revenues and interest earnings of $343 million this year and found that more than two-thirds of responding school districts will cut instructional staff and one-third plan to cut instructional programs to make ends meet.  Click here to read the full report.


    State Senate

  • On Tuesday (June 8), the Senate Education Committee approved the following legislation, which awaits further consideration by the full Senate:

    Senate Bill 250: would extend the Mandate Waiver Program, which allows school districts, intermediate units and vocational-technical schools to apply to PDE for waivers from certain requirements in the Public School Code.  The Mandate Waiver program is part of the Education Empowerment Act which is set to expire June 30, 2010.  The bill was amended to allow PDE to grant a waiver in cases where the school district intends to solicit multiple prime and single prime construction bids and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

    Senate Resolution 343: would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the current funding structure for libraries, including the funding models used by other states, and make recommendations for changes and modernization of the Library Code no later than November 30, 2010.

    Senate Bill 553: would require supermajority approval to increase a school district’s tax millage rate.  Currently, under Act 1 of 2006, proposed tax increases above an inflationary index are subject to voter referendum, with certain exceptions.  SB 553 would require a two-thirds majority vote by the school board on all tax increases, including those below the inflation index.

    Senate Bill 890: would require annual reporting by any public or private school entity that provides interscholastic athletic opportunities for students in grades 7-12.  Information such as the total number of students by gender and race/ethnicity involved in interscholastic athletic competitions, number of teams, total expenditures for each team, and the number of trainers and coaches per team would be reported on a disclosure form provided by PDE.  SB 890 would require PDE and school entities to publish, notify and make the disclosure form available to the public.  In addition, PDE must submit an annual report regarding school entity compliance with the disclosure requirements to the General Assembly by no later than January 15 annually.
    Senate Bill 1134: would establish conditions for restoring driving privileges to youth whose driver’s licenses were suspended because they were convicted of truancy.  SB 1134 would allow driving privileges to be restored prior to the expiration of the period of suspension provided that PennDOT has received proof that related fines and court costs have been paid and that the individual has either completed high school, obtained a GED diploma or performed a minimum of 50 hours of community service at an educational institution for each period of suspension.

    Senate Bill 1385: would create a Military Science Teaching Certificate.  A candidate for a Military Science certification must have at least 20 years of documented military service in the armed forces and a valid military science certificate or endorsement authorizing employment as a military science instructor issued by the relevant branch of the armed forces in which the military service was rendered.  Individuals holding this certificate would be certified to teach only Junior ROTC courses.

    Members of the Education Committee also were briefed on Senate Bill 1321, which would require that all administrative functions of school districts of the second, third and fourth class within a county be consolidated at the county level.  Administrative functions include, but are not limited to, payroll obligations, financial accounting and reporting, purchasing and contracting with insurers, vendor and others.  Under the proposal, the governing body of each county would appoint a single county superintendent for all schools within the county and may appoint a solicitor and other appointees and employees as it may deem proper.  The new section would not abrogate any provision of a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract that exists prior to the effective date.  Each school district would be required to pay a pro rata share of the costs incurred by a county under this plan.  No vote was taken on SB 1321.

  • EPLC President Ron Cowell testified before the Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission on Monday.  Read Cowell’s testimony and the remarks of other presenters here: www.senatorargall.com/commission/060710/agenda.htm.


    State House

  • This week, the House Education Committee passed the following legislation, which awaits further action by the full House:

    House Resolution 720: would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the Commonwealth’s public school library services for students in grades K-12.  The report and recommendations to address school library inequities or insufficiencies affecting disadvantaged students and communities would be due no later than June 30, 2011.

    House Bill 2460: would create the Pennsylvania Math Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Initiative within PDE and a statewide MESA commission to oversee the advancement of STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) education in the state.  The bill was amended to revise the focus of the MESA initiative to include emphasis on goals related to diversity and inclusion of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged groups in all operational and programmatic activities.  The amendment further clarifies that the MESA initiative does not replace STEM activities or structure, but is intended to build upon it.

    Senate Bill 766: would establish the Science Technology Partnerships Program (better known as Science in Motion) in state law.  Under the proposal, state funding would be made available to higher education institutions to purchase high tech science equipment to augment science curricula and provide professional development activities to science teachers employed in partnering schools and school districts.  SB 766 passed unanimously in the Senate on March 9, 2010.

  • The House Professional Licensure Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1653 (Speech-Language and Hearing Licensure Act) on Tuesday.  This bill defines what a Speech-Language Pathologist is, as well as requires all Speech-Language Pathologists to be licensed.  The bill also would create a State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology to oversee all licensed speech-language pathologists.  Under the bill, applicants for all licenses would be subject to approval by the State Board.  Pathologists working in schools would be required to have a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.  In 2012, applicants for a license in audiology would be required to hold a doctorate.  A point of contention with House Bill 1653 is that the bill replaces the Department of Education’s current role overseeing Speech-Language Pathologists with the new State Board of Examiners and requires all pathologists working in schools to be universally licensed.  Opponents feel speech-language pathologists in schools should not need a license since these are special educators who do not provide rehabilitation or run a private practice.  To read the testimonies presented to the Committee, click here.



    Next week…

    The House Education Committee meets Wednesday to consider House Bill 1803, House Bill 2060 and House Bill 2454.
    For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

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