EPLC Masthead
EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In this issue

The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC web site at http://www.eplc.org/publications-reports/weekly-policy-notebook/


EPLC's annual Pennsylvania Education Finance Symposium will take place this Thursday, November 17 at the Radisson Hotel Conference Center in Camp Hill.  This year's symposium will feature two national experts on school funding issues:  Allan Odden, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the School of Education at University of Wisconsin, and Michael Rebell, Professor and Executive Director of The Campaign for Educational Equity, at the Teachers College, Columbia University.


For event and registration information, click here.


Governor Corbett 

  • On October 27, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 389 (Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-36) which amends the Public School Code to expand and update the definition of "vocational agricultural education" (Act 83 of 2011.)
  • On November 9, the Governor signed Senate Bill 200introduced by Sen. Patrick Browne (R-16) which creates the "Safety in Youth Sports Act,"  and requires the PA Departments of Health and Education to develop and post on their internet websites guidelines and other relevant materials to inform and educate student athletes and their parents and coaches about the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury (Act 101 of 2011).


  • The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on special education funding and accountability on Tuesday, November 1. The hearing began with testimony by Senator Pat Browne (R-16), on Senate Bill 1115, which would amend the Public School Code to further provide for definitions and address reforms to the special education funding systemLike its counterpart (House Bill 704), SB 1115 would establish a formula for the distribution of monies for special education for each school districtin future years when the legislature decides to increase appropriations for this line item; additionally, different weights would be applied to student count and subsequent funding in order to reflect different costs for different levels of disability.

          The bill would also establish a Legislative Commission on Special Education and task the

          commission with developing certain components of a funding formula. The department would

          also be required to develop a competitive grant program for school districts to recognize

          effective practices that improve achievement for students with disabilities.  SB 1115 also

          addresses issues of special education oversight by PDE,including the submission of special

          education plans, amendments, and revisions by districts.


          Senator Browne was followed by Amy Morton, the Executive Deputy Secretary of the PA

          Department of Education; Baruch Kintisch, of the Education Law Center; Pam Klipa, of the

          Arc of Pennsylvania; Pedro Rivera, the School District of Lancaster Superintendent; and Dr.

          Edward Maritz, the Sto-Rox School District School Board Secretary.  Written testimony was

          also submitted by Laura Cowburn, Assistant to the Superintendent of the Columbia Borough

          School District, and advocate Edwinna McHale.

          For written testimonies as well as audio and video accounts of the hearing, visit

          Senator Jeffrey Piccola's website.

  • On November 3, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a public hearing to consider the impact of Fiscal Year 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act and other various topics at Millersville University, Millersville, PA.   The hearing was an opportunity to receive testimony from the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and presidents of the various institutions to discuss a range of topics related to their schools, including the impact of the state budget on funding issues.  For more information on the hearing, click here



During the week of October 31, the House unanimously approved two measures affecting how school districts conduct business:

  • House Bill 1901 (Rep. Garth Everett, R-84) would remove the provision of the Public School Code that requires school district to notify the Secretary of Education that an emergency has occurred and a bid has been selected under the emergency process prior to any work being completed.  HB 1901 would still require approval by the school board and the school district must inform the Secretary of Education that an emergency occurred and a bid has been selected under the emergency process, but may proceed with work before notification to PDE.  The bill was approved by a vote of 196-0 on October 31 and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
  • House Bill 244 (Rep. Seth Grove, R-196), which provides for approved reimbursable rental for certain leases and approved reimbursable sinking fund charges on indebtedness to include the cost of employing or contracting with a construction manager, clerk-of-the-works or other construction administrator to provide professional construction management services.  In addition the bill also defines "professional construction management services."   The bill was approved by a vote of 195-0 on November 1.

On November 3, the House Education Committee held a public hearing on teacher evaluations and House Bill 1980 (Rep. Ryan Aument, R-41),which would establish a statewide, comprehensive teacher evaluation system.  The Committee received testimony from Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis and Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Carolyn Dumaresq; Representative Ryan Aument (R-41); and representatives from the PA State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of Teachers-PA (AFT-PA).  Also testifying were representatives from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, PA Partnerships for Children, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP).


In the October 29 edition of the PA Bulletin, the following announcements were made:


PDE has scheduled two public hearings regarding seven cyber charter school applications that it received on October 3, 2011.  The hearings will be held on Tuesday, November 29 and December 1 in the Heritage Room B on the lobby level of 333 Market Street Harrisburg at 10:00 AM. The hearing pertains to applicants seeking to operate cyber charter schools beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.  For more information, click here.

PDE has announced the availability of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) 2011-2012 Request for Proposals (RFP) and the opening of the 2011-2012 21st CCLC eGrant online application for Cohort 6. The 21st Century program provides federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for children who attend high poverty and low performing schools to help them meet academic standards. The program also offers literacy and other educational services for the families of participating children.  For more information, click here.

Results of the 1st Annual Pennsylvania Education Issues Poll sponsored by EPLC will be released next week. EPLC has made a commitment to sponsor the Annual Poll of registered voters in Pennsylvania for the next several years. Voters were asked questions about how they value public education and several other issues including school funding and school choices.


The U.S. Department of Education has released information on the "2012 International Summit on the Teaching Profession" which will be held in New York City, March 14-15, 2012.  The 2012 Summit will convene education ministers, leaders of national teachers' organizations, and teacher leaders fromcountries with high-performing and rapidly improving educational systems. Countries and regions such as: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, the People's Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States will be represented.



  • On November 1, results of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at Grades 4 and 8, also known as the Nation's Report Card were released.  The NAEP informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States.  Specifically, the assessment measures students' knowledge and skills in mathematics and reading comprehension across two types of texts:  literary and informational.  Results are based on nationally representative samples of fourth-and eighth graders.

    Download the
    Findings in Brief, to read a summary of the results in reading and mathematics.
  • The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) Research and Policy Center has published recently "Raising Achievement in Underperforming Schools (October 2011)" which represents (through research, literature review and interviews) a compilation of what experts cite most often as the best way to improve school performance in underachieving schools.  Through the findings, the PSBA Center makes three recommendations for raising student achievement:  (1) Create specifically focused comprehensive school improvement teams (2) Create a clearinghouse of model improvement strategies; and (3) Ensure funding for early childhood and out-of-school time programs.


  • The Senate Education Committee will hold a meeting to consider the following bills: SB 1133, SB 1211, SB 1221, SB 1239, SB 1308 and SB 1322 on Tuesday, November 15 at 10:30 AM.
  • The House Education Committee will hold an informational meeting to discuss temporary special aid to school districts suffering loss of payment on Tuesday, November 15 at 10:00 AM.
  • The Senate Education Committee will hold an informational meeting on implementation and compliance with criminal history provisions in Act 24 of 2011 on Wednesday, November 16 at 1:00 PM.
  • The House Education Committee will hold a meeting to consider HB 1823, HB 1971, HB 1980 and SB 328 on Wednesday, November 16 at 9:00 AM.
  • The State Board of Education will meet on November 15-16 in Harrisburg.
  • The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee will hold a meeting in Harrisburg on November 16 at 10:00 AM to discuss Committee reorganization, budget approval, and hard helmets for girls' lacrosse.
For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on "Events Calendar".
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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 the Education Policy and Leadership Center is to encourage and support the development and implementation of effective state-level education policies to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.