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EPLC Education Notebook

Wednesday, December 21, 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/



Budget Secretary - Mid-Year Budget Report


On December 20, Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby gave a mid-year budget briefing and said he anticipates at least a $500 million shortfall in year-end (June 30) General Fund revenues.  He also said that Governor Corbett will likely announce a budgetary freeze before the end of the year.  The Corbett administration is preparing for a tougher budget year than 2011-2012. Zogby noted that he does not anticipate having any revenue options available and that the budgetary gap will be addressed with additional cuts.  To read the PA Office of the Budget press release, click here.


House and Senate Democratic leaders quickly reacted to the administration's mid-year budget report with their own news conference.  House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Representative Joe Markosek (D-25) remarked that while it may sound good to say there is no increase in state taxes, the reality is that this past budget led to severe cuts in public schools, universities, Medicaid and money aimed at providing assistance to at-risk youth.  Minority Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Vincent Hughes (D-7) echoed similar concerns stating that the $1.1 billion cut in education spending this year was not necessary since there was more than $500 million surplus left unused.  He pointed out that failure to spend that surplus resulted in a loss of 14,000 public school jobs and another 1,000 in the higher education sector.  Democratic leaders do not believe that the economic picture is nearly as bad as Secretary Zogby paints it and that the administration's projections are a "scare tactic" to gather support for an additional three-quarter of a billion dollar cut from the upcoming 2012-2013 budget.  To view the press conference, click here.


Governor Corbett is scheduled to deliver his Budget Message for 2012-2013 on Tuesday, February 7.





Last week, Representative James Roebuck (D-188), Democratic Chairman of the House Education Committee, announced that he will introduce legislation to establish the "All Students Can Succeed Program" as an alternative to tuition voucher legislation.  The program would provide assistance to all students in Pennsylvania's lowest-performing schools through targeted improvements rather than giving tuition vouchers to less than 10% percent of the children in those schools who may or may not be accepted into a school of their choice.  


The All Students Can Succeed Program would adopt a comprehensive approach to improving academic achievement in the targeted schools through new education strategies, policies and educational supports.  The bill would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to establish a clearinghouse of effective educational strategies, models and programs to be utilized by these low-achieving schools to improve student performance.  Also, Roebuck plans to introduce a companion bill that would amend the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to add a new $10 million tax credit for businesses that contribute to an Educational Improvement Organization with an All Students Can Succeed Program for a low-achieving school.


To view a summary of the proposed legislation and a tentative list of schools that would be affected by the All Students Can Succeed Program, click here.


On December 20, the House approved Senate Bill 1249, the plan for Congressional re-districting, by a vote of 136-61.  The bill awaits the signature of the Governor. Earlier this month, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission approved the reapportionment plan for the state's 203 House districts and 50 Senate Districts.  To learn more about the newly re-drawn Congressional and state legislative districts, please see the "Announcements' section of the notebook below.



New Pennsylvania legislative district reapportionment maps (federal and state), related recent developments, and historical information are available at http://www.redistricting.state.pa.us/Maps/index.cfm.   In addition, for citizens who would like to view the boundaries of their Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate districts but do not know the number of the districts where they reside, there's a link to a tool on the General Assembly's web site where districts can be determined by home address.  At the right side of the page, click on the "I don't know who my legislator is or what district I reside in" link under the question mark to be directed to this resource.


The first day for candidates to circulate and file nomination petitions for the 2012 Pennsylvania elections is Tuesday, January 24, 2012.



On December 14, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released a report entitled "The Need for Public Community College Programs in Rural Pennsylvania" pursuant to Senate Resolution 147 (Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-25) which directed the LBFC to examine Pennsylvania's public community college programs in rural counties .  The LBFC report contained the following recommendations to the General Assembly:


* Establish a public community college in rural counties through creation of a state community college affiliated with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), with multiple campuses or learning centers based in designated regions, with a separate appropriation and student tuition linked to that of existing colleges.

* Allow a defined period when rural counties may choose to join with or form a new independent community college.

* Promote such regional college formation by permitting new local sponsor contributions to be related to the actual value of existing sponsors' contribution per local FTEs, and permitting use of less stringent student criteria when feasible.

* If a state community college is not established, require the student surcharge from areas without a college to be based on the actual local contribution. 

The proposed "state community college" would be funded through a separate appropriation to PASSHE and would be in addition to the existing 14 community colleges throughout the state.

In a news release from the Pennsylvania Commission of Community Colleges, Executive Director Diane Bosak said "Creating another state supported entity when these services are already being provided through our current community college structure seems redundant, especially at a time of drastic funding cuts for existing educational institutions."   She said "The state must respond to the need for increased workforce training and higher education in the most cost effective manner possible. They can do this by continuing to support and expand the already existing community college structure in which the commonwealth has already made strategic investments."


A new report from the National Center for Postsecondary Research at Teachers College, Columbia University shows that dual enrollment has strong positive effects on college enrollment and completion, but how much effect depends on the content of the course and where it takes place.   One study that tracked Florida high school seniors during the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years found that those in dual-enrollment courses taken on college campuses were 12 percent more likely to go to college and 7 percent more likely to earn a bachelor's degree than their counterparts who did not participate.  Students who took dual-enrollment classes at the high school showed no statistically significant gains.  To read the full report, click here



The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, January 17 at 1:00 PM.


The State Board of Education will meet January 11-12 in Harrisburg. To view the agenda for the State Board meeting, click here.


Save the Date!


EPLC's next PA School Choices Forum will be held in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, February 1.  Details will be available after January 2.


The Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference will be held February 12-15, 2012 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey.  For more details, click here.


The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) will hold its 57th Annual Conference and Exhibits March 6-9, 2012 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention

Center in Hershey.  For more information, click here.

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.