EPLC Masthead
EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, May 7, 2012

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/



The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate have reconvened in voting session on Monday, May 7 at 1:00 PM. 




On April 30, the Senate unanimously passed the following bills:


  Senate Bill 1296 (Sen. Piccola, R-15)wouldamend the Public School Code regarding superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts for all school districts in Pennsylvania, including school districts of the first class.  The bill would require all initial superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts be for a period of not more than three years (but grandfathering existing superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts).  SB 1296 would set new requirements for the content of the contracts and subjects them to the Right-to-Know Law.  Contracts shall include expected duties, the terms of employment, buy-out, and termination provisions, and may include performance criteria as agreed-to by the school board and the superintendent or assistant superintendent.  SB 1296 would also limit the amount of severance compensation a superintendent or assistant superintendent is entitled to if terminated prior to the expiration of the contract. 


  Senate Bill 157 (Sen. Fontana, D-42) would establish a task force on homeless education within the Department of Education and would require it to study the homeless children population and their educational needs.  Under SB 157, the taskforce would be charged with making a report that includesfindings and recommendations to the General Assembly within one year of its initial meeting and periodic reports every three years. 


SB 1296 and SB 157 have been referred to the House Education Committee and await further consideration.


On April 30, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the following bill:


  Senate Bill 1225 (Sen. Pileggi, R-9) would codify the Library Code in consolidated statute form to improve the readability and reconcile conflicts between the Library Code and regulations that have been issued under it.  SB 1225 includes language that would set forth the manner in which state aid for libraries would be allocated.  In addition, the legislation would require the PDE to appoint a state librarian who is to serve as the Deputy Secretary for Libraries; increase the number of professional librarians on the Advisory Council on Library Development from three to six and reduces the number of lay people from six to three; require the State Librarian to establish service standards relevant to emerging technologies; and allow all libraries to make applications to waive standards when state funding is reduced.  To read the complete fiscal analysis prepared by the Senate Appropriations staff, click here.  SB 1225 awaits further action by the full Senate.


On May 1, the Senate Education Committee unanimously reported the following legislation:


  Senate Bill 1303 (Sen. Williams, D-8) would amend the Public School Code to allow for adjustment of the rate of taxes levied on real estate in a school district of the first class.  The bill was amended in Committee to provide flexibility with regard to the maintenance of effort provision of Act 46 of 1998 and statutorily required property tax millage rates. 


  Senate Bill 1381 (Sen. Williams, D-8) would amend the Public School Code by adding a new section relating to employment history review.  SB 1381 would require an applicant for employment at a school entity to provide the school with a list of all prior employers and written permission for the school to contact the employers.  The applicant must disclose whether or not he/she was the subject of any investigation by an employer or child protective services; has resigned or otherwise separated from employment while the subject of an investigation; has been disciplined, discharged or ask to resign from employment due to an investigation; or has ever had a license or certificate revoked or suspended.  SB 1381 would apply to all school employees that have direct contact with children. 


  Senate Bill 1459 (Sen. Smucker, R-13) would amend the "Professional Educator Discipline Act," by expanding the jurisdiction of the Professional Standards and Practices Commission (PSPC) beyond educators holding certificates in the public schools to include educators holding Private Academic School certification and educators working for independent contractors providing direct educational services to a school entity.  In addition, the bill also expands the bases for discipline to include founded and indicated reports of child abuse and founded and indicated reports for a school employee and sexual misconduct, which is broadly defined to include "grooming" behaviors.  SB 1459 would eliminate the current one year statute of limitations for filing misconduct complaints.  The bill also expands mandatory reporting to PDE by chief school administrators or chief executive officers of school entities to include reporting of all educators who resign following allegations of misconduct.  SB 1459 would prohibit school entities from entering into confidential settlement agreements that would interfere with a school district's mandatory reporting obligation. 


  Senate Bill 1492 (Sen. Smucker, R-13) would amend the Public School Code by creating a new Article XV-G entitled "Open Campus Initiatives," which would permit school districts to establish an open campus initiative through a cooperative agreement among participating school districts. 


  House Bill 1610 (Rep. Vereb, R-150) would establish a freestanding act to be known as "Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act," which would require the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health to develop guidelines and other relevant materials to educate students, parents and coaches about the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest, including the risks associated with continuing play or practice when experiencing those symptoms.  HB 1610 would require training for coaches to recognize the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and provides for penalties for violation of the act.  In addition, the bill would provide for the removal of student athletes from participating in a sporting event if they show symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.


SB 1303, SB 1381, SB 1459, SB 1492, and HB 1610 await further action by the full Senate.


On May 2, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1406 (Sen. Folmer, R-48) which would

amend Title 24 (Education) by adding a new section to allow private nonprofit colleges and

universities that are accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and have operated continuously in the Commonwealth for the immediately preceding ten years to add programs, majors and degrees without prior reviews of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. SB 1406 is awaiting furthur action in the House.

House of Representatives


On May 2, the House by a vote of 181-1, concurred in Senate amendments toHouse Bill 823 (Rep. Scavello, R-176) which amends the "Municipalities Planning Code" to require municipalities each month to notify in writing the superintendent of a school district in which a development plan received final approval by the municipality in the preceding month. The notice must include, but is not limited to, the location of the development, the number and types of units to be built, and the expected construction schedule.  The bill also provides for wastewater processing cooperative planning.  The bill has been approved previously in both the House and the Senate.  It awaits further action by the Governor.


According to the most recent (May 1) collections
report from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania collected $3.4 billion in General Fund revenue in April, which was $98.9 million  (3 percent), more than anticipated.  Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $23 billion, which is $288.4 million, or 1.2 percent, below estimate. 


The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office  (IFO) estimates the state will have $400 million more during the current fiscal year than Gov. Tom Corbett's administration estimated in February.  The IFO projects an additional $400 million in revenue for the current year, and an additional $400 million, in revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year.  It is estimated that this will give the Legislature an additional $800 million available for the next budget to help forestall some of the Governor's proposed cuts to education and other services.  The Corbett administration based its 2012-13 proposed state budget on the Commonwealth having a revenue shortfall, when the current fiscal year ends on June 30, of $719 million.  In February, the IFO projected the state would end the fiscal year with a revenue shortfall of about $500 million.  Now they have cut that estimate by another $200 million, to just over $300 million.


  • David John has left his post as Executive Director of the Joint State Government Commission and will now serve as the Executive Director the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs.
  • The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, in conjunction with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Advancement Project, and Arnold & Porter LLP, has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court challenging the Photo ID bill recently signed into law in Pennsylvania.  For more information on the lawsuit, visit  www.pilcop.org


  • The Senate Education Committee and the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a joint public hearing on Educational Opportunities for Veterans at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg on Wednesday, May 8 at 9:30 AM.
  • The next meeting of the State Board of Education in scheduled for May 9-10 in Harrisburg to consider proposed revisions to Chapter 4 (Academic Standards and Assessment).  Click here to view the agenda.
  • The Center for Safe Schools will be hosting "Keeping Our Children Safe: Strategies for Schools and Communities Safe Schools," conference at the Hilton Harrisburg May 8-9, 2012.  Details and registration materials can be found on the Center for Safe School's website at www.safeschools.info
  •  The House Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 1776 (Property Tax Independence Act) in Harrisburg on Monday, May 21, at 10:00 AM.  For more information, contact the office of Representative Kerry Benninghoff, Majority Chairman of the Finance Committee at (717) 783-1918.
  •  Mark Your Calendars!  Education Voters PA will be holding a "Call to Action for Public Education Day" on May 23.  For more information on how you can participate, please visit www.educationvoterspa.org.
  • The Media Area NAACP and CU Keystone Honors Program will host 2012 Conference on the State of Education in Pennsylvania "Calling for a Trauma Informed Education System" at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (Marcus Foster Student Union, 2nd floor) on Friday, May 25 from 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM.  For agenda and registration details, 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.