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EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, June 18, 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 reconvened in voting session on Monday, June 18 at 1:00 PM.

2012-2013 PA BUDGET WATCH  

As the June 30 constitutional deadline for adoption of the state budget approaches, no formal action on the state budget is anticipated early this week. But important negotiations continue behind the scenes. It is largely Republicans negotiating with Republicans, as the minority Democrats in the House and Senate are left on the sidelines.


Republican leaders in the House and Senate are negotiating with each other to develop a proposal to take to the Governor. The "spend" figure that legislators seem to support is more than $200 million above the level Governor Corbett says he supports. On the other hand, the Governor has a legislative "wish list" that he wants the House and Senate to address. Much of the negotiating between legislative leaders and the Governor will focus on how much more is the Governor willing to agree to include in the budget, and in return what legislation will the House and Senate Republican leaders commit to passing.


At stake in these negotiations are appropriations for early education and care, K-12, higher education, and human services. Legislation affecting teacher and principal evaluations, charter schools, EITC scholarships or vouchers, and distressed school districts may also be in the negotiated deal that emerges soon.


On June 5, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives amended Senate Bill 1466, the General Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, to increase funding over the Senate's budget proposal for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program by $50 million to $100 million. The House shifted $24 million of the $50 million designated for distressed school districts (in the basic education funding line item) and used funds from several line items under the Department of Community and Economic Development to support the increase in ABGs. School districts use the ABGs to fund full day kindergarten programs. SB 1466 has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee, is awaiting further action, and is probably delayed until there is a budget deal between Republican leaders and the Governor.


In response to the House's action on SB 1466, the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign (PSFC) issued a statement urging state lawmakers to finalize a budget that supports Pennsylvania's students. Click here to read the PSFC letter.

On May 31, Governor Corbett signed into law House Bill 1610 (Rep. Vereb, R-150), which establishes the "Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act." The new law will 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. In addition, the act will require training for coaches to recognize the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and provide for the removal of student athletes from participating in a sporting event if they show symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to enact such guidelines.
  • On May 22, the Senate Education Committee reported as amended House Bill 1307 (Rep. Milne, R-167) by a vote of 7-3. The original version of HB 1307 would amend the Public School Code to limit the compensation of superintendents and assistant superintendents of school districts in financial distress; require the Auditor General to conduct audits of financially distressed school districts every four years; and require the PDE to provide annual reporting of intermediate unit funding, contracts and agreements. In addition, HB 1307 would allow students to wear military uniforms at high school graduation ceremonies. HB 1307 was amended substantially to remove certain provisions and insert others related to superintendent contracts, intermediate units and school district financial recovery by Majority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee Senator Jeffrey Piccola (R-15). The chairman's amendment mirrors mostly language contained in other Piccola proposals: SB 1450 (distressed school districts) and SB 1296 (superintendent contracts). Click here to read a comprehensive analysis of the Chairman's amendment (A10521) to HB 1307 prepared by the Republican Senate Education Committee staff. HB 1307 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

    The Senate Education Committee also reported House Bill 1901 (Rep. Everett, R-84) which would amend the Public School Code to allow a school district, in the event of an emergency, to advertise for bids to repair or replace a school plant (with the approval of the school board to make the necessary repairs or replacements) without obtaining the approval of the Secretary of Education. The bill was approved by a vote of 11-0. Later, HB 1901 was re-committed to the Senate Education Committee.
    to read a comprehensive analysis of the Chairman's amendment (A10521) to HB 1307 prepared by the Republican Senate Education Committee staff. HB 1307 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

  • On May 23, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1492 (Sen. Smucker, R-13) which would amend the Public School Code by creating a new Article XV-G entitled "Open Campus Initiatives." This new article would permit school districts to establish an open campus initiative through a cooperative agreement among participating school districts. SB 1492 was referred to the House Education Committee and is awaiting further consideration.
  • On June 5, the Senate Education Committee reported as committed House Bill 1343 (Rep. Baker, R-68) which would revise laws impacting the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) by allowing universities and employees to enter into agreements for economic development and profit. The bill would set guidelines for the relationship between State system universities and private nonprofit corporations. HB 1343 also would allow PASSHE universities to offer applied doctorates under certain provisions. Finally, HB 1343 bill would repeal inconsistent and outdated statutes related to PASSHE. HB 1343 has been re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee and awaits further action. 
  • On May 23, the House Education Committee unanimously approved 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 review of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. SB 1406 awaits further action by the House.
  • On June 4, the House Education Committee approved unanimously the following bills: 
    • Senate Bill 1133 (Sen. White R-41) would amend the Public School Code to allow institutions within the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to offer doctoral degrees under certain conditions.

    • Senate Bill 1322 (Sen. Smucker R-13) would amend the Public School Code to allow the PASSHE to enter into an agreement with any entity for the cooperative use of supplies and services. All purchases and agreements made under this new subsection must be the result of a system of competitive bidding and in accordance with the laws of this Commonwealth.
    • Senate Bill 2316 (Rep. Rock R-90) would amend the Public School Code to provide for intergovernmental agreements for school security and safety. Under this bill, the board of school directors may share costs with municipalities and counties for expenses such as salaries and benefits for school resource officers and probation officers. Such officers are not required to be school district employees.

                    SB 1133, SB 1322, and SB 2316 await further action.

  • On June 11, the House Finance Committee met to consider House Bill 1776 (Rep. Cox, R-129), a proposal to eliminate school property taxes and replace those taxes with funding from a single state source; however, the Committee voted 13-11 to table the bill. HB 1776 had been the subject of two public hearings held recently (May 21 and June 6) by the House Finance Committee. Click here to view video accounts of the hearings made available via the House Republican Caucus.
  • On June 12, the House Education Committee reported the following legislation:
    • House Bill 1078 (Rep. Davidson D-164) would amend the Public School Code of 1949 further providing for the Office for Safe Schools. HB 1078 would develop hotlines for students, teachers, school employees, and community members to anonymously report occurring or expected violence and/or possession of weapons on school property. HB 1078 has been re-committed to the Rules Committee.

    • Senate Bill 1308 (Sen. Tomlinson R-6) would establish a free-standing act entitled the "State System of Higher Education Intellectual Property Act." It would authorize State owned-universities and its employees to enter into agreements that benefit the universities and employees by allowing State-owned universities to develop and market intellectual property owned or created by university employees. Agreements entered into under this act must be reviewed and approved in accordance with the form and legality reviews of the act of October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. SB 1308 is awaiting further consideration by the House.
    • House Resolution 660 (Rep. Tallman R-193) would encourage the Governor to request that the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and all Commonwealth agencies with guidelines, regulations, licenses, certifications or criteria that require a high school diploma deem a postsecondary degree from an accredited institution of higher education as satisfying the requirement. HR 660 is awaiting further consideration.
    • House Bill 2317 (Rep. Rock R-90) would amend the Public School Code to allow for a homeschool evaluator's certification stating that an appropriate education is occurring be provided to the superintendent of the public school district of residence by June 30 of each year. This bill would eliminate the need for yearly formal approval of academic completion by a public school superintendent within a homeschooler's district of residence. Under this proposal, a high school diploma awarded by the supervisor of a home education program would be considered as according all the rights and privileges of a high school diploma under the laws of this Commonwealth. The legislation also contains provisions that would allow a superintendent, who has reasonable belief that an appropriate education may not be occurring in the home education program, to require that an evaluation be conducted. The bill was amended to include language that states nothing in the new section shall be construed to affect federal or state law relating to special education for students with disabilities in home education programs. HB 2317 has been recommitted to the Rules Committee.

On June 1, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue reported that Pennsylvania collected $1.9 billion in General Fund revenue in May which was $43.8 million (2.3 percent) below the Governor's official estimate. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $24.9 billion, which is $332.9 million, or 1.3 percent, below estimate. However, compared to this point in the last fiscal year, General Fund revenues are 2.4 percent higher. For more information, visit www.revenue.state.pa.us

  • On May 23, the Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis announced that more than $36.1 million in federal funding has been awarded to 56 local education agencies to support literacy programs for students from birth through grade twelve. The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant, is a five year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Pennsylvania was one of six states to receive funding. Click here for more information and to view the list of grantees by county and the amount awarded for year one.
  • June 11-15 is Summer Food Awareness Week and the PDE would like to remind families of the services provided by the Summer Food Service Program. The program, with more than 2,000 sites statewide, will be available to provide children 18 years of age or younger with free meals. After June 15, site locations and hours will be available online at www.pasummermeals.com. Last summer, more than 5 million meals and snacks were served to children from low-income families at more than 2,000 sites across the state. Non-profit organizations interested in becoming a sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program may contact PDE's Division of Food and Nutrition at 1-800-331-0129 or via email at [email protected]. 


  • On May 28, the Board of Directors of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) announced that Executive Director, Shelly Yanoff, will be leaving PCCY after 25 years of service to the organization. Ms. Yanoff has played a major role in expanding the scope and quality of services to children and their families not only in the Philadelphia region but statewide. To read more about Ms. Yanoff's contributions to children and their families, click here.
  • Representative Tony Payton (D-179) has introduced House Bill 2389, which would establish a statewide academic scholarship program to be known as the "Reliable Educational Assistance for College Hopefuls Scholarship for Arts and Culture." The purpose HB 2389 is to reward educational excellence and provide an incentive to Pennsylvania students to pursue higher education with an emphasis on arts and culture within the Commonwealth. Under HB 2389, the scholarship program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). HB 2389 was referred to the House Education Committee on May 16.
On May 23, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) unanimously approved a summary report of the "Financial and Academic Status of the Duquesne School District" pursuant to
Act 45 of 2007. To read the LBFC findings, click here.


  • The House Education Committee will hold a meeting to consider Senate Bill 1115 (Sen. Browne, R-), a proposal to establish a special education funding formula and related system of accountability, on Monday, June 18 at 11:00 AM

  • The Americans for the Arts will co-host a webinar "Using the Arts to Promote Diversity and Inclusion" on June 19 at 1:00 PM. This webcast will be moderated by Margie Reese,

    Board Member, Americans for the Arts, and feature speakers from Aetna and Travelers who will provide examples of how using the arts as a new tool brings their diversity and inclusion programs to new levels. To register, please contact Timarie at [email protected] 


  • The Senate Committees on Education and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness will hold a joint hearing to discuss military-friendly educational programs and policies on Wednesday, June 20 at 11:00 AM.
  • The Independent Regulatory Review Commission will meet to consider final-omitted regulations #6-325 (IRRC #2928) entitled "Safe Schools as submitted by the State Board of Education on Thursday, June 21 at 10:00 AM. Click here for more details.
  • The Governor's Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education will meet on Thursday, June 28 (2 PM to 4:30 PM) in Wilkes-Barre (Genetti's Wilkes-Barre, 77 East Market Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA). Registration required.
  • The next meeting of the State Board of Education is scheduled for July 11-12 in Harrisburg.  

Save the Date

  • The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) will hold its 58th Annual Conference and Exhibits March 19 - 22, 2013 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh.
  • EPLC's Arts and Education Symposium will be held on Thursday, October 11 in Harrisburg.
  • EPLC's Annual Education Finance Symposium will be held on Friday, November 16 in Harrisburg.
For information on upcoming events, please visit www.eplc.org and click on "Events Calendar".

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.

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