As part of the 2011-12 state budget, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law House Bill 1352, which makes several changes to the Public School Code of 1949. Below is an overview of the changes made by Act 24 of 2011.
Please note that this is a summary and further guidance on the implementation of these provisions will be forthcoming.
- Suspends the state’s continuing professional development requirements for educators and school and system leaders until June 30, 2013; however, this provision would not apply to a new superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, IU executive director, IU assistant executive director and director of a Career and Technology Center, who are still required to complete a leadership development program aligned with Pennsylvania’s school leadership standards. Those not required to complete a leadership development program during this two-year period can still participate in Act 45 and Act 48 activities, which will count toward their professional development requirements. For those who opted not to take courses during the two-year suspension of the requirements, they will have the same number of hours of continuing professional education and the same amount of time to complete those requirements as they did at the time the suspension took effect. For additional information, contact Dave Volkman at email@example.com.
- Adds several offenses that would bar or suspend an individual’s eligibility for school employment and creates standardized reporting requirements for current or prospective school employees to provide notification of arrests or convictions for certain offenses. For more details, contact Steve Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Allows individuals who hold a graduate degree in business, management or finance and have at least four years of relevant work experience to serve as a superintendent or assistant superintendent. Individuals with this background must successfully complete the state’s professional development program for school leaders (PIL). For more details, contact Dave Volkman at email@example.com.
- Provides alternative certification pathways for second-career professionals to become teachers and school administrators through residency programs. Contact Terry Barnaby at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Allows individuals who hold a teaching certificate issued by another state to be eligible for comparable Pennsylvania certification if the candidate holds a bachelor’s degree, has at least two years of successful classroom experience, demonstrates subject matter competency in the applicable area, and satisfies statutory requirements related to their criminal background check, medical history and being of good moral character. For more information, contact Terry Barnaby at email@example.com.
- Provides an alternate route to teaching for individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree, pass relevant subject exams and complete an approved program in education within three years of issuance of the certificate. In addition, candidates for administrative certificate of vocational director certification must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college school, three years of relevant professional experience and must be of good moral character. Candidates must complete a graduate program in education or within two years of employment in a school or system leader position provide evidence that they successfully completed the state’s professional development program for school leaders (PIL). The Secretary of Education is authorized to evaluate and approve all post-baccalaureate certification programs and qualified providers of such programs, which may include providers other than institutions of higher education; and to develop guidelines for the approval of flexible post-baccalaureate instructional certification programs. For more information, contact Terry Barnaby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Provides for an additional $100 million in Accountability Block Grants in the 2010-11 fiscal year to be distributed by formula and expendable on ABG eligible expenses in either the 2010-11 or 2011-12 fiscal years. For additional information, contact Bob Staver at email@example.com.
- Allows school districts to reopen their 2011-12 budgets to reflect state and federal appropriations for fiscal years 2010-11 and 2011-12. Contact Benjamin Hanft at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
- Provides for payments for Basic Education Funding, Special Education Funding, community colleges, libraries, intermediate units, pupil transportation and remaining Accountability Block Grant funds. For additional information, contact Benjamin Hanft at email@example.com.
- Exempts school districts from securing PDE approval for construction projects, plans and specifications and leases when state reimbursement is not requested. For additional information, contact Mike Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Removes provisions requiring the Commonwealth to reimburse charter and cyber charter schools for the employer’s share of Social Security payments. Contact Benjamin Hanft at email@example.com for additional information.
- Requires public reporting of Intermediate Units’ (IU) annual financial reports and detailed information associated with certain IU financial transactions in excess of $50,000. For more information, contact Jeannine Weiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Limits preK-12 data collection for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years to only that which is necessary to: comply with federal mandates; populate the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System; meet DPW requirements with regard to supervising and licensing or registering a child care provider; satisfy requirements for criminal background checks and state payments or reimbursements; and meet school safety reporting requirements. Contact Dave Ream at email@example.com for more information.
- Eliminates the requirement for a school entity to maintain a dual enrollment committee. Contact Bob Staver at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Permits school districts to admit beginners after the first two weeks of the school year. Contact Steve Fisher at email@example.com for more information.
- Requires school districts to maintain certified safety committees. Districts that do not form such a committee would lose a portion of their state subsidy equal to the discount the district would have received under the Workers’ Compensation Act. This would not apply to districts that self-insure. (Continuation of prior year provision.) For additional information contact Mike Kozup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Clarifies that school safety reports must be filed with PDE on an annual basis. (This was a clarification; previous language referenced semiannual reporting.) For additional information, contact Mike Kozup at email@example.com.
- Re-establishes the Safe Schools Advocate for school districts of the first class and moves the office from PDE to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Contact Mike Kozup at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Allows post-secondary students to choose not to be individually identified in federally required data submissions. For more information, contact Wil DelPilar at email@example.com.
- Moves to the school code the transfer and articulation provisions previously enacted in the fiscal code. These require state-owned universities to accept associates degrees for transfer with full junior standing, and requires state-related universities to identify at least 30 general education credits that can seamlessly transfer for credit from institutions participating in the state’s Transfer and Articulation system. (Continuation of prior year provision.) Contact Julie Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Changes to the School Code
- Requires the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to establish a policy by August 8, 2011, that allows students who attended a school entity that abolished its athletic program in whole or part to participate in another district’s athletic program. For more details, contact John Tommasini at email@example.com.
- Codifies language previously enacted regarding employment pools for former employees of the Scranton School for the Deaf and the Scotland School for Veterans Children. (Continuation of prior year provision.) Contact Diana Hershey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In a separate action, Governor Corbett signed into law Senate Bill 330, Act 25 of 2011. This eliminated most referendum exceptions that were contained in Special Session Act 1 of 2006 allowing a school board to increase taxes above the statutory index without seeking voter approval. As a general matter, the referendum exceptions maintained are costs to pay interest and principal for certain debt already incurred and interest and principal related to electoral debt, special education costs that exceed the index and pension costs that exceed a certain index. This law also allows small businesses to pay school property taxes in installments. For more information, contact Benjamin Hanft at email@example.com.