Press Releases

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:59 PM

Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) and House Education Minority Chairman Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia) delivered 15,000 statements and petitions to the Governor's Office to request restoration of public school funding in the state budget. The lawmakers met with Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis outside the Governor's Reception Room, and the Secretary received the petitions on behalf of Gov. Corbett.

The impromptu meeting focused on cuts to public education programs; Rep. Pashinski expressed the necessity of those programs for students, as it aids them to achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). "To eliminate those programs, and expect the public schools to perform is just incomprehensible -- it doesn't work," he said.

Rep. Pashinski called for $300 million to help school districts pay for basic public education and their programs.

Sec. Tomalis noted that the "biggest cuts" to public education occurred in 2008-09, and that the prior administration used federal stimulus money to augment that loss. Given that the federal stimulus money has now diminished, the Secretary stated that Governor's administration has been increasing state funding for public education over the 2008-09 level. "There are more state dollars going into public education than ever before," Sec. Tomalis said.

Sec. Tomalis stated that the Department of Education's budget has increased. "The taxpayer dollars that have gone into public education has gone from $13 billion a year to $26 a year," he said.

The debate touched on other avenues to improve funding to the 500 struggling school districts in the Commonwealth. Rep. Pashinski acknowledged that cyber charter schools are being overpaid by $100 million to an estimated $300 million. 

Sec. Tomalis noted that every child has different needs, and some of those needs are met at charter schools. He stated that as charter schools are considered to be the alternate to public schools, it remains in the public school code as public schools.

Source: myPLS, The Eye Opener, June 26, 2012.

 

 
Monday, June 25, 2012 2:21 PM

Gov. Tom Corbett and state lawmakers have reached the framework of a state budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Click here for the Patriot-News article.

Source: Patriot-News and pennlive.com, June 23, 2012.

 
Friday, June 22, 2012 12:34 PM

Join your colleagues on the PA Principals Association Forum (online bulletin board). The PA Principals Association Forum is for MEMBERS ONLY, so you must log in to our web site to participate. Go to Contact Us on the main menu and hover over it so the other tabs appear. Click on the tab named "Forum."? If you haven't logged on to the site, you will once again be prompted to do so.

Upon reaching the Forum page, you will notice that there are two separate threads: Member Introductions (Introduce yourself to the other members); and General Discussion. To participate, click on one of the threads. You can add a new topic or add a comment under a previous topic. If you have any questions, please contact the forum administrator at sherit@paprincipals.org.

 
Thursday, June 21, 2012 1:39 PM

Auditor General Jack Wagner held a press conference [June 20] to discuss the finding of a special report that found Pennsylvania could save $365 million by adopting separate charter and cyber charter school funding formulas.

"Pennsylvania taxpayers are paying too much, they are paying more than any taxpayer in the country in terms of educating a child at a charter and cyber charter school," General Wagner stated. "They are not paying the true cost of what it costs to educate that child. Keep in mind we have 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, on top of that we have 165 charter and cyber charter schools. There is a set amount that it costs to educate a child at each of those 500 school districts across Pennsylvania, that's 500 different numbers in terms of the approximate cost of educating a child. The amount of money that follows the student to the charter school or cyber charter school is based on the average cost of educating the child at the 500 school districts. If you have a cyber charter school that attracts students from 400 school districts, you have 400 different numbers in terms of the amount of money they are receiving to educate the child. Not the true cost of educating the child, the cost of educating the child at the sending school district. That is a flawed funding formula in Pennsylvania. That must be corrected. There is no common sense behind what the taxpayer is paying to educate the child."

General Wagner explained that the department compared the cost of educating a student at a charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania to other states. "Pennsylvania is the highest at a cost of $12,657,"? he stated. "We can save in excess of $300 million a year in annual sustainable savings, something's that seldom talked about in government."

Auditor General Wagner highlighted the following from the report:

  • Pennsylvania spends about $3,000 more per student to educate a child in a brick-and-mortar charter school and about $3,500 more per student to educate a child in a cyber charter school compared to the national average, which adds up to $315 million in annual savings;
  • Pennsylvania could save $50 million a year by eliminating a loophole which allows a "double dipping" of retirement benefit payments;
  • The Department of Education should take a leadership role and set charter and cyber charter school funding rates like those in Arizona and Michigan.

"Even though these are public schools, there are management companies involved in many of these schools and there is a profit making venture associated with those management companies,"? General Wagner stated. "In addition, what we have found in some situation is the reserves that they have are somewhat higher. We also found out that many of the schools are advertising and competing with each so it is very difficult to track each dollar that is being spent but we do know what they are receiving and what they are spending. More importantly, we know what the national average is and in both of these situations Pennsylvania taxpayers are paying too much and local taxpayers are paying too much. At $6,500 versus what we're spending at $10,145, the savings in Pennsylvania in cyber charter schools is $105 million."

General Wagner urged the legislature and the administration to take action on the report. "The time is right for the General Assembly, the governor and the Secretary of Education to once and for all take a leadership position on behalf of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania,"? he stated. "There isn't a more important time to do this than now. We need more revenue in state government for a whole variety of things. We have school districts cutting teachers, we have districts talking about the elimination of kindergarten, early childhood education and a number of classes. They simply don't have the revenue to fund it. Here is a bundle of revenue, $365 million that can be saved."

Source: myPLS The Eye Opener, June 21, 2012.

 
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 2:51 PM
The PA Principals Association is seeking principals and educators to write for the September 2012 edition of its award-winning Pennsylvania Administrator magazine. This issue does not have a specific theme, so any education topics will be accepted for review by the Editorial Review Board.

The deadline for submitting articles is July 6, 2012.

Articles should be no longer than 1,500 words. Articles must be submitted via e-mail as a Microsoft Word document. A biographical sketch and a photograph of the author(s) (saved as a JPEG or a TIFF file) must accompany all articles. E-mail articles to sherit@paprincipals.org.
 
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:57 PM

Rep. Warren Kampf (R-Chester) held a press conference yesterday to introduce two bills that would require future state and school district employees to enroll in an employee-directed defined contribution plan and allow current employees to voluntarily enroll in the reform program. HB 2453 addresses state employees, while HB 2454 addresses school district employees. "For all state future employees, except the State Police, and for all future school district employees, these bills will create a mandatory defined contribution plan which is like a 401K plan in the private sector,"? Rep. Kampf stated. To read the full article, click here.

Source: myPLS, The Eye Opener, June 13, 2012.

 
Thursday, June 7, 2012 7:23 PM
This week, the House of Representatives amended SB 1466, the budget bill sent over by the Senate last month. The bill remains in the House for further consideration. As passed by the Senate, SB 1466 raises the budget from the $27.15 billion as proposed by Gov. Corbett to $27.65 billion. The Senate plan restored about $500 million in cuts to higher and basic education and social services. The bill also does not include the Student Achievement Education Block Grant (SAEBG) proposed by the governor for combined distribution of funding for the basic subsidy, pupil transportation and school employees Social Security. It does include $50 million in supplemental payments for distressed school districts, as well as $50 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program.

On Tuesday, June 5, the House adopted nine amendments; one of them provided for an additional $50 million for the ABG, bringing the total to $100 million for the program. Offsets in other areas of the budget included subtracting $24 million from the basic subsidy, bringing the total subsidy amount from $5,404,629,000 to $5,380,629,000.   

Source: PSBA Legislative Report, June 7, 2012.
 
Monday, June 4, 2012 2:00 PM

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis is considering whether his department should file for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind legislation that in its current form calls for all students to test proficient in math and reading on annual achievement exams by 2014. If Pennsylvania does not apply and receive approval for a waiver, the state will be held to the current requirements of the NCLB, which calls for 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Statewide, in 2011, 94 percent of the 500 districts made progress targets, but only 46.9 percent made it based on student performance. Click here to read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article.

Source: myPLS, The Eye Opener, June 4, 2012.

 
Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:51 PM

For anyone who was unable to participate in one of the sessions entitled "Understanding AYP 2012,"? presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of Assessment and Accountability, a session was recorded and can be found at accessed at:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/590418098.

The handouts to accompany this presentation can be accessed at: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/2012_ayp/20803.

 
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