Education Funding Fronts and Centers | News as Pennsylvania Budget Negotiations Continue




Governor Tom Wolf called for bipartisan reforms to the 24-year-old Charter School Act in Pennsylvania at Pottstown High School on Wednesday.



Harrisburg — Education funding is at the heart of the upcoming negotiations as time approaches for the July 1 state budget deadline.

The delay in submitting a Republican education bill in the State Senate to make it easier to use taxes to pay private school tuition is more realistic than the first mass proposal in budget negotiations. Not a suggestion. Said on Tuesday.

“I think these are more bargaining tactics,” said Joe Silesi, a former Spring Ford Schoolboard member and member of the House Board of Education, about the two bills: ..

“The governor does not support them, the Democrats do not intend to vote for them, and they have not yet been sent to the House of Representatives.” They will go through the House Board of Education.

The timing of the bill is important on the budget calendar, with Governor Wolf and fair-funded supporters traveling between states to drive a Ciresi-backed charter school funding reform bill.

In fact, another one of these rallies will be held Thursday at 3:00 pm at Perkiomen Valley High School.

The first bill passed by the Senate Board of Education along a partisan line was Senate Bill 1, Charter School Reform Bill:

  • Increase the transparency of the charter school.
  • It does not support the increasingly expensive charter school tuition funding method.
  • Removes charter school authorization from the school board and grants it to the governor’s one-time state authorization committee.
  • It then automatically escalate the amount that the company can donate to a private school for an equivalent state tax cut.

This was proposed by Senator Scott Martin (R-13), Senator of Lancaster County, who is also the chair of the Senate Board of Education.

Second bill, Senate Bill 733, Created an Educational Opportunity Account Scholarship (EOAS) program. Critics claim that this is an attempt to establish a school voucher system in Pennsylvania.

It is sponsored by the R-30 District, Republican Judy Ward of Blair County, Vice-Chair of the Senate Board of Education.

Proponents argue that scholarships help poor families with children who “couldn’t attend public school” and help find alternatives. According to a WHYY report, critics say of other qualities. The state is withholding tax revenues to fund private schools for wealthy middle-income families with high options.

WHYY report based on 2017-2018 data, I found “ambiguous evidence to support both claims”. The reporter examined 151 private schools that run their own tax credit voucher programs.

“Of these schools, 57-more than one-third-stated that they reported zero low-income students or could not determine the number of low-income students. Another 15 The school tells the state that it is less than 5% of its students. It was a low income, “the report said.

“Many of these schools are located in the wealthiest suburbs of the state, giving students access to some of Pennsylvania’s most acclaimed public schools,” they discovered.

Two local state senators, Katie Muse, D-44 District, and Bob Mensch, the R-24 District, all responded to emails on Tuesday afternoon asking for comments and voting intent on the two bills. Did not.

At least one bill of exchange provides one of the following: Legislative priorities required by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, A lobbying group that has voiced opposition to the types of reforms proposed in Ciresi’s bill, has been reiterated by Governor Tom Wolf. He visited a Pottstown High School rally on May 19th.

On Friday, Group CEO Lenny McAllister spoke with the Media News Group for an hour, saying the coalition opposes the center of Ciresi’s reform bill calling for the creation of state-wide tuition fees for cyber charter schools.

Currently, cyber charter school tuition is determined by the amount the sending district spends “per student”. McAllister argues that the money needs to follow students attending a cyber charter school. Cyber ​​school tuition is based on the actual cost of running the program.

Over the last five years, enrollment in charter schools across the state has increased by 10%, while payments to charter schools have increased by 47%. Part of this is due to the self-escalation effect of the charter school tuition itself. As tuition increases, the school district’s “expenditure per student” increases, and the next tuition payment increases.

However, the biggest factor in raising per-student spending has increased millions of dollars in each school district over the past few years as a result of the General Assembly’s decision that state retirement payments increase benefit payments. The result.Include in your members while reducing the donations required

This strategy, which is based on the assumption that the stock market will continue to rise indefinitely, failed brilliantly in 2009 when the housing bubble burst, and local school district taxpayers have made up for the loss ever since.

Severance pay, which has little to do with individual student direct education, is still part of the school district’s “cost per student” and part of charter school tuition, and its dramatic rise. It is one of the main driving forces.

Some charter schools are participating in the payment of these retirement costs, given the growing number of teachers forming unions. In fact, teachers at Pennsylvania’s largest PA cyber charter school recently voted to join the Pennsylvania Education Association teachers union.

However, McAllister confirmed that the school was negotiating a single state-wide salary schedule for teachers, despite opposition to state-wide tuition rates for the state’s largest charter school. ..



Ciresi is working on charter reform at Pottstown High School

At a rally at Pottstown High School on May 19, State Congressman Joe Ciresi (D-146) discusses a charter school reform bill.



Ultimately, the two bills embody the steps Republicans pursue in private budget negotiations with the Wolf administration, rather than the bills that Republicans expect to pass in the House of Representatives and be signed by the governor. Said Ciresi, which is more important in.

“It’s ridiculous. I have three weeks to put together a budget, but the House Board of Education hasn’t even planned a meeting,” he said.

Even more ridiculous is the tradition now that the state faces one of the largest budget surpluses in history and is taking the best possible steps to fully fund public education through the state’s fair funding. Ciresi said it was an attempt to withdraw more money from a typical public school district.

most Recent estimates indicate that the total surplus is over $ 3 billion. And Ciresi argues that it should be directed towards “finally providing adequate funding for public education in Pennsylvania.”

Five years ago, Pennsylvania adopted a “fair funding scheme.” This, like most other states, aims to give poorer school districts “fair race conditions” so that wealthier school districts can use the same types of resources.

However, the state has not poured all of its education funding this way, and only about 10% is distributed that way. After a fair funding rally in Harrisburg on Tuesday, Ciresi argued that a surplus would enable full fair funding.

According to a press release from Wolff’s office issued Tuesday, the outdated process for funding state schools does not take into account changes in current student numbers or current school district costs, 1992. Based on student admission.

This has forced school districts, which are growing across urban, suburban and rural communities, to make up for the lack of funding from the state by raising property taxes, increasing the burden on homeowners and businesses.

“Sure, it’s not just towns like Pottstown that need it, but other districts like Springford, Parkiomen Valley, and Mesakton are all officially underfunded,” he said.

“Here we have the opportunity to bring education funding to the 21st century, which means we have the opportunity to bring education funding to the 21st century,” says Wolff. “To do this, we need to manage basic education funding in all current states in a fair manner, and this adjustment should ensure that no school district loses $ 1 in state funding. there is.”

Education Funding Fronts and Centers | News as Pennsylvania Budget Negotiations Continue

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