Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials
Smart Business + Informed Decisions = Great Schools
Monday, January 25, 2010
In this report…
· Budget Hearings Begin Thursday
· Mid-Year Budget Cuts Made to Balance Budget
· PASBO to Testify at Public Pension Hearing
· Virtual High School Recommendations Released
· Science in Motion Bill Up for Committee Vote
· Education Empowerment Proposal Reviewed
Budget Hearings Begin Thursday
The Legislature returns to session this week from a two week recess. There are no bills of interest up for vote in the House. A bill of interest on which the Senate could act includes SB 1086 (Dinniman), legislation which would eliminate the partisan primary election for the election of school directors beginning in 2011.
Budget hearings begin Thursday, two weeks before the Governor is scheduled to present his budget proposal on Tuesday, February 9th at 10AM to a joint session of the House and Senate. Below is a schedule of budget hearings of interest to PASBO members. The Governor’s budget address and all hearings will be streamed live at http://pcntv.com.
House Appropriations Committee
Tuesday, February 3: PSERS/SERS (9AM)
Wednesday, February 23: Department of Education (9AM)
Senate Appropriations Committee
Thursday, February 18: PSERS/SERS (10AM)
Tuesday, March 2: Department of Education (1PM)
Mid-Year Budget Cuts Made to Balance Budget
For the first five months of the fiscal year the state’s revenue shortfall totaled $217 million. A year-end revenue shortfall of $450 million is projected. To address the shortfall, the Governor has directed a freeze of $170 million. Mid-year spending reductions in education total more than $27 million. For a complete list of spending reductions, go to: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/current_and_proposed_commonwealth_budgets/4566.
Meanwhile, the Governor has mentioned that he and the Legislature agreed to a four percent spending increase over this year’s $27.8 billion state budget. However, according to Senate GOP leaders, no formal or written agreement was made. Let this not be an indication that there will be another budget stalemate.
PASBO to Testify at Public Pension Hearing
The Senate Finance Committee will hold the second of a series of public hearings on public pension issues. PASBO Executive Director Jay Himes is scheduled to present testimony as are representatives from TIAA-CREF, the COLA Coalition and the PA Association of Retired School Employees. The committee held its first public hearing on the topic mid-December at which Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) explained the purpose of the hearings is to explore potential solutions to alleviate the rate spike. Please check the Legislative Updates box later this week to read Himes’ testimony in its entirety.
Virtual High School Recommendations Released
The omnibus School Code bill (HB 1067) that accompanied the FY 09-10 budget called for the creation of a commission to study the viability of establishing a state administered virtual high school in the Commonwealth. This week the House Education Committee will meet to review the commission’s recommendations and to consider HR 592 (O’Neill), a resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the costs associated with the State’s establishing the PA Virtual Learning Program and a study of the funding models used by other states with comparable programs. The commission’s report contains 36 recommendations and address topics such as Governance and Oversight, Cost and Funding, Curriculum and Program Quality, Access and Technology, Instructional Staffing, Student-Related Issues, and Miscellaneous.
Science in Motion Bill Up for Committee Vote
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robbins (R-Mercer) that would place into the School Code the “Science in Motion Program” will be considered by the Senate Education Committee. SB 766 would establish the Science Technology Partnership Program and make state funding available to colleges to purchase science equipment which would then be transported to and shared with surrounding schools. Similar legislation passed the Senate last session and was voted favorably from the House Education Committee.
Education Empowerment Proposal Reviewed
The Senate Education Committee held two public hearings last week to receive testimony on Senator Piccola’s (R-Dauphin) and Senator Dinniman’s (D-Chester) proposal to amend the Education Empowerment law, which is set to expire on June 30, 2010. Highlights of the proposal include: All districts and schools (excluding Philadelphia) persistently failing to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) would face increasingly serious consequences; Districts failing to make AYP for eight or more years would fall under control of a three-member School Reform Commission that would report to the Secretary of Education with the SRC having control for at least five years and then the Secretary would terminate state control if AYP is met for two consecutive years; and the Secretary would have authority to order the SRC to close a school or dissolve a school district. The proposal has not yet been formally introduced.