Education Wins in #PABudget Code Bills as passed in the #PAHouse

By The Numbers

The 2017-18 state budget reaffirms the PA House Republicans' commitment to providing Pennsylvania’s students with a quality education from the youngest ages through their college years.

Increased Basic Education Funding through the Fair Funding Formula by $100 million to $5.995 billion.

Restored Governor Wolf’s harmful Pupil Transportation cut to school districts.

Increased early childhood education funding (Pre-K Counts and Head Start) by $30 million to $226.5 million.

Increased Special Education Funding by $25 million to $1.122 billion.

Set a record high $11.86 billion for PreK-12 education – in fact, with this budget, Republicans will have increased PreK-12 education by $1 billion over two years.

Maintained state support for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities and provided a 2 percent increase to the State System of Higher Education with $8.84 million.

The success of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology with an increase of $1 million.

Protecting Excellent Teachers: Economic Furloughs/Seniority (LIFO)

To protect Pennsylvania’s best teachers and keep them in the classroom, the new School Code ends the practice of seniority-based layoffs. Instead, the new law requires teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions.

Teacher performance ratings are already assigned under a comprehensive statewide educator evaluation system based on a balanced matrix of classroom observation and student academic growth. Observed educators earn a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing. The law prohibits conflicts in new collective bargaining agreements. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee would conduct a study after four years regarding the new provisions’ effectiveness at improving school district efficiency and their impact on programs offered to students.

“Pennsylvania spends billions on public education every year. This provision ensures we’re investing wisely by keeping our most effective teachers in our classrooms, rather than elevating teacher seniority over teacher success.” - Rep. Stephen Bloom

Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC)

Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC)

The spending plan increases by $10 million our successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit initiatives offering our business community the ability to become more involved in education opportunities for students through scholarships and donations.

The EITC program opens access to good nonpublic schools by allowing businesses to claim a tax credit for donations to scholarship funds for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 children, and has the potential to offer even freer educational choice than a voucher program.

More than 40,000 students benefit from the EITC program each year through business contributions to scholarship organizations. Additionally, the program assists countless Pennsylvania students in traditional public schools through the innovative educational programs that are funded through business contributions to Education Improvement Organizations under the program.

The OSTC is targeted only at students in “low-achieving schools” (those in the lowest 15 percent of their designation as elementary or secondary), but provides scholarships in a similar manner to the EITC program.

“Families who want educational opportunities – to attend nonpublic schools or to participate in afterschool educational enhancement activities – but cannot afford them have found the educational improvement and opportunity scholarships to be positively life-changing.” - Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Turzai

Keystone Exam Delay

The School Code will extend the moratorium of using the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement by an additional year – through the 2020 school year.

Knowing What They’re Doing - School Director Training

The state Department of Education (PDE) will (at no cost to school districts) provide mandatory training for newly elected or appointed school directors, charter school trustees or school reform commission members. The four hours of training will cover instruction and academic programs, personnel, fiscal management, operations, ethics and open meetings.

PDE will further provide training for those re-elected or reappointed within a year of the new term. The training will cover changes in state and federal law and other necessary information.

Future Farmers and the Ag Industry

Creates a Commission of Agricultural Excellence to develop and oversee a statewide plan for agricultural education. This will help students interested in moving into the agricultural field, whether farming or the industrial side with a uniform curriculum based on high priority occupations, and provide support with state and local FFA programs.

Drug / Alcohol Recovery and Opioid Abuse Prevention

A drug and alcohol abuse recovery high school will be designated by the state education department. This is a pilot program mandating a report to the General Assembly by the end of 2020; PDE and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Services will draft the report.

In addition to the currently required educational instruction for alcohol, chemical and tobacco abuse, the legislation now requires further instruction in the prevention of opioid abuse. To reduce district costs, PDE will develop model curriculum which districts MAY use. Further, the state will develop in-service training programs for teachers.

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