2017 Advocacy & Legislative Review – Part I

by Randy Ziegenfuss and Lynn Fuini-Hetten on January 8, 2018

Did you know that the Pennsylvania General Assembly took action on many education issues in 2017? Read about some of these issues below in this first of a two-part series on education advocacy and legislation in PA. Information provided by Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). As a citizen of Pennsylvania and Salisbury Township School District, you and your voice are important for our legislators to hear.

Check out this blog and the Salisbury Township School District Facebook page for other opportunities to advocate for Salisbury learners at the state level and public education in general! You can also contact our state representatives, state senator and members of the House and Senate education committees and share your views on important education issues. And thanks for your continued support of public education!

What education issues should our legislators address in 2018? How will you get involved?

Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D.

Lynn Fuini-Hetten
Assistant Superintendent

Act 2: Administration of Epi-Pens by school bus drivers and crossing guards – Act 2 of 2017 provides civil immunity to school bus drivers and crossing guards who administer an epinephrine auto-injector, or epi-pen, to a student who experiences an allergic reaction. A bus driver or crossing guard must first complete a training program and comply with school district policy to be qualified to use the epi-pen. It does not mandate that school districts or school bus companies enact an epi-pen policy, only that such a policy would allow for civil immunity if the guidelines are met.

Act 5: Pension reform – Act 5 of 2017 requires future employees hired on or after July 1, 2019 to select one of three new plan design options, either one of two side-by-side hybrid defined benefit (DB)/defined contribution (DC) plans or a stand-alone DC plan. No changes are made to retirement benefits for current employees, but they would have the option to choose one of the new plan designs.

Act 6: Graduation Requirements for CTE (Career/Technical Education) Students – Act 6 of 2017 establishes alternative pathways to graduation for career and technical education concentrators by allowing CTE students to demonstrate proficiency by completing locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with the Keystone Exams on which the CTE student did not achieve proficiency. Students also must attain an industry based competency certification related to the student program of study or demonstrate a high likelihood of success on an approved industry based competency assessment such as the National Occupation Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) or the NIMS (National Institute of Metalworkers Skills).

Act 1-A: State budget spending plan – Act 1-A of 2017 contains the General Appropriations bill for the 2017-18 state budget. For education, the budget bill provides a $100 million increase for the Basic Education Subsidy for a total of $5.99 billion. Special education received an increase of $25 million to $1.12 billion for special education. Level funding is provided for pupil transportation ($549 million), the Ready to Learn Block Grant program ($250 million), career and technical education ($62 million), career and technical education equipment grants ($3 million) and the Safe Schools Initiative ($8.5 million). The budget includes a $25 million increase for the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and a $5 million increase for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. Funding for state and federal testing programs, including the Keystone Exams and PSSAs, is decreased by $7.8 million, from $58 million to $50.42 million. The budget for teacher professional development is decreased from $6.45 million to $5.95 million.The Mobile Math and Science Education Program received an $1.7 million increase to $3.96 million.

Act 38: Tax collection fraud prevention – Act 38 of 2017 amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to be placed in an account in an individual’s name and require the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes. This new account shall also be used for taxes collected by the tax collector under the Local Tax Enabling Act.

Act 44: Fiscal Code amendments – Act 44 of 2017 provides $500 million in fund transfers and makes numerous changes to various state accounts. Act 44 includes these provisions:

  • Audit response: Requires school districts and others that receive state aid to respond to recommendations made by the Auditor General as part of an audit. Districts must submit a response within 120 business days of the publication of the audit. Failure to respond to audit recommendations may be considered when determining future state appropriations to the agency. Responses will be posted to the Auditor General’s website.
  • First Chance Trust Fund: Establishes a fund to provide money for scholarships that benefit children in areas with higher drop-out rates, incarceration rates and crime rates.
  • PlanCon: Extends the deadline to July 1, 2021 for school districts with construction projects in the pipeline to vote to proceed with construction and award bids to remain eligible for state reimbursement. It also extends the deadline for the report of the state PlanCon Advisory Committee that was due in May, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018.
  • Definition of Market Value for school subsidy: Includes a new definition for “market value” relating to the calculation of the aid ratio and market value/income aid ratio which mitigates the impact of the City of Philadelphia’s recent reassessment on various future school district subsidies and allow future subsidy payments to remain consistent with current estimates.
  • Educational Access Program funding: Provides for an annual, recurring $14 million increase in Educational Access Program funding for the Erie School District.
    SERS and PSERS defined contribution plan costs: Establishes restricted accounts for the State Employees’ and the
  • Public School Employees’ Retirement Systems (PSERS) to receive non-system funding to create and implement defined contribution plans.
  • Allocations to Department of Education for various programs: Allocates funds for an after-school learning program for low-income students, for approved private schools, various community education councils and regional community college services.
  • Work experience for high school students with disabilities: Includes funding for services under the Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act.

Act 48: Performance-based budget/state tax credit program review – Act 48 of 2017, requires all state agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction, including the Department of Education, to be subject to a performance-based budget review by the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO). The review will examine each agency’s appropriations and programs, including information on populations served, grants awarded and subsidies provided, descriptive information and data related to existing performance measures, and other information. In addition, Act 48 requires a review of all state tax credit programs. The review must include the purpose for which the tax credit was established, whether it is accomplishing the legislative intent, and whether it could be more efficiently implemented through alternative methods. The review will also include the costs of providing the tax credit, including administrative costs to the state and lost revenues to the state and local government entities.

(Information provided by PSBA.)


Happy Holidays 2017 from the Salisbury Township School District

by Randy Ziegenfuss and Lynn Fuini-Hetten on December 16, 2017

Join us for the free Community Breakfast – November 11th at SHS!

November 3, 2017

Salisbury Township School District and Salisbury Township are partnering to host the 3rd Annual Community Breakfast! Salisbury Township residents, employees & school district alumni are invited to join us Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:00am-11:00am at Salisbury High School (500 E. Montgomery St., Allentown, PA) for free breakfast. Breakfast includes: pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee & juices Breakfast is free, […]

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Please take the Child Nutrition Survey!

October 27, 2017

As you know, we have been working with SFE and our cafeteria staff to provide a different breakfast and lunch experience in all of our school buildings. As we enter November, we would like to hear your feedback! Parents/guardians can take the parent survey. Students will be given a separate students survey sometime over the […]

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Resolution in Support of Public Education #lovepubliceducation

October 12, 2017

At their October 11, 2017 meeting, Salisbury Township School District board members approved a resolution in support of public education. The resolution outlines the values of the Salisbury community in support of public education and calls on local, state and federal lawmakers to prioritize support for strengthening our nation’s public schools and empowering local education leaders. […]

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Celebrating our SuperPowers in Salisbury Township School District!

October 11, 2017

During Opening Convocation, we challenged Salisbury Township School District faculty and staff to use their superpowers to help us realize our vision. This month, five staff members were recognized for using their SuperPowers! Mary Bishop – Administration Building (energy) Anne Schneider – Salisbury High School (vision) Doug Lapp – Harry S. Truman (energy) Barb Mainero […]

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