Fiscal Board Approves Philadelphia’s 5-Year Plan

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia’s finances are improving and are likely to continue doing so through 2019.

The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board made that optimistic determination Monday when it unanimously approved the city’s five-year plan.

The city’s fiscal overseers cautioned, however, that various risks were still associated with the Nutter administration’s long-term budget, including unresolved labor contracts, the School District’s fiscal crisis, and the pension fund.

Despite its concerns, PICA staff found enough good news in the five-year plan and in its most recent revenue reports to endorse that administration’s fiscal road map to 2019. So did the City Controller’s Office. Both the staff and the controller had recommended the opposite last year, for the first time in PICA’s history.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140722_PICA_likes_Phila__s_5-year_plan.html#qRukpGb4zKGUI7xu.99

Facing $4.9M Deficit, York City Schools Still Looking To Grow

Map of , United States Public School Districts

Map of , United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Required to adopt a balanced budget by June 30, York City School District officials are cobbling together a proposal with two major pieces of the financial puzzle missing.

First, it’s still unclear whether New Hope Academy Charter School will be forced to close — a scenario that could send an influx of students and money to the district.

And, the teacher’s union has not agreed to new collective-bargaining agreement with the district, which adopted a financial recovery plan that depends significantly on workforce savings achieved through wage and benefits reductions during the next five years.

Nonetheless, district administrators are proposing to move forward with plans to add and expand programs.

Read more:  http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25520609/facing-4-9m-deficit-york-city-schools-still

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Mapping Poverty: Wealthiest And Poorest School Districts In Pennsylvania

Pottstown School District

24% of children in poverty

Estimated Total Population: 22,617
Estimated Population 5 to 17 years old: 3,560
Estimated number of children 5 to 17 years old in poverty: 861

If you click on this link, you can access a map of Pennsylvania at the bottom of the article and by clicking on your school district, you can see the results as demonstrated above for Pottstown School District:  http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/mapping-poverty-wealthiest-and-poorest-school-districts-in-pennsylvania/article_53d4e55a-9810-11e3-8d0a-001a4bcf6878.html

The map is able to be enlarged or shrunk as you see fit (works like Mapquest).  The names of cities and towns are behind the colors, you can see them which will help you find what you are looking for.   Again, make sure you use the map at the bottom of the article, not the one at the top.  Happy hunting!

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Mayor Peduto Puts New Focus On Pittsburgh Public School System

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than a decade ago, the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education called for the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to be appointed by the mayor rather than elected by residents.

That hasn’t happened nor have some of the other recommendations in the 144-page report critical of the district and written during the administration of Tom Murphy in 2003.

In the intervening years, no other mayor or mayor’s commission has tried to take control away from an elected school board or made such sweeping recommendations.

While he hasn’t suggested appointing the school board, Mayor Bill Peduto, sworn in last month, is taking a keen interest in the fate of the school district.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/02/17/Peduto-puts-new-focus-on-city-s-school-system/stories/201402170044#ixzz2tbUvxXqU

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Snow Causes Accidents, School Cancellations

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(UPDATED 10:45 a.m.) An Atlantic Clipper snowstorm traveling across the East Coast Tuesday could drop up to 9 inches of snow in some areas, causing some schools to close and others to institute early dismissal.

Boyertown, Daniel Boone, Owen J. Roberts and the Spring-Ford School District all cancelled classes and all afterschool activities.

Pottstown, Phoenixville, Upper Perkiomen, and the Pottsgrove school districts were all dismissing students early as the snowstorm was expected to worsen in the afternoon.

Collegeville, East Greenville, Spring City Borough, Lower Pottsgrove, and Upper Pottsgrove townships declared snow emergencies Tuesday morning. The snow emergency in Spring City was declared for 9 a.m. and will be in place until noon Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140121/updated-snow-causes-accidents-school-cancellations

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Auditor General: Reading School District’s Efforts To Fix Problems ‘Ridiculous’

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eight months ago, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale lambasted the Reading School District.

In an audit report that he called the worst ever of a school district in Pennsylvania, he derided the district’s leadership, financial management and ability to provide students with a quality education. He said if things didn’t change quickly, there would be a more than strong chance the state would take the district over.

On Friday, DePasquale was back in town to provide an update. The story wasn’t much better.

“It is, again, not a pretty picture,” he said during a press conference at the Reading State Office Building.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140118/NEWS/301189948#.Utqg8PQo6c8

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Western Pennsylvania District Provides Example Of Successful School Merger

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United Sta...

Map of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONACA, PA – In a dimly lit steakhouse some 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, two school superintendents – one current and one newly retired – crowd into a booth illuminated by neon signs.

The smell of barbecue permeates the air at PJ’s Bar-B-Q & Steak House, as Nick Perry and Dan Matsook grab menus and talk school mergers.

For Matsook, it’s a familiar setting for such a discussion.

In October 2005, Matsook, then superintendent of the Center Area School District, sat in another restaurant, the Ground Round in nearby Moon Township, where he and school officials from his district and the neighboring Monaca School District laid the foundation for what would be the first voluntary merger of two school districts in Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140113/NEWS/301139967/1052#.UtQx2vRDsxI

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Pension Crisis About To Explode For Pennsylvania School Districts

School districts across Pennsylvania are getting news that’s unpleasant yet not unexpected.

The Public School Employees Retirement System, or PSERS, last week began sending notices to school districts that their pension costs will climb to 21.4 percent of payroll in the 2014-15 school year.

Even though that total could change a bit before it becomes official at an end-of-year meeting of the PSERS board, it gives a pretty good indication of what school districts are facing.

For historical context, the 21.4 percent figure is the highest rate since at least the 1950s — and it’s quite a jump from the 16.9 percent districts paid this year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131204/pension-crisis-about-to-explode-for-pa-school-districts

U.S. Steel’s Lower Taxes Causing Budget Headaches

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A succession of successful tax appeals by U.S. Steel earlier this year, resulting in the assessed value of some of its major properties in Allegheny County plummeting by millions of dollars, has put big dents in municipal and school budgets.

The drop in real estate tax revenue has prompted three school districts — Woodland Hills, Clairton and West Mifflin — to file court challenges to the appeals granted to U.S. Steel by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, and is pushing Braddock to consider an earned income tax increase.

Ira Weiss, solicitor for the Clairton City School District, called U.S. Steel’s new assessments, which resulted in the value of its coke plant in Clairton dropping from nearly $10.6 million in 2012 to just above $2 million this year, “laughable.”

“We believe the approach of [U.S. Steel] in these appeals with these communities where they’ve been longtime partners is deplorable, really,” Mr. Weiss said. “It was devastating. … [Clairton's] a small school district in a small town and no local government can sustain this kind of hit from an ongoing concern.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2013/11/30/U-S-Steel-s-lower-taxes-causing-budget-headaches/stories/201311300091#ixzz2m9CxWD00

Pottstown Schools Eye Eliminating Class Rank

POTTSTOWN, PA — To rank or not to rank?

That may soon be the question.
Class rank has been a staple of high school life, and college admissions, for years beyond count.

But school board member Polly Weand raised the possibility at the Nov. 21 school board meeting that Pottstown may soon opt-out of the practice.

Weand, who chairs the school board’s curriculum and technology, said the discussion is underway at her committee, which presumably will make a recommendation to the full board, perhaps as soon as January.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131128/pottstown-schools-eye-eliminating-class-rank

Interim Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Focusing On Communication

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

COATESVILLE, PA — It’s been nearly two weeks since the Coatesville Area School District hired interim Superintendent Leonard Fitts to lead the school district during a time of crisis.

Fitts, 73, of Moorestown, N.J., has spent nearly 50 years working in education, serving as superintendent, assistant superintendent and interim superintendent in various school districts in New Jersey.

School board members hoped the hiring of an experienced outsider as the temporary chief would help the district heal from misfortunes surrounding the abrupt departures of two former administrators.

The board, with the help of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, has an ongoing search for a permanent superintendent.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/social-affairs/20131112/interim-coatesville-area-school-district-superintendent-focusing-on-communication

OJR School Board Settles Lawsuit By Ex-Superintendent Myra Forrest

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA—The Owen J. Roberts School Board has closed a lengthy legal chapter by approving a settlement agreement with former Superintendent Myra Forrest.

The agreement puts an end to a legal battle that spanned four years, following Forrest’s 2009 termination.  Forrest had filed a suit with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking damages, although an amount was never made public.  Defendants in the case were the Owen J. Roberts School District, the school board and five former board members.

The matter had been scheduled to go to trial several times, but was postponed each time.  A settlement agreement was reached in June and the case was formally dismissed by the court last month.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement and release, Forrest was given $315,000, to be paid by the district’s insurance company.  That money is intended to cover losses and damages “related to the lawsuit, the superintendent’s contract and/or the employment relationship, or (Forrest’s) separation from her employment and affiliation with defendants,” the language of the agreement states.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20130917/ojr-school-board-settles-lawsuit-by-ex-superintendent-myra-forrest

Harrisburg Officials Say They’ll Compromise On KOZ Incentive

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG – City officials will decide next week whether to allow tax breaks to entice badly needed development on 10 properties – most of which do not generate any revenue currently.

Representatives from the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, Hamilton Health Center, and the local public school district lobbied City Council’s Community Development Committee Wednesday night for a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Target sites include four closed schools and the half-finished Capitol View Commerce Center abandoned by developer David Dodd, who’s now awaiting sentencing for defrauding the $28 million project of federal funds.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/harrisburg_officials_say_theyl.html#incart_river_default

Superintendent: ‘Minersville Has Never Been Distressed’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MINERSVILLE, PA – Superintendent M. Joseph Brady responded Monday night to a June 18 article that ran in The Republican-Herald and the Scranton Times-Tribune that a proposed Senate Democratic Caucus plan may declare Minersville Area as a distressed school district.

Minersville Area School District has never been distressed in all of the time I’m here and I assure you, it’s not distressed now,” Brady said Monday.  “We are financially sound and solid.”

The article states the Senate Democratic minority is proposing to provide special state aid to distressed school districts for a second year in a row in the next budget for six districts in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including Minersville Area in Schuylkill County.

According to a quote by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman, R-34, Bellefonte, senators are looking at how much aid would be provided, how to define which of the 500 school districts are considered distressed and the aid distribution formula.

Read more:  http://republicanherald.com/news/superintendent-minersville-has-never-been-distressed-1.1511313

For At Least 20 Years, Interlocking Problems Have Plagued Wilkinsburg Schools

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Wilkinsburg School District, almost half of students don’t graduate.

A third of students have been involved in incidents that threatened school safety.  On state tests, 86.4 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in math and 68.3 percent aren’t proficient in reading.

The district is hemorrhaging students to charter schools.  It borrowed $3 million for general operating expenses and has furloughed about 80 teachers in the past three years.

Some residents are taken aback when asked for their assessment of the district, seeing it as self-evident that the district has already fallen off the cliff.

“Honestly, it’s too far gone,” said Wilkinsburg resident Stephanie Shea.  “Code blue happened a while ago.  At this point, it needs to be totally dismantled.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/for-at-least-20-years-interlocking-problems-have-plagued-wilkinsburg-schools-691087/#ixzz2VpYDUujs

State Auditor General Rips Reading School District

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They very well may be the worst accounting practices in the state.

That was Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale‘s assessment of the financial situation in the Reading School District, which he shared during a press conference Friday in Reading.

“To be direct,” he said, “the Reading School District has failed its students, failed the children of Reading.  It has failed the taxpayers.”

DePasquale was in the city to release the findings of a major audit his department did on the school district.  The audit was the result of requests by local legislators to investigate the district following the discovery of a more than $15 million accounting error in December.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474980

School Merger A Hard Sell At Exeter Forum

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exeter School District residents made it clear Tuesday night that a full merger with the Antietam School District would be a hard sell to them.

“It seems as if it’s a white knight issue, with Exeter rescuing a school district that’s looking at this as a win-win opportunity,” resident Kim Farinelli told the Exeter School Board and more than 150 attendees who packed the cafeteria at the Reiffton School.

“I don’t see why there’s any reason to have this discussion,” resident Nikki Smith added. “It seems all negative for us and all positive for Antietam.”

The two were among many who took to the podium to voice their opinions at the Exeter community forum, which focused on the findings of a feasibility study on a possible merger between the two districts.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474451

Why The School District Of Lancaster Is Financially Thriving When Similar Districts In Pennsylvania Are Failing

Times are tough for urban school districts in central Pennsylvania.

Saddled with stagnant tax bases and serving large numbers of low-income and special-needs students, they’re struggling to stay afloat in the face of steep cuts in state and federal education funding.

But School District of Lancaster isn’t experiencing the economic woes of its neighbors.

The school districts in York city and Harrisburg have been declared “financially distressed” by the state, which appointed financial recovery committees to develop radical plans to keep them solvent.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/842996_Why-the-School-District-of-Lancaster-is-financially-thriving-when-similar-districts-in-Pennsylvania-are-failing.html#ixzz2RoBpQLeT

Shake-Up: Reading School Board President Leaves Post

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Reading School Board faced two surprising changes Monday night, as one board member resigned and the board president gave up his leadership role.

In a letter read by board President Robert F. Heebner Jr., member Frank B. Denbowski announced he would give up his seat effective midnight Wednesday, following that night’s board meeting.

Denbowski, who did not attend Monday’s meeting, cited his responsibilities as Reading’s recycling and solid waste division manager as his reason for leaving.  Denbowski was in the second year of a four-year term.

After reading Denbowski’s letter, Heebner announced that he is relinquishing the presidency immediately but will remain on the board as a member.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=463377

Pottstown School Board Eyes Administrator Raises

POTTSTOWN — The school board is set to vote Monday on proposed 2 percent raises for mid-level administrators and support staff.

If approved by the board, it will be the first raise in two years for some.

The matter was on the agenda for discussion at Thursday night’s meeting, but none of the school board members had any comment.  The package was recommended by the school board’s personnel committee.

If approved, the raises would be effective April 1, said Business Manager Linda Adams.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130324/NEWS01/130329671/pottstown-school-board-eyes-administrator-raises#full_story