Schools Ignore Grand Jury’s Warning To Let Police Investigate Sex Cases

A grand jury in Harrisburg declared 17 months ago that school administrators are singularly unqualified to investigate alleged sexual abuse, but the practice continues.

“School district administrators lack training needed to conduct a meaningful investigation into whether or not physical or sexual abuse has occurred,” according to a Dauphin County grand jury’s investigation of Susquehanna Township School District in January 2014.

The grand jury said administrators lack access to investigative resources such as search warrants, court orders, wiretaps or subpoenas and lack training in the questioning of victims, witnesses and suspects.

“Very often, a preliminary investigation will tip off a suspect and foreclose the availability of the investigative resources described above even once the police become involved,” the panel concluded.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/8531007-74/police-district-jury#ixzz3cfnzxrM0
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Report: Pa. House Bill To Abolish School Property Taxes Would Fall $1.5 Billion Short

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — A House bill to eliminate all school property taxes would fall $1.5 billion short of generating enough money to replace the revenue existing property taxes raise, according to a report from Pennsylvania‘s Independent Fiscal Office.

“The IFO has confirmed the views I held in June,” when the bill was tabled, said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, who released the report over the weekend. “House Bill 1776 simply does not raise the revenue it claims to provide.”

Sponsors of the bill estimated it would raise about $10 billion a year by increasing the state’s income tax rate to 4 percent from 3.04 percent and the state sales tax rate to 7 percent from 6 percent.

Allegheny County‘s rate, already at 7 percent, would jump to 8 percent.

Exeter-Antietam School District Merger Talks Give Rise To Questions

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

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

By definition, it’s a union – oftentimes, an absorption. It could be as simple as sharing a sports team. Or as complex as a new high school.

For the school officials who make the ultimate decision, though, mergers aren’t so easily defined. They’re complex; never the same. And ultimately, the trigger for heated emotions all around.

Since talk of a merger between the Exeter and Antietam school districts reignited this year, questions have arisen.

If the two were to combine, residents wondered, would there be a new name? Which high school would be used? And who, if anyone, would actually benefit?

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=410187

Little Relief Anticipated As School Taxes Rise In Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

School property taxes have risen more sharply this year than in 2011-12 as Lancaster County school districts continue to struggle with stagnant revenues and surging expenses.

State funding for basic education has been flatlined for most Lancaster County school districts for 2012-13, and local sources of revenue are stagnant or declining as more property owners successfully appeal their assessments.

In addition, school officials say, there was less fat to be cut from budgets this year because so many districts implemented steep spending cuts and wage freezes in 2011-12.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/687758_Little-relief-anticipated-as-school-taxes-rise-here.html#ixzz20bremAN8

Budget Crisis Forces Staff Cuts In Many Berks County School Districts

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

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

Attrition.

It’s a word that has no doubt become quite familiar to school board members across Berks County as they look to shed expenses.

And the No. 1 expense for a school district? Personnel.

Cutting staff is a tough choice, but one many Berks school districts have faced. In all, 15 districts have said they will trim their ranks for the 2012-13 year.

Because cutting jobs has a big impact on people’s lives, attrition has become the preferred method.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=389391

Pennsylvania House Panel Considers Eliminating School Property Tax

HARRISBURG, PA – The House Finance Committee today wrangled with a controversial idea — eliminating school property taxes and replacing the money with higher state personal income taxes and higher state sales taxes.

Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, said property taxes on residential and commercial buildings are a major burden for many owners, especially senior citizens on fixed incomes.

“Even when the mortgage on a house is paid off, the owner still has to ‘rent’ it from the government by paying school property taxes, and that isn’t fair,” he said. Some owners have lost their homes when they were unable to pay rising property taxes, he added.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/state-house-panel-considers-eliminating-school-property-tax-636889/

Pennsylvania Gets More Than $41 Million In Federal Education Funds

Pennsylvania has been given more than $41 million in education funding through the federal Race to the Top grant program.

The money will be used mainly for a new evaluation system for teachers, an effort to align academic standards and improve access to charter and online charter schools, according to state education officials.

The $41,326,299 grant will be paid over the next four years.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=355271

Pottstown’s PEAK Program Featured In Philadelphia Inquirer Article

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building ...

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The Philadelphia Inquirer, the nation’s eleventh largest newspaper, did a great article about Pottstown School District‘s PEAK program.

To read something very positive about our community and school district, click here: http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20110627_Pottstown_program_aims_for_peak_performance_in_kindergarten.html

Pottstown School Board/Administration Speak Out Against Thomas Hylton’s Propaganda Blitz

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County
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One can hardly pick up a print edition of the Pottstown Quicksilver these days without seeing some sort of advertorial from Pottstown Citizens For Responsible Government Treasurer and School Board Director Thomas Hylton.  Mr. Hylton has tried to sway public opinion about all things Pottstown School District for some time.

Recently, Mr. Hylton went on the attack against Pottstown Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reed Lindley, current school board directors, school board candidates and the Task Force.  Things came to a head at last Thursday’s school board meeting when Dr. Lindley, Director Polly Weand and Director Robert Hartman called Mr. Hylton on the carpet for his campaign of misinformation directed toward Dr. Lindley, fellow school board members and the Task Force.

Evan Brandt’s coverage of the meeting and the background information leading up to Mr. Hylton’s tongue-lashing by Lindley, Weand and Hartman was well documented and unbiased.  I am glad to see that Mr. Hylton’s monetary contributions to the local print newspaper are not buying him “protection” from scrutiny.  Frankly, I think today’s front page article portrays Mr. Hylton in an unfavorable yet realistic light.  It’s about time!

We still think Mr. Hylton should turn over the money from Trees Inc. to the borough. 

If Mr. Hylton truly cared about Pottstown, he would stop wasting money on ridiculous advertorials, supplements and glossy post cards and use that money for something constructive.  The tens of thousands of dollars wasted could have been used for the Community Land Trust, the PDIDA Main Street Manager program, to fund a downtown ambassador program, the Pottstown Cluster or any number of projects that would benefit the citizens of Pottstown.  Instead, this money was squandered to feed Tom’s massive ego and to advance one man’s agenda.  It was not used to make a positive difference in the community he supposedly cares so much about. 

Maybe voters should think about that when election time rolls around!

Education Week Releases Annual State Report Cards

Bookstand with large textbook

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Education Week has released the results of their grading of all 50 states’ educational systems. Pennsylvania scored a B-.  Maryland had the highest score with a B+ followed by New York’s B rating.  The Dakotas and the District of Columbia scored a D+.

Click the link below to view the interactive map.  Click on each state to see details on who made the grade and how they did it.

Pennsylvania did well compared to the rest of the United States however; a B- certainly leaves room for improvement.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2011/16src.h30.html

Election Day, Tuesday November 3rd

Tomorrow is Election Day!  If you are unhappy with how things are going in your corner of the world, GET OUT AND VOTE!  Otherwise, things won’t change.

Tomorrow’s elections are for municipal officials, school board seats, District judges, PA Superior Court judges, Commonweath Court judges and Common Pleas Court judges!

If you live in Pottstown SD (4 seats open) or Owen J Roberts SD (6 seats open) I hope you vote.  These elections will impact your wallet depending on who gets elected and what course of action each district will take as a result.

Four Pottstown Borough Council seats and Pottstown Mayor are up for grabs.  Again, if you don’t like the way things are going now is your chance to vote for change.  We need more people on Council who will move Pottstown forward!

The polls are open from 7 am until 8 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3rd).   If you are not sure where to vote, you can go to the Pottstown Borough website, for example, and find out.  Pottstown lists polling places under About Pottstown, Voting Locations on their website:

http://www.pottstown.org/about_voting.htm/

If you don’t live in Pottstown, check your township or borough website for voting information.