Charter Reform Bills
On October 16, the Senate voted SB 1085 out of the Senate Education Committee. During the meeting numerous questions were posed from both Republican and Democratic senators who feel the bill does not effectively address many issues: pension “double dip”, expansion of charter schools, truancy, etc. In the end, the general consensus was that more discussion and research is needed, and the bill was voted out of Committee in order for that process to begin. The bill is now in Appropriations and amendments are expected from both Republican and Democratic senators.
The House’s cyber-charter reform bill, HB 618 , is currently in the Senate Education Committee. This bill, voted out of the House in September, attempts to fix the “double-dip” funding cyber charter schools are currently receiving regarding pension payments from the school district and the state. The bill also includes provisions regarding: accountability, truancy, teacher evaluation, the charter process including the establishment of cyber charter schools and changes to the State Charter School Appeals Board, and fund balance limits. HB 618 would also create a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission, (similar to the function of the recently formed Special Education Funding Commission) that would examine the financing of charter and cyber charter schools. Such a commission would need to issue a report of its findings and recommendations no later than March 31, 2014.
Next steps for Pennsylvania’s Chapter 4 (standards and assessments) regulations
On October 18, final form Chapter 4 revisions were submitted to the House and Senate Education Committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) for review. As mentioned in
previous VOTER reports, these revisions amend the existing regulations to reflect Pennsylvania’s Common Core Standards in English language arts, address test security concerns, and require students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school.
The IRRC must provide at least 20 days for both the House and Senate Education Committees to review/act. The Committees may approve, disapprove, or notify the IRRC of intent to review the regulation. If the Committees disapprove or file notice of intent to review, they are then given a 14-day review period. The IRRC may then approve with Committee approval, approve with Committee disapproval, or disapprove. After final action is taken by the IRRC and legislative committees, the Attorney General receives the final-form regulation. If the Attorney General approves the regulation, it is then published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and it becomes effective as law on the date of publication unless otherwise specified.
On November 21, the IRRC will meet and act on Chapter 4 regulations during a public meeting in Harrisburg at 10 AM. Any individual wishing to submit public comments must do so before 10 AM on November 19. All correspondence and documents relating to a regulation submitted to IRRC are a matter of public record and appear on IRRC website. The agenda and any changes to the meeting date or time can also be found there, as well as meeting attendance guidelines.
Final form Chapter 4 regulations can be found here.