School Mandate Relief Package Unveiled
Senators Piccola and Dinniman, the Republican and Democratic chairs of the Senate Education Committee, unveiled a comprehensive mandate relief package to help school districts better control their costs. Included in the set is my Senate Bill 612, legislation to empower schools to make furloughs for economic necessity, just as it is in private industry. Other bills in the package include:
- Senate Bill 202 - allow alternative certifications for principals and teachers;
- Senate Bill 293 and 296 - link bid thresholds to consumer price index;
- Senate Bill 329 - suspend certain reporting requirements in years when state education funding declines;
- Senate Bill 537 - require 2/3 school board vote to raise property taxes;
- Senate Bill 801 - permit single prime bidding;
- Senate Bill 802 - give districts the option to hire either school certificated nurses or Registered Nurses;
- Senate Bill 803 - permit districts to advertise from a menu of options, including the internet;
- Senate Bill 814 - reauthorize Mandate Waiver program allowing school construction project bids by both multi- and single prime;
- Senate Bill 857 - repeal obsolete sections of the Public School Code that require districts to use increases in basic education funding for new programs and expansion of existing programs;
- Senate Bill 858 - permit districts the option of hiring certificated superintendents or candidates who have a graduate degree in business or finance; and
- Senate Bill 884 - waive administrator training requirements for districts demonstrating measured growth in performance.
- Repeal requirements for paid sick and sabbatical leaves (leaving these issues to collective bargaining between districts and teachers' unions);
- Suspend (for two years) teachers' continuing education and professional development requirements;
- Give districts more flexibility to determine dual enrollment policies;
- Require the Secretary of Education and State Board of Education to review and overhaul Department of Education's processes for school construction and reimbursement; and
- Lift the mandate on schools to provide transportation for students who attend out-of-state private schools.
The Senate Education Committee also conducted an informational briefing on the proposed Keystone Exams, Implementation of Pennsylvania's Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS), and new graduation rate information. All of these initiatives are designed to give schools more flexibility in educating students in light of the severe fiscal challenges facing both schools and the state.