May 19, 2020

PSBA Announces Funding, Mandate Relief Campaign to Support Public Schools
PSBA is pleased to announce a new advocacy campaign addressing cost savings, planning and budget issues of concern to our members. The Campaign to Support Public Schools is designed to relieve school districts from the effects of state-imposed unfunded and underfunded mandates and provide the flexibility needed to weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses funding for public schools and seeks changes to allow them to realize immediate savings and strategic flexibility in these areas:
  • Providing sustained state education funding
  • Broadening mandate relief
  • Enhancing flexibility for budgets
  • Reforming charter school funding
  • Addressing the digital divide
  • Updating transportation policies
  • Providing needed personnel management flexibility; and
  • Modernizing public advertising rules
Adopt the new resolution!
PSBA is calling on Harrisburg policymakers to help reduce costs and remove the barriers that hamper local innovation. As part of the campaign, we are asking school boards to adopt this resolution urging the General Assembly to provide critical support and mandate relief benefiting public schools and students.  

More about the campaign
PSBA is seeking enactment of legislation that will allow school districts to be more responsive to students' individual needs and address cost-savings measures in the communities in which they reside. The campaign addresses these issues and asks:
Providing sustained state education funding
  • Critical state education funding: The state must not decrease education funding in the 2020-21 state budget, and should not use federal funding under the CARES Act or other federal funds to supplant the allocation of critically needed state subsidies in current or future budgets.
 Broadening mandate relief
  • Broad mandate waiver program: The state should permanently re-establish the successful mandate waiver program which operated from 2000 to 2010. The program allowed school districts to apply for waivers to suspend a wide variety of mandates on public schools.
  • Graduation requirements: The state should extend the effective date for the new graduation requirements for the class of 2022 by an additional year in order to address delayed testing, career planning and other graduation activities that may be necessary for students due to the necessary elimination of all standardized assessments and related activities in the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Flexible Instruction Days: The state should expand the Flexible Instructional Day (FID) program to increase the number of allowable FIDs from 5 to 10 and make application timing requirements more flexible. 
 Enhancing flexibility for budgets
  • Budgeting flexibility: In the event of a partial state budget which would require a second general appropriation bill later in the year, the state should allow districts to reopen budgets during the school year to provide the increased ability to address spending.
  • Delinquent real estate tax collection: The state should remove the requirement for a school district to pay fees to the County Tax Claim Bureau when the district utilizes the services of other entities for collection of delinquent real estate taxes. 
  • Cash flow assistance: The state should extend the Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) payment from the current one-year period to two years in order to assist districts who run into financial distress.
  • Notice of residential development: The state should require municipalities to notify school districts of approved residential development plans so that districts are aware of new housing areas which could bring large and unexpected enrollments.
 Reforming charter school funding
  • Charter funding reform: The state should create a statewide cyber charter funding formula that addresses the true costs of cyber education and sets an annual statewide tuition rate for cyber charter schools. In addition, the state should apply the same special education funding formula used by the state for school districts to charter schools
 Addressing the digital divide
  • Expand connectivity: The state should address the extreme connectivity disparities that hamper efforts to provide continuity of education across the commonwealth. Legislation that expands the deployment of connectivity in Pennsylvania is needed to enable broadband providers to easily deliver their services to areas where it is needed.
 Updating transportation policies
  • Transportation: The state should remove the requirement for school districts to provide transportation to a student living within the district boundaries but attending a private school that is located outside of Pennsylvania, except in the case of special schools and classes approved by PDE that provide specialized instruction to students with disabilities. Further, the 10-mile transportation limit should be reduced to 5 miles for all private school transportation requirements.
Providing needed personnel management flexibility
  • Economic furloughs: The state should allow school districts to furlough professional and support staff for economic reasons in a more flexible manner if the district experiences a local or state revenue shortfall of at least 2% by January 1, 2021.
 Modernizing public advertising rules
  • Reduce mandated advertising costs: The state should allow school districts to use a menu of options to advertise public notices, including electronic and print formats

Click here to see PSBA's new Mandate Relief webpage and read the detailed description of the 13 proposals in the new campaign.

Also look for PSBA's Federal Focus newsletter to be distributed later today.