The  2022-23 state budget  represents an increase of $1.3 billion, or 3%, from last year’s budget when supplemental spending and federal stimulus spending are included.  Education fared well as the final budget contains:

  • A $525 million increase in the Basic Education (BEF) subsidy to be run through the BEF formula.
  • A $225 million Level-Up Supplement for 100 school districts.
  • A $100 million increase in the Special Education (SEF) subsidy.
  • A $6.1 million increase for career and technical education, the first boost for CTE since the 2019-20 budget.
  • $200 million of additional funding sought by PSBA for school safety and security and mental health initiatives.

Click here to read PSBA’s news release regarding the new budget.

General Fund Budget
Key appropriations for education under Senate Bill 1100 include:

Basic Education Funding (BEF) Subsidy/Level Up: The BEF subsidy received an overall increase of $750 million for a total of $7.6 billion, which includes roughly $545 million in state payments for school district Social Security costs. Of the increase, $525 million will be distributed to school districts through the Basic Education Funding formula and $225 million will be distributed for the Level-Up initiative, which provides supplemental funding to 100 school districts identified as underfunded. The total amount of BEF funding now being driven through the formula now exceeds $1.4 billion.

Special Education Funding (SEF): The budget boosts funding for special education by $100 million (8.1%), for a total of $1.3 billion. The budget bills also make some changes to the Special Education Funding formula based on the recommendations of the Special Education Funding Commission. PSBA spent extensive efforts to push for an increase in this allocation.

Career and Technical Education: Funding for career and technical education is increased by $6.1 million (6.2%) for a total of $105 million. The funds will be driven out to all eligible schools through the existing formula. Funding for Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants remains level at $5.5 million.

Ready to Learn Block Grant: There is an increase of $107.5 million (7.5%) for the grant, for a total of $395 million for the program. Of this amount, $100 million will be transferred to the School Safety and Security fund for grants to address school-based mental health.

Early Childhood Education:  Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts will receive a $60 million increase (24.8%) for a total of $302 million. The Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program will receive a $19 million increase (27.5%) for a total of $88.1 million. Early intervention will receive a $10 million increase (3%), totaling $346.5 million.

Public School Employees’ Retirement: The budget provides for an additional $239 million increase (8.7%) to $2.98 billion to cover the state’s share of pension costs.

Pupil Transportation: Funding for pupil transportation is increased by $124.1 million (25.9%) for a total of $602.7 million. However, a supplemental appropriation adjustment was made prior to the passage of the budget that reduced the pupil transportation line item by $118 million.  This line item will continue to be regularly adjusted as data is provided to PDE and the legislature regarding formula inputs that dictate funding levels.

Nonpublic and Charter School Transportation: This line item is level funded at $79.4 million.

State Assessment: Funding for state and federal testing programs, including the Keystone Exams and PSSAs, is increased by $1.8 million (4.1%) to $47.1 million.

Dual Enrollment Grants: The budget provides $7 million for this new appropriation. This increase accompanies a change in the School Code which now requires school entities to enter into at least one dual enrollment agreement with an institution of higher education.

Mobile Science and Math Education Programs: The program will receive an increase of $3.95 million (122.9%) for a total of $7.16 million.

Teacher Professional Development: The budget provides level funding at $5.04 million.

EITC/OSTC: The budget raises the amount of tax credits available under the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by $125 million.

 

Student mental health, safety package
One of the key budget asks made by PSBA and school leaders across the state was targeted grant funding for schools to use to address the mental health needs of their students. And in the wake of recent school violence concerns, school leaders also expressed the need for additional funding to address physical security of schools. The General Assembly responded to both of these issues with the creation of targeted School Mental Health Grants and increased funding for existing school safety and security grants. PSBA was pleased to work with Rep. Orititay to move student mental health grants through to its successful passage. The $200 million of additional funding to be directed to the School Safety and Security Fund breaks down as follows:

  • $100 million for School Safety and Security Grants, with $95 million for grants to school entities and $5 million for statewide training
  • $100 million for School Mental Health Grants, with $95 Million for grants to school entities and $5 million for School Mental Health Interns

School entities slated to receive grants include school districts, career and technical centers, intermediate units and charter schools.

 

Numerous provisions regarding school safety and mental health programs are contained within passed omnibus amendments to the School Code under House Bill 1642:

 

School safety and security grant distributions for 2022-23 school year: Every school district will receive $100,000 as a base grant and then an additional amount based on the district’s average daily membership (ADM). Other school entities (career and technical centers, intermediate units, and charter schools) will each receive $70,000.

School safety and security committee member terms: Amends current law to allow legislatively and gubernatorially appointed members to serve for a four-year term and be appointed for an additional consecutive term. The term for members who serve by virtue of the office they hold will now be concurrent with their service in the office which entitles them to committee membership.

School safety and security coordinator: Amends current law to ensure each school entity has appointed a school administrator as the school safety and security coordinator, institutes timelines for filling a vacancy for that position, and tightens training requirements. Requires the School Safety and Security Committee to develop training criteria for school safety and security coordinators that conforms to minimum standards provided for in the bill.

School safety and security training: Amends current law to require at least 1 hour of annual training for school employees regarding emergency training drills (e.g. fire, active shooter, bomb threat) and identification of student behavior which indicates a threat. Further requires the School Safety and Security Committee to adopt minimum standards for training school employees in these areas and provide training and approve 3rd party trainers for these areas.

School safety and security training in educator, administrator and supervisory preparatory programs: Requires school safety and security training be incorporated into educator, administrator, and supervisory preparation programs.

Threat assessment teams: Amends current law to make certain activities concerning threat assessment teams annual requirements.

School mental health grant distributions for 2022-2023 school year: Every school district will receive $100,000 as a base grant. Other school entities (career and technical centers, intermediate units, and charter schools) will each receive $70,000. Uses of grant funds by school entities are also expanded to include more activities associated with student mental health.

Survey of school mental health services: Requires the School Safety and Security Committee to develop and distribute to school entities a survey instrument to measure mental health services by August 1, 2022, to be returned by August 31, 2022.

School Mental Health Internship Program: Establishes the school-based Mental Health Internship Grant Program to be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to award grants to support individuals working in internships in educator preparation programs that lead to certification in school nursing, school psychology, school counseling or school social work. An advisory committee is established to assist in the implementation of the program.  PSBA has a seat on the committee

 

Omnibus School Code amendments  
The General Assembly passed omnibus amendments to the School Code under House Bill 1642. Among the other provisions in House Bill 1642: 

 

High school transcripts: Beginning of the 2022-23 school year, an industry-recognized credential attained by a student must be included on a student's transcript. PSBA worked with Rep. Barb Gleim on this concept as HB 1013 to support this change to the school code.

Keystone Exam two-score composite pathway: Provides an alternative two-score composite pathway to graduation for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A student would be deemed proficient if they demonstrate attainment of a satisfactory composite score of at least 2939, using the highest scores attained by the student on two of the three Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature and Biology. PSBA is thankful to Sen. Scott Martin for pushing this important change that assists students impacted during the pandemic.

Special Education Funding Commission: Reconstitutes the commission on January 15, 2024, with a report due by November 30, 2024.

Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness: Authorizes the creation of a new Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness to gather information and make recommendations regarding goals for the state’s educational system. A Subcommittee on Education Planning is established, and PSBA has a seat on the panel, along with various state officials and organizations. This is similar to the concept introduced by Sen. Ryan Aument as SR 144.

CTE Certification reciprocity: Provides that an out-of-state candidate for a career and technical certification who has a valid and current certificate in another state, 4 years of experience in the occupation they teach, evidence of satisfactory experience from their 2 most recent years of teaching, and who complies with basic teacher eligibility requirements to be eligible for a comparable Pennsylvania vocational instructional certification.  The legislation further provides that individuals who have met these requirements shall be issued a certificate on an expedited basis. This is similar to the concept introduced by Rep. Megan Schroeder as HB 2646 which PSBA supported.

Extension of continuing professional education requirements: Deadlines for educators and paraprofessionals to comply with continuing education requirements are extended one year until June 30, 2023. Continuing professional education requirements for school or system leaders are suspended for one year.

Structured Literacy Program: Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the Department of Education (PDE) must establish a program of professional development and applied practice in the Structured Literacy Program for school personnel that includes in-class demonstration, modeling and coaching support to improve reading and literacy outcomes. Each school entity professional development plan must include training in structured literacy, and each teacher preparation program must include training based on PDE developed reading literacy skill standards. PSBA worked with Rep. Jason Ortitay on HB 2045 to provide technical changes to this legislative language.

Out-of-state applicants for certification: Establishes requirements for PDE to issue a comparable Pennsylvania instructional certificate to out-of-state candidates who satisfies the requirements for teacher certification. PSBA was supportive of this legislative language when it was included in SB 224 and is grateful to Sen. Camera Bartalota for her leadership on this issue.

PreK -12 dance certificate: Requires PDE to develop an instructional certificate in PreK -12 grade twelve dance.

Home-school access to district/CTE programs: Requires school districts to allow home schooled students to enroll in co-curricular activities and take academic courses equaling up to at least one quarter of the school day. Further requires school districts and area career and technical centers (CTCs) to allow home schooled students to participate in a career and technical education programs. Participation must be pursuant to the policies and rules of the school district of residence and on the same basis as other students enrolled in the district or CTC. PSBA would like to thank Rep. Jesse Topper for working with PSBA on HB 1041 to amend this language to be more responsive to the needs of school districts.

Assisting students experiencing education instability: Provides that a student who attended school in the 2021-22 school year may immediately request a diploma from the school they attended in the 2021-22 school year, a prior school, or request a Keystone Diploma from PDE retroactive to the 2021-22 school year.

School meals: Under current law, a school may provide a student an alternative meal instead of the standard school meal if the student owes more than $50 in a school year for unpaid school meals. The bill raises the threshold to $75 and prohibits a school staff member from discarding a school lunch that has already been served to a student. Districts are also now required to offer assistance to families applying for the school food program.

Special education funding provisions: Splits existing special education category 1 into a 1A (between $0 and $5000 student cost) and 1B (between $5000 and category 2 student cost) for reporting purposes. Further provides that the dollar ranges for each special education category shall be adjusted in the future based on the percentage change in the total special education expenditures reported by school districts instead of the current CPI adjustment.

Extended special education enrollment: Entitles a student with a disability who has reached 21 years of age during the 2021-22 school year or between the end of the 2021-22 school year and the beginning of the 2022- 23 school year and was enrolled in the 2021-22 school year to attend school for the 2022-23 school year. The parent must elect to enroll the student by August 1, 2022.

School nurse services for nonpublic schools:  Amends current law to state that in a school district that provided school nurse services to a nonpublic school students during the 2018-19 school year, and received state funding for those services, every child of school age enrolled in the nonpublic school shall continue to be provided with school nurse services.

Drug and Alcohol Recovery High School Program:  Amends current law to convert the program from a pilot to a permanent program.

Dual enrollment: Expands current school district provisions regarding dual enrollment programs to include career and technical centers and charter schools and require each school entity to enter into an agreement with an institution of higher education to allow students to attend the institution of higher education while the students are enrolled in the school entity. PSBA was successful in working with legislators to provide some funding guidance regarding potential overpayments to charter school, however there are still possible funding scenarios that will cause overpayment.

Talent recruitment: Establishes the Committee on Education Talent Recruitment within PDE to address shortages in the education workforce. PSBA would like to thank Sen. Vincent Hughes for working with PSBA on this concept as part of SB 99 and including PSBA on the Committee.

Online course clearinghouse: Authorizes the establishment of a central clearinghouse administered by PDE that will include an online database of online courses for students in grades K-12 and online professional development courses that will be accessible to school entities, nonpublic schools, home education programs and the general public.  PSBA worked with Rep. Orititay on HB 1330 to provide technical changes to this legislative language.

Disability inclusive curriculum: Requires PDE to establish a Disability Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program to provide instruction to students on the political, economic and social contributions of individuals with disabilities.

Cosmetology and barber training through CTC pilot program: Provides for education program hours, and program requirements and reporting, for Career and Technical Education (CTE) cosmetology and barber students enrolled in secondary education programs at a Career and Technology Center (CTC).

Expansion of EITC/OSTC programs: Substantially expands the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) or Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) scholarship programs and increases the total aggregate amount of all tax credits approved for contributions. Of the $125 million increase:

  • $88 million is directed to scholarship organizations;
  • $7 is directed to education improvement organizations;
  • $8 million to pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations;
  • $12 million is directed to be distributed between pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations and scholarship organizations for students who are attending an economically disadvantaged school; and
  • $10 million is directed to opportunity scholarship organizations.

Assistance to school districts in Financial Recovery/Financial Watch Status:  Extends the amount of unencumbered funds PDE may utilize to pay for technical assistance to Financial Watch and Financial Recovery school districts. The amount is $7 million.

Unclaimed reimbursements for building projects: For any approved school building project for which there is an unclaimed prior year reimbursement for a payment made prior to July 1, 2017, the completed and approved reimbursement documentation must be submitted to PDE by December 31, 2023 or it will expire. PDE must notify each school entity twice detailing any unclaimed prior year reimbursement for which documentation must be submitted.

PlanCon moratorium extension: The moratorium on the new Plancon program is extended until July 1, 2023.

Elimination of PDE charter regulations: The PA Department of Education’s proposed regulations for charter and cyber charter schools were repealed as part of the budget negotiations. The General Assembly had consistently voiced its distaste for the proposal by adopting a concurrent resolution disapproving the regulations, which was subsequently vetoed by the governor. The proposal was intended to clarify elements of the Charter School Law and set conditions for accountability and transparency. PSBA provided public comments throughout the process, acknowledging the limited reach of the regulatory process to substantially address charter school reforms, but calling the proposal a step in the right direction. PSBA will continue to work with legislators to seek substantive, meaningful changes to the Charter School Law.

 

Omnibus Fiscal Code amendments 
Also passed by the General Assembly was House Bill 1421, which amends the state Fiscal Code to make various changes necessary to implement the 2022-23 state budget, including these provisions of interest to school districts:

Violence intervention and prevention: Authorizes $75 million in federal Covid relief funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) to be used to provide grants and technical assistance to community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, local governments, and other entities in accordance with the Public School Code.

Online course clearinghouse: Authorizes up to $1.5 million for the establishment of a central clearinghouse administered by PDE.

Emergency education relief to nonpublic schools: The bill provides for the reallocation of federal Covid relief money appropriated to nonpublic schools. Funds shall be used in accordance with federal law.  Other language states that nonpublic schools that qualify for grants from the PA Department of Education may choose any educational service provider provided through an intermediate unit that is administering the program.

Appropriation of various funds: Provides for per-student grant awards from the money appropriated for the Pre-K Counts Program; provides for the allocation of funds for after-school learning programs for low-income students; provides for funding for regional community college services and their councils. Notwithstanding the law, pupil transportation funding may not be used for any other purpose.