Category Archives: Education

Legislature Considers Teacher Layoff Rules Changes

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow school administrators to base layoff decisions in part on teachers’ performance, as measured by the state’s new evaluation system, according to The Pennsylvania Independent online news service.

Legislature Considers Teacher Layoff Rules ChangesReporter Mary C. Tillotson wrote that, if the layoff rules bill passes, Pennsylvania would join 22 other states that require seniority to be only one of several factors in teacher layoff decisions. Of those, 18 states explicitly mandate teacher performance be considered, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Pennsylvania’s evaluation system, which will be fully in place next year and is being implemented now in the Pottsgrove School District, includes a variety of measures for teacher performance, which the council considers a plus, Tillotson wrote. Those measures include student growth data, measured in various ways, and classroom observations.

Pennsylvania law allows teachers to attain permanent status after three years on the job.

The Association of American Educators doesn’t have a position on the Pennsylvania bill, said Alix Freeze, senior director of communications and advocacy for the group, but 78 percent of its members nationwide disagree with seniority-based layoffs in its 2014 membership poll.

The Pennsylvania State Educators Association opposes the bill, but its spokespeople didn’t return calls for comment.
Opponents of the bill have expressed concern the evaluation system may not give an accurate portrait of a teacher’s effectiveness. Some have argued increased funding for schools would decrease the need for layoffs.

House Budget Banks On Liquor Stores Sale Money

House Budget Banks On Liquor Stores Sale Money
The state capitol

HARRISBURG PA – Finally, according to The Pennsylvania Independent online news service, there’s a real budget proposal available from the General Assembly.

After shuffling around a shell bill that served simply as a vehicle for the state’s 2014-15 spending plan, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday (July 24, 2014) sent a more detailed, $29.1 billion budget proposal to the chamber’s floor, Independent reporter Andrew Staub wrote.

The committee approved the proposal in a party-line vote — 21-14 — after more than two hours of debate. Lawmakers have until Monday (June 30) to meet their deadline to pass a budget, so the House could vote on the budget bill soon. With that in mind, here are three take-aways from the plan:

  • The House is counting on more than $380 million in revenue next year by starting to phase out Pennsylvania’s monopolization of liquor stores. That’s far from a done deal.
  • Big concerns remain, particularly among Democrats, over education funding. They charge Gov. Tom Corbett’s hopes for a $100 million won’t be enough.
  • There’s no tax increase called for, but there are millions in one-time transfers. That means they can’t and won’t be duplicated in future budgets, possibly creating a later deficit.

Read Staub’s story, titled “House counting on liquor privatization, one-time transfers for budget” and published Tuesday by The Independent, here.

More District Residents Pocket Property Tax Savings

SANATOGA PA – The number of home owners in the Pottsgrove, Pottstown, Spring-Ford Area and Perkiomen Valley school districts participating in this year’s tax-reducing state homestead exemption program increased over 2013, local Rep. Mark Painter announced Monday (June 10, 2014).

More District Residents Pocket Property Tax SavingsThe program this year provided roughly $150,000 in property tax relief to about 600 home owners in the four districts, Painter reported. A total of more than $9 million was distributed statewide. Gambling tax revenues collected from Pennsylvania casinos and elsewhere cover the cost.

It’s possible far more could have benefited, he added. “Every homeowner who is eligible should submit the free application so they receive their share of state gaming proceeds,” said Painter, whose office helped promote the program.

All owner-occupied homes are eligible for the rebate. A homeowner must apply only once, and the savings is permanent until they sell their home or use their home for business or rental purposes. Those who are unsure if they qualify for the program should call Painter’s office on Heritage Drive and his staff “will be happy to walk you through the simple application process,” Painter said.

In Pottstown, participation in the homestead exemption program – which is only available to owner-occupied homes and not rental units – is now above 2009-10 levels. “This is the key to helping protect the tax base in Pottstown and preventing the need for higher property tax increases,” Painter claimed, because he said owner-occupied homes tend to bring in additional non-property tax revenue.

Moritzen Selected As Director For Western Center

LIMERICK PA – When the Joint Operating Committee of the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center meets Monday night (June 2, 2014) in Limerick, it is expected to approve the selection of Christopher E. Moritzen, a Lancaster PA resident, as the center’s new administrative director.

Moritzen Selected As Director For Western Center
Christopher Moritzen

Moritzen succeeds Dr. Anthony Georeno, who has been serving as interim administrative director until a new candidate for the position was chosen. The director is the center’s chief operating officer and leader. The Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford Area and Upper Perkiomen school districts all send students to the center for expanded or advanced education and skills training.

Moritzen currently works as director of Delaware County Technical High School. He should be available to start work in Limerick, at an annual salary of $128,500, within 60 days of the committee’s approval or earlier if released by his employer.

“The superintendents of the sending districts are impressed with Mr. Moritzen’s creativity and enthusiasm for marketing (Western Center) programs, and we are excited for him to begin to build additional partnerships with area businesses,” Shellie A. Feola, Pottsgrove’s superintendent and the center’s superintendent of record, said in announcing the appointment.

Public perceptions of career and technical education need to be changed, Moritzen noted. “This is not the old Vo-Tech, he said. “We are preparing students for today’s technologically advanced careers while challenging students academically to be prepared for the rigors of college and beyond. Whether pursuing a career as a doctor or a carpenter, (the Western Center) will be there to support students and their families.”

Moritzen holds both teaching and administrative certifications and experiences in K-12 school districts, alternative education, and in vocational settings. His career includes service as principal at Delaware County Technical High School, assistant principal at Brownstown Career and Technical Center in Lancaster County, and assistant principal at Penn Manor High School in Millersville PA.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education from the State University of New York at Brockport, and went on to earn his master of education degree in curriculum and instruction at Penn State. He later earned his vocational education certification at Temple University, and now is enrolled in a doctoral program in school system leadership at Widener University.

Photo from the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center