PA State Board Meeting Highlights Include Staff Shortage Concerns (November 18, 2021)

On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, the PA State Board of Education met via virtual means. During the meeting, Ed Sec Dr. Noe Ortega reported that schools are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic. He highlighted the shortages being felt in all staffing areas and stated that PennDOT and the PA School Bus Association have been collaborating with PDE to address the shortage of school bus drivers.

Sec Ortega also said that efforts continue to place COVID-19 mitigation strategies under increased local control. PDE is also endeavoring to measure the impact/effectiveness of ESSR monies, including the identification and sharing of best practices regarding the use of those funds. He also said that efforts regarding addressing the pandemic have resulted in students getting back to the classroom for in-person learning.

The Board and Sec Ortega also discussed the exiting of superintendents and other school leaders from the profession and expressed concerns regarding increased stressors being experienced by those in the field of education. Sec Ortega stated shortages in schools in all areas point out the need to get more people into the “pipeline” for achieving the necessary certifications to attain positions in the school setting.

The Board also heard presentations on Pennsylvania’s pass rates on elementary content teacher licensing tests; the Act 101 Program Report for 2020-21; a report from the College Textbook Policies Advisory Committee; and the annual report of the Professional Standards and Practices Committee. With regard to the latter, a summary of 2020 cases was provided;  it was reported that the state has amended the Code of Professional Conduct and Practices, which went into effect in May 2021; and a focus has been placed on electronic communications between staff and students.  With regard to the act 101 report, it was stated the CARES funding tripled the amount available for 2020-21.

To view the meeting agenda, click here.

The next State Board of Ed meeting will be held on January 12-13, 2022.