BEF Hearings Underway (September 20, 2023)

The Basic Education Funding Commission launched a series of hearings this week to gather testimony to help improve the state’s basic education funding (BEF) system. The commission is comprised of three members of each party from both the House and Senate, as well as three members of the Shapiro administration.
Earlier this year, the funding system was declared unconstitutional by Commonwealth Court, and lawmakers were directed to develop a remedy with attention to adequacy, equity, and timeliness.
Hearings held in Allentown, Harrisburg and Philadelphia provided feedback from public school finance experts, education advocates and others. Additional hearings are planned over the next several weeks, concluding with one in Bedford in November.
For more information, or to submit comments to the commission or watch the hearings, visit

PA State Board of Ed. September Meeting Highlights Impactful Issues (September 13, 2023)

On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, the PA State Board of Education held its 376th meeting both in person and via virtual means. The meeting opened with a welcome to new Board members by Chairperson Karen Farmer White, which was followed by a report from Dr. Lee Williams on the Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee. Dr. Williams reported that the committee has held public meetings on updating standards that were presented to the Board in July 2023. She also said that other proposed Chapter 4 amendments include a shift of the PSSA Science tests to fourth grade. She also said that public testimony regarding Chapter 4 revisions has been obtained through hearings and in writing, and the deadline for the acceptance of any further testimony is the end of the month.

PA Ed. Sec. Khalid Mumin reported on PDE’s efforts to make visits throughout the state to promote education, STEAM programming, and to provide tech support to education entities. He also spoke about the $567M increase in the state’s education basic education funding (BEF) budget for 2023-24 and stated that PDE is awaiting the General Assembly passing bills to release funding. In addition, basic ed. funding meetings have begun across the state. He also highlighted the PA MASLOW program, which is a cross-agency partnership that aims to ensure that every student has access to postsecondary education through support and resources that help provide for their basic educational needs.

Deputy Ed. Sec. Dr. Kate Shaw then spoke of the state’s efforts to streamline the process to allow for swifter teacher certification. She also reported that 75% of CSPGs have been updated and that Chapter 354 focus groups will review questionnaire data obtained from LEAs.

Deputy Ed. Sec. Carrie Rowe informed the Board of new CTE Director Judd Pittman now being in place and talked about the state budget increases in the area of CTE. She also said that state assessment results will be released by the School Improvement Office in October, and a preliminary look at the data shows improved graduation rates from pre-pandemic levels, as well as slight improvement in all testing levels over last year. She was then joined by PDE BSE Director Carole Clancy to discuss the policy change whereby the commonwealth shall make FAPE available to a child with a disability eligible under IDEA until the student turns 22. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a child eligible under IDEA who attains the age of twenty-one (21) years may remain enrolled in their resident school district free of charge until their 22nd birthday.

Both Ms. Clancy and Dr. Mumin acknowledged the issues related to the timing and financial burdens felt by LEAs, but said that the state is legally obligated by federal law to make the change in eligibility for FAPE, particularly in light of at least 12 other states losing cases related such a change in policy. Ms. Clancy also stated that Acts 55 and 66 data supported such a change.

The next State Board of Ed. Meeting is scheduled for November 8-9, 2023.

PDH Receives $2 Million Federal Grant To Improve Student Health And Academic Achievement (September 10, 2023)

Students across the Commonwealth will benefit from a $2 million federal grant to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. Funding will be awarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) and Erie’s Public Schools through 2028 to create a template that other schools can adopt. 

Establishing healthy behaviors during childhood is easier and more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors during adulthood. Schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors. The WSCC model focuses on ten components that schools can emphasize as they see fit:

-Physical education and physical activity
-Nutrition environment and services
-Health education
-Social and emotional climate
-Physical environment
-Health services
-Counseling, psychological and social services
-Employee wellness
-Community involvement
-Family engagement 

In collaboration with several partners, PDH will offer statewide training, convene a statewide school health coalition, and support the implementation of WSCC in Erie’s Public Schools from 2023-2028. Erie was selected based on its size, demographics, and readiness to implement the program. Other districts will be able to take advantage of the free trainings and professional development opportunities that the grant will help develop and support.

Erie’s Public Schools will begin implementing the WSCC model in the 2023-2024 school year with the hiring of the district’s first wellness coordinator. Over the course of the next five school years, the district will revive its district wellness council, strengthen community partnerships, and annually assess and improve health policies, programs, practices, and curriculum in the areas of physical activity, school nutrition, school health services, and emotional well-being. PDH will collaborate with Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Division of Food and Nutrition Programs and Division of Instructional Quality; Slippery Rock University, School Wellness Education Program; Pennsylvania Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE PA); Pennsylvania Intermediate Units (IU); University of Pittsburgh, Office of Child Development; Erie City School District; and, Deanna Philpott, School Wellness Consultant from PA School Wellness to implement the required grant strategies.

PDE Unveils PA MASLOW Initiative To Support Postsecondary Students (September 10, 2023)

On September 5, 2023 the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) joined students, faculty, and advocates at Cedar Crest College to announce the launch of a new program to support Pennsylvania postsecondary students – PA MASLOW: A Hierarchy of Collegiate Basic Needs. PA MASLOW is a cross-agency partnership that expands upon the mission of PDE – ensuring every student not only has access to education, but that the education pursued provides them with support and resources to create optimal learning environments. This initiative will engage postsecondary institutions in several pillars of work, including: digital equity, housing and transportation, mental health, personal needs, adult student needs, and safety and belonging.

Collegiate Basic Needs are important at every institution of higher education across the Commonwealth, including public two- and four-year institutions, private, not-for-profit institutions, and business trade and technical schools. 

Students in higher education institutions throughout the Commonwealth and nation experience anxiety and other mental health issues, food insecurity, housing insecurity, sexual violence, and more. While PDE has existing programming that speaks to finding solutions to these needs, PA MASLOW will provide an opportunity to expand and scale this work, as well as collaboration among institutions of higher education. PA MASLOW is a comprehensive guide to supporting postsecondary students, translated from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs, which includes physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs. By addressing these basic needs in a more individualized approach, we can ensure that learners have everything they need to be successful and complete their credential.

To access PA MASLOW info from PDE, click here.