PDE: $1.5 Million in Grants Now Available for IHEs to Attract More Special Ed. Teachers March 22, 2023)

According to PennWatch, on March 21, 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced $1.5 million in grant funding is being made available to institutions of higher education (IHE) that partner with school districts to expedite the process to become a special education teacher.

The Accelerated Program for PK-12 Special Education Teacher Certification will provide grants to IHEs that have approved PK-12 special education certification programs and who partner with at least one LEA to provide those who currently hold bachelor’s degrees with summer field experiences, mentoring by experienced special educators during the school year, and deliver a postbaccalaureate program for PK-12 special education teacher certification within 18 months.

Programs must offer most of the coursework during summer 2023 and summer 2024; provide a combination of in-person and virtual options for flexibility and support to the accelerated program participants working full-time; and ensure a minimum of 12 weeks of student teaching.

The maximum grant award for an IHE is $100,000. Grant funds will be available through December 31, 2024.

Interested IHEs must apply by April 7, 2023 through the Attract-Prepare-Retain (APR) Repository.

A webinar will be held today (3/22/23) from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Sessions will be recorded and made available on the APR Repository for those unable to atttend.

Source: PennWatch.

To read the full PennWatch article, click here.

Bills to Require AEDs and CPR Training in Schools Introduced in PA Senate (March 19, 2023)

On March 16, 2023 two bills, Senate Bill 512 and Senate Bill 513, were introduced in the PA Senate that would require that each school, as well as other places where school activities occur, have at least one centrally located Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

The proposed legislation would also require all coaches in after-school programs to be certified to perform CPR and that schools must have emergency response teams and response plans for a sudden cardiac arrest. Click here for full article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

PDE: More Than 23 Million Breakfasts Served To Students Through The Free School Breakfast Program (March 15, 2023)

On March 15, 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that since its implementation, the Free School Breakfast Program has served more than 23 million breakfasts to students across the Commonwealth.
“Research shows that when students get proper nutrition, they are both physically and mentally prepared to learn and therefore, perform better in school,” said Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “By continuing to offer free breakfast to all students, we are fueling healthy minds and bodies while reducing stigma related to food insecurity in our schools.”
Last week in his budget address, Governor Josh Shapiro highlighted the importance of the program and proposed $38.5 million in funding to continue providing universal free breakfast through the 2023-24 school year. Rather than a one-time influx, Governor Shapiro’s proposal provides ongoing, sustainable state funding for free breakfast in the years to come, because students learn and grow better on a full stomach. The Governor’s budget proposal would also allow students who qualify for reduced meals to receive lunch at no cost.
Under the program, PDE will use the existing meal reimbursement program to pay schools for the difference between the free federal reimbursement and paid or reduced-price meal reimbursement so that no student has an out-of-pocket cost for a reimbursable breakfast and students eligible for reduced lunch can receive a school lunch at no cost to their families. Reimbursement applies only to standard breakfast and lunch served at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

Interested schools that do not currently participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs can find information for applying on PDE’s website.
The Free School Breakfast Program ensures that all students have access to a healthy, nutritious meal to start the school day and eliminates the stigma associated with free and reduced-price breakfast that may deter eligible students from participating.

On average, more than 455,000 free breakfasts are served each day in Pennsylvania schools. There are 3,129 schools that participate in the program, serving more than 1.6 million students. Since the program began, school breakfast participation is up overall, with participation doubling among students who would usually have to pay full price.

According to the School Nutrition Association, students who eat breakfast are more likely to reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math, score higher on standardized tests, have better concentration and memory, and be more alert and maintain a healthy weight.

Gov. Highlights Plans to Rebuild Workforce, Recruit More Teachers into PA Classrooms (March 15, 2023)

On March 15, 2023, Governor Shapiro highlighted his plan to give new teachers a personal income tax credit of up to $2,500 a year for three years to encourage new teachers to join the profession and ease the burden on existing teachers.

Last week, the Governor unveiled his budget, which proposes a refundable tax credit of up to $2,500 every year for up to three years for anyone who earns a new license or certification in education, nursing, or law enforcement, or for anyone who already has a license in those fields and decides to move to Pennsylvania for work. In total, the budget includes an investment of $24.7 million in job retention and recruitment efforts to specifically attract more of these critically needed workers.

To help ensure every Pennsylvania student has access to a quality education, Governor Shapiro’s budget includes an increase of $567.4 million, or 7.8 percent, for basic education funding, in addition to targeted support to help students learn and grow. The Governor’s inaugural budget provides:
-$38.5 million for universal free breakfast for all Pennsylvania students, regardless of income, so that all students have access to a healthy, nutritious meal to start the school day.
-$500 million over the next 5 years to reduce and remediate environmental hazards in schools to ensure more children will have the opportunity to grow and learn in healthy settings.
-$500 million over the next five years so that schools can fund mental health counselors and services on site, because our students’ mental health is just as important as their physical health.

Learn more about Governor Shapiro’s budget and plans for rebuilding our education workforce here.

New CTE Program Available to Prepare Students to Become Educators (March 11, 2023)

On March 10, 2023 Lee Burket, Ed.D., Director, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, sent a PennLink to all LEAs titled New CTE Program Available to Prepare Students to Become Educators. The memo states that a new career and technical education program in General Education is now available for the 2023-24 school year.

Below are instructions for how school districts, charter schools, and career and technical centers (CTCs) can apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for approval to offer the program beginning next school year.

Program Overview
The General Education program is designed to engage and prepare secondary students interested in pursuing education careers. The program has been added as Classification of Instruction Program (CIP) “13.0101, General Education” in the list of eligible CTE programs.

In November 2022, the Bureau of Career and Technical Education worked with PDE’s Committee on Education Talent Recruitment to develop the blended competency task list for the program. The General Education Task List is posted on the Department’s website.

Program Approval
Schools may apply now for program approval through MyPDESuite.

BCTE also will host a virtual meeting at 10:00 AM on March 17, 2023 to explain the approval process for the new General Education program and all other eligible programs. Attendees may use the following link to attend: Program Approval TEAMS Meeting. Prior registration is not required.

Questions, should be directed to Jean Kelleher at (717) 783-6962 or jekelleher@pa.gov.