PenSPRA News
Budget update
We are three days away from the 2016 - 2017 budget deadline and negotiations have been underway. Recent sticking points have been on spending, with Republicans approving a 5% increase and Democrats requesting 6%.  
Mandate bonanza
It is often repeated that public schools are faced with “unfunded mandates,” but sometimes public school advocates are not able to explain what those mandates are. PSBA has compiled a comprehensive list of mandates our schools are regulated by, which might be helpful in your work. If you rattled off this mandate bonanza, you could silence the most vocal critic. 
EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program
The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) is currently accepting applications for the Education Policy Fellowship Program. The Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) is a professional development program for individuals whose work record reflects strong leadership abilities and a concern for issues important to children and education. 
Articles requested
Have a little time now that the school year is over? The Pennsylvania Principals Association is seeking articles for the September 2016 issue of The Pennsylvania Administrator magazine.  
News from around the state and nation June 28, 2016
This is a roundup of educational news from around the state and nation, from possible later start times in Chester County, to a new start for pension reform to two districts sharing one superintendent as a cost savings measure. 
Speech writing thought joggers
Many of you are probably staring at your computer these days, beating down writers block, vainly trying to think of something different to say for a speech for this year’s retirement reception, graduation or other end of year event. Read on for a list of some quotes that may trip a new idea for you, or serve as a base for a speech. The first group are retirement related and the remainder are graduation related or general. Happy writing! 
Got absences? Not after this PR campaign
A school district in Grand Rapids Michigan cut chronic abseentism in half, returning thousands of students to the classroom, with this “Less than 5! Strive for 5!” community engagement program. This is a powerful example of how communications and PR can have a direct impact on learning. 
More educations stats than you could ever use
If you are ever in need of an education statistic, you can find it at the National Center for Education Statistics. It is a helpful reference to have bookmarked on your computer for when someone asks you a question like, “How many kids attend public schools in America?’ (50.1 million) 
News from around the state and nation June 3, 2016
This is a roundup of education stories making news around the state and nation, from progress for PA’s school funding formula, to elementary report cards getting a bad grade from parents to a Kentucky superintendent who let no student drop out of his district. 
Brand is more than a logo
Our next summary of our Symposium speakers is on Vaughn Shinkus’ presentation “Capitalize on content to build a compelling brand narrative.” Most of Mr. Shinkus’ work is in helping organizations build traffic via electronic means, and he shared many helpful tips we can use at the district level. 
Education writers report
There is a national organization for Education reporters called the Education Writers Association, or EWA, and they recently did a survey of their members and the field of education reporting.   
News from around the state and nation May 10, 2016
This is a roundup of the education stories making headlines around the state and nation from students lobbying for later school start times to what the new ESSA rules mean for kids to a bill that guarantees funding for schools during a budget crisis. 
Symposium Summary
It was a great day of professional development and friendly school PR chat in Shippensburg at our annual Symposium! For those of you who could not attend or follow live on twitter, or would just like notes, we will summarize the presentations in the next few issues of e-Comm. The three presentations are also posted on the members’ only page of our website. As always, if you have trouble logging into this page, please contact Karen.
 
News from around the state and nation April 18th, 2016
This is a roundup of education stories making headlines around the state and nation, from a bill to assist PA school districts during future budget crisis, to a proposed transgender policy, to the latest on ESSA. 
Communications Contest Winners Announced!
The 2015 Excellence in Education Communication Contest winners have been announced.   
Proposed changes to immunization requirements
The Department of Health and the Department of Education are proposing changes to immunization requirements which are likely to go into effect for the 2016-2017 school year.  
News from around the state and nation, March 4th 2016
Here is a roundup of educations stories making news around the state and nation; from a statewide bullying protection hotline to proposed legislation requiring training for school board members to the real meaning of "grit" in the classroom. 
PenSPRA's Super Season
The Superbowl may be over, but it is the Super busy season here at PenSPRA; that time of year when most of our activities are in high gear. 
Budget questions remain unanswered after Governor’s address
The announcement of the Governor’s budget is typically a highly anticipated event for schools, but for school employees looking for answers about the current year budget, this year's address raised more questions than it answered. The most important question, of course, remains - When will we have a budget for this year? - and that answer was not forthcoming in the speech. 
Take another look at your visuals
We have all heard that we live in an increasingly visual world, but did you know some of these fun facts behind “the power of visual content?"  Perhaps this data will help you make a case with colleagues who prefer to use text predominately in your communication efforts: 
7 PR trends to know
We may not have the budget or resources of multi-million dollar corporations, but we still have to compete for our stakeholder’s attention against the PR and marketing departments of these huge corporations. Here is a list of current PR trends; can you adapt any of these to your district and your work? 
News from around the state and nation February 12th, 2016
Here is a roundup of education stories making headlines around the state and nation: online PARCC exam test takers scored lower than pencil and paper testers, more college admissions officers are checking applicants social media profiles and a Maryland district has added Hindu and Muslim holidays to the calendar. 
Make a date with us on April 8th
The Symposium Committee has been hard at work putting together a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends.
 
Demonstrate your value
Demonstrate your value with our annual Excellence in Education Communications Contest. Awards of Excellence and Awards of Honor are given in 12 categories. Our new online platform is easy to use and all entries receive judges’ feedback. 
 
Learn more about TCPA – the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Did you know that changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) could impact how your district sends automated messages to your parents and communities? The changes made some automated calls and texts to cell phones illegal, unless the calls are deemed “emergency” calls. Some lawyers have counseled that as long as there is written consent districts are safe to make the calls and others have counseled that all district calls are “emergency” calls. Which is correct? 
Membership directory now available
The PenSPRA membership directory is now available on the members only page of the PenSPRA website. If there are any corrections needed to your entry or if you have misplaced your log-in information for the members only section, please contact us. 
News around the state and nation January 26th, 2016
Here is a roundup of educations stories making news around the state and nation: the Keystone exams are one signature away from being delayed by 2 years, our budget is in the twilight zone and a new study may be the proof liberal arts colleges need.  
Introducing our Symposium speakers

The Symposium Committee has been hard at work putting together a powerhouse line-up of speakers and topics for a captivating day of professional development in Shippensburg on April 8th. Learn to master data to defeat your critics, use stories to clarify your brand and take your social media efforts to the next level with a better understanding of metrics and the newest trends. Click on the button on the left for all the details.

 
Communications Contest now open!

Demonstrate your value with our annual Excellence in Education Communications Contest. Awards of Excellence and Awards of Honor are given in 12 categories. Our new online platform is easy to use and all entries receive judges’ feedback. The deadline is February 29th and payment is by check only. Click on the link on the left for all the details.

 
A half a budget is better than no budget!
The holiday break brought no relief to the political games surrounding our state budget, but the Governor has released emergency funding which is a welcome relief to schools and social service organizations across the state.  
Before we dance in the ESEA end zone...
The passage of the reauthorization of ESEA and the reduction of some federal controls is generally being heralded as positive news by local school district. NSPRA President Rich Bagin has some words of advice for us at this time though 
News around the state and nation January 7th, 2016

Here is a roundup of education stories making news from around the state and nation: Are charter schools the (next) Big Short? What are these community school authorized by ESEA, and could the right-to-work case before the CA Supreme Court have national implications?

 
Budget and referendum update
Will Rudolph and his red nose bring us a budget this year?  This budget has already gone down in history, but an approval before the new year surely would bring glee to many school districts! 
ESEA moving forward
A final draft of ESEA, or the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind, has been finalized and is expected to be voted on by Congress soon. 
Eastern region meeting
Join us for an afternoon of professional development and a social hour Thursday, December 10th from 1 pm to 5 pm. 
The PenSPRA Symposium
The Symposium committee has been hard at work planning our annual Symposium. If you haven’t already done so, save Friday, April 8th on your calendar for a great day of professional development.  
News around the state and nation December 8th, 2015
Here is a roundup of some of the education stories making news around the state and nation, from legislation that allows furloughing teachers for economic reasons, to seniors getting tax breaks for volunteering in schools to Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg donating billions for personalized learning initiatives. 
Referendum rears its ugly head
We have been eagerly awaiting progress on the budget, but this week’s news included a surprising new twist, with a referendum amendment added to the budget package. This amendment to Act One would remove a local school district's ability to raise taxes without a voter referendum. 
 
Math class...for parents
More than any other aspect of the common core, elementary math raises many questions with parents. Some parents even find themselves stumped and frustrated by second and third grade math. One district invested some time in creating a math class for parents, which was very well received.  
Got new board members?

This is a silly question because after the 2015 elections, the vast majority of districts likely have at least one new board member and maybe as many as 5. PSBA is offering new board member training at several locations around the state over the next two months.

 
The when of posting

Likely you could figure out that posting on social media between midnight and 6 am is a dead time, but did you know 9 am to 5 pm is a slow time for Linkedin? A recent study of several social media outlets has some surprising results of when to post, or when not to post!

 
News from around the state and nation Nov. 11, 2015
Here is a roundup of some of the educational stories making news around the state and nation, from tighter vaccine requirements, to the substitute teacher shortage to changes in the PA Supreme Court. 
Symposium save the date
The PenSPRA Executive board met last week and we are proud to announce a date and location for our spring Symposium. 
Budget shenanigans
Surprise! We still have no budget here in Pennsylvania and schools and social agencies get increasingly worried as the days pass and blame shuffles from side to side in Harrisburg but no budget appears. 
Audit critcizes dept of ed
The Pennsylvania educational system made national news with the release of an audit by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. 
PSSA tweets from PDE
PDE has created some tweets that may be of use in communicating about this year’s PSSA scores.  
Budget broken record
Our newsletter is beginning to appear to be a bit of a broken record, with repeated stories about the budget that all say the same thing: Pennsylvania is still without a budget. Of course, it remains a very important and real story to school districts and social service organizations in particular. 
Changes in store for the SPP score
Education Secretary Pedro Rivera commented last week that he is working towards a “more holistic SPP score.” 
Twitter tips
Technology is changing so quickly it is really difficult to keep up. Twitter has been around for a few years now, but if you aren’t a regular Twitter user, maybe you have missed out on some Twitter tactics. One way to increase your use of twitter is to get involved in a Twitter chat. 
PSSA scores out of SPP rankings for this year
Pennsylvania requested a waiver from the US Department of Education for the 2014-2015 PSSA scores, due to the increased difficulty of the tests. The waiver was granted, and as a result, elementary and middle schools will not receive an SPP score for this year. 
Survey on social media and electronic communication use in schools
NSPRA performed a survey on electronic communication and social media use in schools. Read on for the top ten takeaways from the survey: 
News from around the state and nation Sept. 10, 2015
Here is a roundup of educational stories making news around the state and nation. 
Back-to-School Standouts
Students are headed back to class across the state and we are all excited to welcome them back. We wish you a smooth start to your school year. To help share the spirit, here are two fantastic back-to-school videos done by a couple of districts around the country. 
PDK/Gallup public opinion poll on public schools
For over 40 years, Phi Delta Kappa and the Gallup organization have coordinated on an annual poll on the American public’s views on education. This year’s results are out and as always provide us with some interesting feedback to use in our work. Once again local schools receive higher marks than the nation’s schools overall, and new this year we discover that 64% of Americans believe there is too much standardized testing in our schools. 
News from around the state and nation Aug 26, 2015
Here are some additional education new stories; a new app for school buses, the proposed stacked hybrid pension plan and PA’s tripled opt out rate are just a few of the education stories making headlines this week. 
ESEA moving forward; opt out provision included
The re-authorization of ESEA, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is finally moving forward. Both the Senate and the House have now passed a version of the bill, and the bills are moving forward to the conference process.  
PSSA results may require careful reporting
The PSSA’s were revised last year and the difficulty level was noticeably increased. Many educators and commentators predicted a drop in scores due to the changes in the tests and early reports of the soon-to-be-released scores indicate a significant drop. 
No progress on state budget
Here is the latest on the situation with the state budget.  
Member request/Member mentions
Questions and kudos from and about PenSPRA members 
NAEP Scores Released
Is it 36% or 78%... or both? 
Facebook and Twitter
New! Like "PenSPRA" on Facebook and follow us at "penspra1" on twitter.
 
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