Highlights from the omnibus school code bill

The Omnibus school code bill which passed as part of the budget revenue package contains a number of provisions which will have an impact in your district. Here are some of the highlights. The bill delays implementation of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement for another year; now out to the 2019-2020 school year. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, school board members and charter school trustees must receive 4 hours of training upon election and 2 hours of training upon reelection. Next, the bill changes the date of the required board action on a superintendent or assistant superintendent's contract from 150 days prior to expiration of the contract to 90 days prior to expiration of the contract.

Somewhat surprisingly, the bill includes a provision which allows school entities to furlough professional employees for economic reasons.  School districts, however, must also furlough an equal percentage of administrative staff. Next, the bill requires school boards to establish a requirement that a school food program meal is provided to every student who requests one regardless of whether they can pay or owes money; boards must prohibit schools from publically identifying or stigmatizing a student who cannot pay or who owes money for school meals in what is called “lunch shaming.”

Another provision requires schools to include information about opioid and prescription drug abuse and prevention in their drug abuse programming education for grades 6-12, beginning with the 2018-19 school year. Finally, the PlanCon Moratorium is extended through the 2017-2018 fiscal year and the bill prohibits PDE from accepting or approving new PlanCon applications for new projects, and tax credits available to business firms for their donations under the EITC/OSTC programs are increased. 

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