Education Week of 8/13-8/17 in Review
State budget provides $60 million school safety boost – By John Finnerty, The Daily Item
The 2018-19 Pennsylvania state budget includes $60 million more in state funding for school safety and security – a 700 percent increase over the $8.5 million provided last year.
The move arose out of a bipartisan recognition by lawmakers that the state needed to invest more in school safety, a group of senators who championed the funding said Wednesday in a phone briefing hosted by the Pennsylvania News Media Association.
“There is no more pressing issue,” than school safety, said state Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambria County. “Especially now as schools are getting ready to start up again for the new school year.”
About 20 percent of the new money will be divvied up by giving each of the state’s 500 school districts $25,000 to boost their school safety. Community violence prevention efforts will get $7.5 million. The remainder will be awarded to school districts under a formula devised by the Pennsylvania School Safety and Security Committee, overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
State Sen. James Brewster, D- Allegheny County, a member of the school safety committee, said it will likely be March before the money makes its way from Harrisburg to the local school districts.
He said lawmakers expect that before the grants are awarded, schools will be provided with guidance on what kind of safety and security improvements make sense. The school safety committee is supposed to set criteria for school safety assessments by the end of September.
Three Va. schools cancel varsity football, cite lack of interest – By Associated Press, published at WSET.com
Three Virginia high schools are canceling varsity football programs, citing a lack of interest.
Park View High School in Sterling canceled its varsity schedule after only 18 players reported for tryouts. Manassas Park High School Principal Pamela Kalso told parents Tuesday that they’ll play a junior varsity schedule after practices routinely drew only 15 players.
The Virginia High School League recommends against playing varsity football with fewer than 25 students.
The declines come amid concerns about injuries, rising equipment and participation costs and demographic shifts. The National Federation of State High School Associations says high school football enrollment dropped 4.5 percent nationwide from 2006 to 2016.
In Puerto Rico, new school year begins after Hurricane Maria, big changes to education system – By Nicole Acevedo, NBC News
Unlike the mainland U.S., the island's public education system mainly serves low-income communities; the majority of middle-income and upper-income families use parochial or private schools. On average, 70 to 80 percent of the student population at any given school live below the poverty line, according to numbers from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS). Students under the poverty line are almost three times more likely to drop out of school than a student living in a household above the poverty line.
Roughly half a million Puerto Ricans have left the island in the past 10 years following the crippling financial crisis, resulting in a drop to the student population.
In the months after Hurricane Maria, between September and January, schools lost 26,674 students, according to the Department of Education.
However, many are returning. According to the PRIS, 72,000 net passengers came back in the first four months of the year, suggesting the return process has begun for many families who fled the hurricane's aftermath. This includes around 6,000 students who came back to the school, according to Keleher.
Public schools are starting the semester with 305,000 students and 23,000 teachers, according to the Education Department; in 2017, enrollment was at 346,096. Despite Hurricane Maria's effects on student numbers, Keleher said schools had already been seeing a drop of about 20,000 students a year.