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Old 02-14-2019, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,707 posts, read 7,505,988 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAhippo View Post
not sure about the southern, more populated part of the state but in the less populated, school districts are thinned out about as much as they can be.

As it is, some students spend over an hour riding a bus to school and back.
Consolidating school districts does not mean you have to consolidate schools. The problem facing most of the school districts in most of Central and Western PA is declining enrollment. Something needs to change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilot1 View Post
I am very much for small government and local, home rule. I can go to a school board, or township meeting and have my voice heard. Not as much in Harrisburg, and certainly not in D.C. Smaller school districts are better.
Except that many small districts have trouble getting qualified people to serve on their boards. Many people serve on boards for selfish reasons like to get a relative hired, or to replace the current football coach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
I grew up in PA and taught in MD. The political structure here is very southern in design with the main form of local government being the county. School systems mirror that.

You might get rid of superintendents but the follow on bureaucracy in a county system is impenetrable.
My daughter has worked in two of the largest county school districts in Florida and confirms the bureaucracy. She says she has people coming in and out of her classroom and she doesn't know who they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
I can see the point of larger districts, but not county systems. As it is, our districts do use a lot of shared services like the Intermediate Units, Career and Tech Schools and consortiums for purchasing everything from health care for teachers and staff to energy.
I agree that not all districts should be in a county system. There are places that I'm aware of that should be consolidated. I can think of at least five areas in Western PA where buses must run through other districts to pick up their students. Most people don't understand the history of how school districts in PA were formed. Over a hundred years ago, cities, boroughs and townships made agreements to education their children.Sometimes these areas were separated by other districts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rowhomecity View Post

Teachers salary range from 60k - 100k+ depending on district.

So in terms of design outcome, Pennsylvania's current system seems to be winning.

I think the state in the future could offer a policy initiative to encourage school districts to consolidate. Any successful legislation in Pennsylvania though must be an opt in legislative model in terms of local government. Mandation is not a style Pennsylvania really takes well. For better. For worst.
There are districts in PA where the starting pay is around $30K.

The biggest issue with changes to school districts is how to handle debt. I'm aware of one district where a township wanted to switch districts and that township would've had to bring their portion of the debt with them. It didn't happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post

Pennsylvania school systems have been consolidating services for 50 years (the last big consolidation of school systems was about 1960 when the current 500 were created from something like 1500 previous ones), a couple of those were already mentioned.

One of the issues PA has is that the PA Department of Education can't really force school systems to do much. Maryland has a top down system and when MSDE says jump most of the school systems, especially the crappier ones, ask how high. Curriculum is standardized statewide as is the testing schedule and requirements for benchmark testing.
I went to school in a district that merged with another district in 1966. This was the last time the state mandated mergers and many took place in the 1960s. Woodland Hills was a different situation since it was ordered by a federal judge. There is a push right now in Fayette County to merge all districts into a county-wide district. OTOH, Blairsville-Saltsburg has been trying to separate into two districts for a number of years.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:49 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
36,662 posts, read 47,428,838 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpomp View Post
That is true. That particular poster gets a little carried away sometimes with their pro PA viewpoints.

PA is a much larger state with a lot more economic variances compared to Maryland. While the public schools in Southeastern PA might be the best in the nation, that won't matter on a statewide ranking if Northern PA and Western PA are below average.

That being said, PA public school system finishes in the middle of the pack in most metrics. However, the SEPA enclave (Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Bucks) have several nationally ranked districts.

And part of the the reason PA has a lot of school districts is due to the commonwealths designation of townships, boroughs, municipalities and zip-code coverage. Its a confusing system with mixed results. It works out tremendously for the upper middle class and wealthy areas of PA, but doesn't work out well for poor districts.

You have Radnor School District (one of the wealthiest top performing in the nation), and Chester-Upland one of the poorest and lowest performing in the nation a mere 20 minutes from each other, in the same county.

That being said, I think PA's district setup is smart, but the lack of funding for poor districts is a clear deterrent for those poor districts to improve. PA has always been a very polarized state when it comes to demographics, income, crime, schools, etc. But that will lead us off topic.
You have the same in county wide system, only it's more submerged. In my former system you'd have one wealthy, high performing attendance area (which in PA would have been a separate school system) and next to it would be one of the poorest attendance areas in the state with a bottom 3 performance.

You'd then add into the mix various federal court orders for integration (which were in effect until after 2000), which meant that kids had hour plus bus rides in some cases.

I will say that while I'm sure some PA systems have a lot of inefficiencies most of the districts are small enough that they're pretty apparent. Not so with many of the MD systems. I saw the same guy carrying a sheaf of papers from one office to another every time I went to the Central Office for over thirty years, including the day I dropped my retirement papers.

One time I went nuts at an in service, we had a guy there to train us on operating a VCR. That's all he did, go from school to school training people how to use a TV/VCR remote. I had to be taken out of the training by my department chair.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:54 PM
 
85 posts, read 83,832 times
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I work in a county school district. It covers a geographic area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

While there are pros and cons, I think the cons outweight the pros. Funding and teacher pay, in particular, are two big reasons.

I'm all for smaller school districts.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:43 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
5,018 posts, read 4,465,141 times
Reputation: 9769
I'm originally from NJ where every town, at least in the metro-NY area, is its own school district. Where I live in PA there are 4 districts in my entire county. So to me, PA doesn't seem to have very many school districts.


In fact, some folks who live in the southern part of my district wouldn't mind separating from the northern part of the district but that'll never happen.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:24 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
36,662 posts, read 47,428,838 times
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VillageIdiot,

Your daughter and unknown observers. We had one we named the Angel of Death. Whenever there was a school funding crisis, which was most of the time, she'd leave her Central Office office and visit schools where she'd randomly observe teachers, almost always the senior, highly paid, ones. Those teachers would get an Unsatisfactory observation from her and would be marked for intense supervision leading to removal. Lots of grievances over the years (keeping in mind Maryland is not the most union friendly state) which the school system lost in every case.

She eventually was made a Principal of a behavioral high school which imploded in one year. She was allowed to retire.
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Old 02-15-2019, 06:36 PM
Status: "Bricks" (set 17 days ago)
 
Location: Philadelphia
2,031 posts, read 1,140,552 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
Actually you're incorrect, Maryland ranks higher than Pennsylvania in every measure, here's one that's the most commonly accepted:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/reneemo.../#3e3495953897

Maryland has dropped from 2/3 the last few years.

Pennsylvania school systems have been consolidating services for 50 years (the last big consolidation of school systems was about 1960 when the current 500 were created from something like 1500 previous ones), a couple of those were already mentioned.

One of the issues PA has is that the PA Department of Education can't really force school systems to do much. Maryland has a top down system and when MSDE says jump most of the school systems, especially the crappier ones, ask how high. Curriculum is standardized statewide as is the testing schedule and requirements for benchmark testing.

Wallethub is not really a trusted source to be frank. They are always 'ranking' and most of their qualifiers are quite questionable and laughable. I would not use this as a reputable source.

Pennsylvania has always been regarded as a top public education state in the nation. And you can thank the strength of the educators union to that. Average teacher salary in PA is about 70k with some districts fetching 100k +.

School performance is most definitely top notch. Now I am not claiming every district in the state is amazing. But most are above average.

U.S News & World Report ranks us at 11. Maryland 13. Honestly a negligible difference. But we definitely are not middle of the pack in terms of education.


https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...cation/prek-12

The forum was in response to consolidation and I think yes insights can be gained from Maryland. But total adoption is not warranted.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:27 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
36,662 posts, read 47,428,838 times
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https://whyy.org/articles/much-teach...-pennsylvania/

This US News and World Report?. Yeah, Pennsylvania is 11. From the bottom.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...ings/education
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:32 PM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,707 posts, read 7,505,988 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rowhomecity View Post
Wallethub is not really a trusted source to be frank. They are always 'ranking' and most of their qualifiers are quite questionable and laughable. I would not use this as a reputable source.

Pennsylvania has always been regarded as a top public education state in the nation. And you can thank the strength of the educators union to that. Average teacher salary in PA is about 70k with some districts fetching 100k +.

School performance is most definitely top notch. Now I am not claiming every district in the state is amazing. But most are above average.

U.S News & World Report ranks us at 11. Maryland 13. Honestly a negligible difference. But we definitely are not middle of the pack in terms of education.


https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...cation/prek-12

The forum was in response to consolidation and I think yes insights can be gained from Maryland. But total adoption is not warranted.

I'm always skeptical of of state to state comparisons but one thing that stood out in the Wallethub ranking is that they have Florida two notches above Pennsylvania. My daughter went to school and college in PA, and now teaches in Florida. She feels Florida is much below Pennsylvania in school quality. She is in her 9th year of teaching in FL, in 3 elementary schools in two different districts.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:09 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
36,662 posts, read 47,428,838 times
Reputation: 47630
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
I'm always skeptical of of state to state comparisons but one thing that stood out in the Wallethub ranking is that they have Florida two notches above Pennsylvania. My daughter went to school and college in PA, and now teaches in Florida. She feels Florida is much below Pennsylvania in school quality. She is in her 9th year of teaching in FL, in 3 elementary schools in two different districts.
US News ranks Florida even higher. I've always been sceptical of these rankings, no matter the source (they're almost all based on US News) for a number of reasons.

The reality is that a couple large systems can skew results in either direction.

Lest anyone think I'm a Maryland booster, its high ranking, Education Week had it number 1 for years, was due more to its exit testing program and because the largest districts, we're talking ones with 80K+ students, require every student to take the SAT. So not a real valid ranking.

And the reality is that comparing states is almost impossible because each one has its own unique tests and requirements.
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:17 AM
 
810 posts, read 686,988 times
Reputation: 541
as a person who grew up in PA and went to a very small school (200 in my graduating class) I think small schools are far superior. The district we live in now is so huge has 6 high school, 8 middle schools and 39 elementary schools. Plus option schools.

Look at Erie with a single high school that is utterly ridiculous . The city I live in has a population close to Erie's. We are still dealing with some overcrowding but it has improved.

There are advantages and disadvantages in both guess it depends on what you are looking for. We have a pretty high property tax here in OR and NO sales tax.
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