HARRISBURG – This week, the House Education Committee passed legislation which includes several important education reforms, according to Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), a member of the committee and author of one of the measures newly incorporated into the bill.
If signed into law, the bill would provide public schools with additional options to make up snow days in order to meet the requirement that school be kept open for 180 days. Among the options are counting school days in hours instead of days and rescheduling instructional days for one Saturday per month.
Additionally, the legislation was amended to include three important education reforms. Included in the bill is language found in House Bill 2124, authored by Grove, would reform the antiquated and outdated Planning and Construction Workbook process, also known as PlanCon. The legislation would reforms PlanCon into the Accountability and Reducing Costs in Construction Process (ARC Con). ARC Con streamlines the process from 11 steps into five steps, which allows school districts to save time and money in the application process. ARC Con also attempts to save costs by focusing on the rehabilitation of old buildings rather than new construction. The bill had previously passed the House this summer.
“The current PlanCon process involves 11 steps,” Grove said. “It is so antiquated that one of the steps involves submitting forms on microfilm, which was state-of-the-art technology in the 1920s. It is time to bring this process into the 21st century.”
Also amended into Senate Bill 1281 was the language found in House Bill 1411, also known as SchoolWATCH. The legislation, authored by Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), had previously passed the House in January. The legislation would require the state Department of Education to create the SchoolWATCH website, so that residents can easily find the budgets and expenditures of school districts. The website would include the annual financial statements of school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools and area vocational-technical schools, along with the final adopted budgets of public school entities.
Lastly, language found in House Bill 1801 was amended into the legislation. This bill, authored by Rep. Margo Davidson (D-Delaware), would allow telephone hotlines and internet notification systems developed by the Office of Safe Schools to be used by students to report dangerous situations involving schools. The reporting system would allow students to remain anonymous.
As a former member of the House Select Committee on School Safety and Security and an advocate of public accountability, Grove was pleased to see these reforms added to the Senate legislation.
“Sometimes, when bills linger in the other chamber, it may be more expedient to insert them into bills fast-tracked in the legislative process,” Grove said. “This helps ensure that many of the good policy ideas of the House make it to the governor for his signature.”
If approved by the full House, the amended bill will go to the Senate for concurrence.
~ News Release via Representative Seth Grove ~
~ 196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives ~