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Education - Bensalem Township

We Cannot Truly Address Racial Injustice in Pa. without Fixing our Unfair Public School Funding System

The following Op-ed was jointly written by the following members of the PA House Democratic Caucus leadership team: Rep. Matt Bradford (Democratic Appropriations Chair), Rep. Jordan Harris (Democratic Whip), and Rep. Frank Dermody (Minority Leader).

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Op- ed submitted to Lower Bucks Source ‘Voice of the People’ section 

For the last three weeks, many in our country have had their consciousness awakened to long-standing fundamental inequities disproportionately impacting communities and people of color. In the wake of the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, and in the midst of a global pandemic, we have all been called to acknowledge and confront systemic racism. In Pennsylvania, the Legislative Black Caucus courageously advanced the policy conversation by demanding votes on languished police reforms, but the conversation cannot end there. We must have an open and honest conversation to address the racial and socioeconomic inequities and injustices in our public school system.

 

It has been over 66 years since the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional, based upon the belief that separate schools provided for unequal access to education and opportunity. Despite this ruling, racial and economic segregation persist in public education throughout the nation. Pennsylvania is no exception. The commonwealth ranks 44th in the nation in terms of its investment in education, paying only 38 percent of the cost of education on average. The responsibility to fund education is left to local communities that have vastly different abilities to raise necessary dollars.

Consider these examples of local taxing capacity per weighted student – an element of the Fair Funding Formula – of neighboring school districts. If taxing at the same rate, Lower Merion School District would raise $32,441 per student, while Philadelphia School District and Norristown Area School District would only raise $3,685 and $7,505, respectively. In Lehigh County, Parkland School District would receive $13,260 per student at the same time that Allentown City School District would only generate $2,626. Across the state in Allegheny County, Montour School District would generate $14,805 per student while Sto-Rox School District only could expect $2,671.

White student enrollment constitutes 14 percent of Philadelphia School District, 15 percent of Norristown Area School District, 9 percent of Allentown City SD, and 28 percent of Sto-Rox School District. On the other hand, white student enrollment hits 70 percent in Lower Merion School District, 64 percent in Parkland School District, and 85 percent in Montour School District. The state and federal funding added to the mix in these poorer, more racially diverse districts does little to level the playing field. In aggregate, Pennsylvania’s wealthiest 100 school districts spend $5,284, or 48 percent, more per weighted student than the least advantaged 100 school districts.

Starting with less – less education, less access, less income, less opportunity – makes the future that much harder. The pandemic has painted it in stark contrast. Some students were almost immediately connected to their teachers through technology, while others were working with photocopied worksheets. Money matters in education. When we address the systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities of our funding mechanisms, we will make real progress toward closing the achievement gap, where on average, white students score nearly two grade levels higher than black students. Along the way, we need to diversify Pennsylvania’s 96 percent white educator workforce – the least diverse in the country.

We can combat these inequities and improve upon our near last ranking by increasing the state’s investments in education – something we failed to do in the recently passed stop-gap budget. The Fair Funding Formula is the right vehicle, but it is only as good as the amount of funding running through it – currently just 11.2 percent. That is like having a membership to a state-of-the-art gym and going twice a year.

The culprit preventing every school district from receiving its fair share is a policy commonly called hold-harmless, which is really a misnomer. For many communities of color, the effect is ‘hold-harmed.’ This policy guarantees a base amount for each school district, baking in the inequitable distributions of the past. If ‘hold-harmed’ was eliminated, Norristown would receive an additional $16 million, Philadelphia – an additional $402 million, Allentown – an additional $87 million, and Sto-Rox – an additional $3 million. What makes all of this even worse is that the stop gap budget set up a dangerous precedent of another year of ‘hold-harmed’ further exacerbating this longstanding unfair funding structure.

It is time to address these inequities once and for all. The Pennsylvania legislature must start by getting to work to pass a full budget that prioritizes a quality education for all children, regardless of their race or zip code. The only way forward is to put the politics and the partisanship aside and work together to create a better Pennsylvania for everyone.

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 The above  was jointly written by the following members of the PA House Democratic Caucus leadership team: Rep. Matt Bradford (Democratic Appropriations Chair), Rep. Jordan Harris (Democratic Whip), and Rep. Frank Dermody (Minority Leader) 

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Education - Bensalem Township

Scholarship for Foundation A. Marlyn Moyer, Jr. Application Deadline Extended

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The deadline for submitted applications to the A. Marlyn Moyer, Jr. Scholarship Foundation has been extended to July 6, 2024, said foundation officials.

The A. Marlyn Moyer, Jr. Scholarship Foundation announced it will grant several partial scholarships for studies at colleges, universities, technical schools, nursing schools, and other accredited post-secondary institutions during the 2024-2025 academic year.

To be eligible, said a foundation spokesperson in the release, an applicant needs to meet the following requirements:

  •  graduating high school seniors or other persons enrolling full time in post-secondary schools for the first time.
  • resident of Bucks County
  • academically well qualified for the school they plan to attend
  • have a record of involvement in school, community, religious and/or other activities (especially as a leader)
  • have been involved in giving service to others
  • have a financial need.  (Gainful employment may be considered as a substitute for extensive involvement in leadership and service activities.)

Application forms may be obtained by emailing a request to scholarship@ammoyerfoundation.com or mailing it to the A. Marlyn Moyer, Jr. Scholarship Foundation, PO Box 511, Fairless Hills, PA 19030.

Questions can be directed to the email address scholarship@ammoyerfoundation.com.

Completed applications must be emailed or arrive by July 6, 2024.  From among the applications, the Foundation will select those best qualified for scholarships in July and winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Typically, six to eight scholarships are awarded averaging between $2,500 to $5,000 dollars.

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Education - Bensalem Township

UPDATED Spring/Summer 2024 Events at SLNC

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UPDATED Spring – Summer 2024 Events at Silver Lake Nature Center  

This Just In!! “Baby Shower for the SLNC Purple Martins!” Saturday, June 8th, 11am-12pm. Join us in celebrating AND learning about the soon-to-be hatched baby Purple Martin birds! **If you have binoculars, bring them!**

Learn more about the interesting structure that was recently installed for these beautiful birds at https://silverlakenaturecenter.org/purple-martins-at-slnc/ . This project was spearheaded by SLNC Volunteer & Birder Extraordinaire, Dawn Denner, and funded by donations from members of the Bucks County Birders and other generous individuals.

This event is FREE but donations to the nonprofit Friends of SLNC are greatly appreciated. Funds go toward projects/programs like this as well as other educational and conservation endeavors.

Your participation & support is appreciated! To make a donation, please visit: https://silverlakenaturecenter.org/donate/ AND reference this event in the comments section. Thank you.

To sign up for this event, please visit https://silverlakenaturecenter.org/event/purple-martins-baby-shower-6-8-24/ 

Event will take place at the SLNC Earthship, located at 1006 Bath Rd., Bristol, PA 19007. There is a gravel parking lot at this location, and an Accessible Trail to the SLNC Earthship.

Tookany Creek Bluegrass Band is returning to SLNC for another awesome Concert on Saturday, June 22nd at 7:30pm!!

Don’t miss out on this fun time!! Advance tickets are $15/person; at the door, $20/person (price is the same for all ages, no refunds/exchanges). Tickets/info at: https://silverlakenaturecenter.org/event/tookany-creek-bluegrass-band-concert-6-22-24/ 

Volunteer Work Days. Join us on the first Saturday of each month, from 9am to 12pm: 7/6; 8/3; 9/7, to help keep the beautiful SLNC Trails/Grounds so beautiful. Be prepared to get wet and dirty. Bring a refillable water bottle. Register at www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org

Invasive Plant Removal Volunteer Project Day. Saturdays: 6/15; 7/20; 8/17; 9/21, 10am-12pm. The “Invasive Plants Removal (IPR) Team” meets once a month to help clear Invasive Plants from specific  areas on the SLNC Grounds/Trails. Each season brings new plants in various degrees of difficulty, and will also serve as a learning opportunity! These Project Days often also involve planting native plants and trees. Register at www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org or call 215-785-1177.

 Earthship Tours. Stop by to visit and learn about these interesting, sustainable structures!  Tours are FREE, but donations to the nonprofit Friends of SLNC are greatly appreciated. The SLNC Earthship is scheduled to be open to the public for FREE Tours on the following Saturdays: 6/15; 7/20; 8/17; 9/21, from 1pm to 2:30pm. Register at www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org

 Registration for SLNC’s Summer Camp is OPEN!! This Camp fills up quickly. Early registration is recommended. SLNC’s awesome Summer Nature Camp runs for 10 weeks, from June 17th through August 23rd! Sign up for as many weeks as you’d like (as availability allows). Visit https://silverlakenaturecenter.org/education/summer-camp/ for info/registration. 

Family-friendly Kindness Rock Garden Series. Saturdays: June 22nd; July 20th; August 17th, 10:30am-12pm. Families & Individuals are welcome to join SLNC & the Kiwanis of Levittown-Bristol to help us grow our Garden of Kindness!  We will be painting, so please feel free to wear a smock, apron, or old shirt. This special series is Sponsored by the Kiwanis of Levittown-Bristol and is FREE to participants. Space is limited, pre-registration required. Register at www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org or call 215-785-1177.

Bird Seed Sales. Bird watching is more fun when you can attract them to your own yard, so fill your feeders with one of our special mixes. Friends of SLNC Members receive a 10% discount on all Orders. Bird Seed Sales are offered four times throughout the year. The next one is coming up on Saturday, 10/19 (for Orders placed by 10/10) BUT in the meantime, we still have some Bird Seed available for drop-ins! Visit www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org for info and/or to place an Order. 

Trails are open daily, from Sunrise to Sunset. SLNC Visitors’ Center is open, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10am-5pm & Sundays, Noon-5pm. 

Credit: Laughs for Recovery

The Silver Lake Nature Center, where learning comes naturally, is a 264-acre Nature Preserve located in Bristol Township, Bucks County. It is a facility of the Bucks County Department of Parks & Recreation with additional funding and staffing provided by the Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center nonprofit organization. SLNC is home to over 40 plant and animal species listed as rare, threatened, or endangered in Pennsylvania. Participation in programs helps protect these species and their habitats. SLNC does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its programs, activities, or facilities. People with special needs are asked to give advance notice.

The Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation was established in 1953. The Department is responsible for the acquisition, development, and preservation of open space and regional parks. The Department seeks in every endeavor to improve the quality of life and environment for all Bucks County residents, by working to enhance existing and projected recreational and cultural needs for our County.

 For information about these and the other programs offered at Silver Lake Nature Center, call 215-785-1177 or visit the website at www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org.

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Education - Bensalem Township

School Safety and Security Grants Approved for Local Schools

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The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency announced it approved $47 million in competitive school safety and security grants to improve safety, security, and mental health supports for students and staff at schools across the Commonwealth.

The announced awards complete the $155 million school safety grants program package appropriated in the bipartisan 2023-24 budget and issued by the School Safety and Security Committee in January, said State Representative Jim Prokopiak.

In our area, rep. Prokopiak said, the grants awarded were:

  • Pennsbury School District, $271,909
  • Morrisville Borough School District, $141,796
  • Neshaminy School District, $264,659
  • Bucks County Montessori Charter School, $70,000
  • Bucks County Technical High School, $70,000
  • Center for Student Learning CS at Pennsbury, $70,000
  •  Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, $75,000
  • Holy Family Regional Catholic School, $75,000
  • Hope Lutheran School, $37,350
  • Credit: Laughs for Recovery

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