|State Reduces Mandated Testing for Students
In a win for Pennsylvania students, families and educators, mandated tests that are part of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) will be reduced by 20 percent for the upcoming 2017-18 academic year. This will allow teachers to better instruct their students in specific subjects rather than increasing the amount of classroom time preparing for mandated exams.
Specifically, the state Department of Education is removing two sections – one in math, one in English/language arts – and additional questions from the science section, which could eliminate up to two full testing days for some schools.
This change impacts students and teachers in grades three through eight, who will now spend an average of 20 percent less time on statewide testing.
In similar efforts, the House continues to look at all facets of education to ensure a quality, affordable education for Pennsylvania families. Within the past year, the House has spearheaded legislation to further invest in public schools, ensure greater effectiveness and accountability with the PSSA, bring needed reforms to charter schools, and enhance career and technical education.
Save for College with State 529 Plan
For families looking to plan for higher education, the Pennsylvania Treasury offers the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), in which growth is tied to the rate of college tuition inflation, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers 15 investment options by The Vanguard Group.
Contributions to PA 529 plans are deductible from Pennsylvania income taxes, grow tax free, and, when used for qualified educational expenses, are federal and state tax exempt. Both plans provide flexibility to pay for higher education expenses at most higher education institutions across the country.
The PA 529 GSP is designed to enable your savings to help keep pace with the rising costs of higher education. The PA 529 GSP contributions grow at the rate of tuition inflation but are subject to fees and premiums.
The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) is offering free enrollment – a $50 savings – for all new accounts opened before Sept. 30, at PA529.com. Use code “ROAE” or “SUMMER2017” when prompted.
Pennsylvania also offers a second 529 plan, the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options from The Vanguard Group. No enrollment fee is charged for the PA 529 IP.
Families may also enter for a chance to win $529 to get started at PA529.com/contest until Sept. 30.
$1 Fishing Licenses to be Offered on Labor Day
To encourage the love of fishing, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is offering two special fishing opportunities to fish on Labor Day, Sept. 4.
The first is a $1 license for adult residents and non-residents good for Labor Day only.
The second opportunity is the Mentored Youth Panfish Day. This provides youth anglers, who have obtained a free mentored youth permit or have purchased a voluntary youth license, an opportunity to fish on 19 Panfish Enhancement lakes. Panfish include bluegill, pumpkinseed and redear sunfish, which are collectively called sunfish; black and white crappies; and yellow perch.
The 19 lakes will be open to all anglers all day, but only mentored youth participants (adults and kids) may keep fish under the minimum size. Locally, Blue Marsh Reservoir is participating in the program. More information is available here.
To participate in the mentored youth program, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and be accompanied by a youth. Accompanying youth anglers must have either a free PFBC-issued permit or a purchase a voluntary youth fishing license. Both permits and licenses can be obtained at GoneFishingPA.com.
Fire, EMS Grant Program to Open Sept. 6
Fire companies and ambulance services throughout Pennsylvania are encouraged to apply for this year’s grant program from the Office of State Fire Commissioner. The application period will open on Sept. 6 and close on Oct. 20.
Grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction. The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services. Career ambulance companies can apply for the grants, so long as they are designated as a municipality’s primary EMS provider.
A total of $30 million will be awarded through the program, which is funded through state gaming proceeds.
For more information about the program, click here.