Archive for the ‘Government or School Matters’ Category

The Clock is Ticking – Obligate ARPA Funds Before the Deadline

access_time Posted on: February 15th, 2024

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has provided many local governments with a financial boost to tackle the challenges the pandemic presented. However, with the deadline to obligate these funds less than a year away, municipalities must be mindful of the time limitations associated with the funds to ensure optimal utilization for their community’s benefit. Local governments have until December 31, 2024, to obligate all received ARPA funds. This means the governing bodies of municipalities must allocate the funds to specific projects, programs, or initiatives before this date to avoid loss of funds. Under the Final Rule, failure to meet this… read more »

Social Media, School Boards, and the Supreme Court

access_time Posted on: November 2nd, 2023

Social media is one of the fastest ways to deliver information to a large group of people. Occasionally on social media, it is common to “block” people so that you do not have to see their posts and vice versa. However, when a public official blocks someone and prevents them from receiving information—is this a violation of their First Amendment rights? This November the Supreme Court must determine if public officials engaging in “state action” are constitutionally permitted to block certain parents from their social media accounts used to promote school policies and provide general information to others[1]. Depending on… read more »

The Future of EMS Service in Pennsylvania

access_time Posted on: August 28th, 2023

The Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Act (the “Act”) gives municipal authorities in Pennsylvania the ability to do a number of things, including the authority to provide water service, sewer service, and storm water management; the power to operate incinerator plants and landfills; and operate several kinds of public transportation networks. One item not found on the list of items that a municipal authority can do is operate an emergency medical services (EMS) provider. Over the last several years, many municipalities have seen a precipitous drop in the number of volunteers that have traditionally provided both fire and EMS services to these… read more »

Do Your Constituents have the Right-to-Know what You Post on Social Media?

access_time Posted on: August 28th, 2023

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with constituents. However, the expansion of public discussion through social media encourages an expanded application of the Right-To-Know Law. In an April 2023 case, Penncrest School District v. Cagle, the Commonwealth Court attempted to clarify when a public official’s social media activity would be subject to disclosure. The new test limits the applicability of the Law to social media activity but does not settle the matter, so future litigation will likely clarify the test. The Right-To-Know Law is “designed to promote access to official government information in order to prohibit secrets, scrutinize… read more »

Parking Enforcement in Municipalities

access_time Posted on: August 28th, 2023

When it comes to parking enforcement and restriction in local municipalities, decisions fall on the shoulders of the municipality’s leaders. Under the U.S. Constitution, it is within a municipality’s police powers to enact new ordinances to enforce parking and safety measures. When determining whether a new ordinance is lawful, the ordinance must pass the rational basis test [1]. To pass this rational basis test, there must be both 1) a legitimate governmental interest; and 2) the ordinance must achieve the governmental interest in a reasonable manner. In addition to the use of parking meters in company with signs providing notice… read more »

Employee Engagement is Important for Local Government Employers Too

access_time Posted on: August 28th, 2023

According to the October 2019 US Bureau of Labor Statics 22.6 million workers make up the total number of public sector employees in the United States. Of those 22.6 million, 14.6 million or 64.6% are local public sector employees. The pandemic, remote working, and the idea of “gigs” over a career has sparked numerous challenges in the job market for private and public employers. As a large population of the workforce enters and nears retirement age, hiring and retaining employees at the local level will be at the forefront of many local officials minds and meeting agendas. Compliance with employment… read more »

Landmark Victory on Behalf of Pennsylvania’s Underfunded School Districts

access_time Posted on: February 22nd, 2023

In a 786-page decision issued on February 7, 2023, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is unconstitutional and must be reformed. The case William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et al. was filed against the Pennsylvania Department of Education, state legislative leaders, state education officials, and the governor (collectively, the “Defendants”) in 2014 by six Pennsylvania school districts, four parents of minor children, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – Pennsylvania State Conference (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”). The Plaintiffs claimed… read more »

Understanding Charter Schools

access_time Posted on: February 17th, 2023

In 1997 the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Pennsylvania Charter School Law, and charter schools were established. Forty-six states have a charter school law, and charter schools have become a major factor in public education. This article will answer some basic questions about charters. According to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, as of the spring of 2022, there are roughly 7,700 schools and campuses serving more than 3.4 million students across the U.S. Pennsylvania has almost 200 charter schools that serve about 1 75,000 students. There are two basic structures. First, a charter school can be located in a… read more »

Renew America’s Schools Grant

access_time Posted on: January 31st, 2023

On November 29, President Biden, through the U.S. Department of Energy, announced that applications are open for the Renew America’s Schools grant program. This first-of-its-kind investment will enable K-12 public schools to make clean energy improvements and upgrades that will lower energy costs and foster healthier learning environments. The grant provides a total of $500 million in funding. The first round of grants will provide up to $80 million for schools to install energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems, improve the insulation of their facilities, switch to electric vehicles, and convert facilities to renewable energy sources such as solar and… read more »

New Numbers for a New Year

access_time Posted on: January 20th, 2023

Happy New Year! The new year brings to us new numbers to keep in mind for municipal decision-making in 2023: Bid advertising requirements. In 2023, the threshold requiring advertisement of a municipal bid will increase to $22,500, up from $21,900 in 2022. The amount requiring collection of multiple telephone quotes for municipal work will increase to $12,200, up from $11,800 in 2022. Municipal action below the threshold of $12,200 will not require competitive solicitation. While these numbers are up, they have not increased at pace with the 8.2% increase in the consumer price index; Pennsylvania statute prevents the increase of these bidding requirements from exceeding… read more »