2019 Annual Conference Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1: Thursday 10:00am-10:55am

Cultivating a Highly- Effective Teaching Staff

Keystone B
Presented By: Dr. Gina GuarinoBuli, CEO, Renaissance Academy Charter School; Dr. Maureen Anderson, Founder, RefocusED

The session will focus on recruiting, identifying, and developing an outstanding, diverse teaching staff.  Information on projected teacher shortages in Pennsylvania will be addressed, as well as the benefits of hiring career-changer/second-career teachers.  Participants will learn strategies to cultivate their teaching staff at every level of development with the goal of increased retention.

Effective Collaboration Between Charter Schools and District Authorizers

Keystone C
Presented By: Paul O’Neill, President, Tugboat Education

In states like Pennsylvania where districts serve as authorizers for charter schools, relationships between them can sometimes be challenging. This session will explore circumstances that can lead to problems. It will offer best practices and foster a discussion about productive approaches to avoiding and resolving conflicts.

Finance and Operations: Implement Best Practices to Avoid Repeating Common Financial Mistakes

Keystone D
Presented By: Steve Reid, Chief Growth Officer, Charter School Business Management

Participants will learn from a seasoned professional about the most common finance and operations mistakes charters make–and how to prevent them. This presenter brings years of experience and a proven track record of success in helping leaders and boards at every phase of growth–from incubation to expansion/replication, and inspiring teams to run systems-driven, well-managed schools

From Sandusky to Solebury; Lessons from Pennsylvania on Educator Misconduct

Keystone E
Presented By: Pat Hennessy, Esq, the Chair of the Education Law Department and Partner at Conrad O’Brien

This program will take an in-depth look at the sample Educator Misconduct Acts and mandatory reporting statute changes using Pennsylvania’s legislative response to the Sandusky scandal at Penn State University as a touchstone, as well as the Grand Jury Reports in the Solebury School and the Plum Borough School District. It is vital that schools – public, private, boarding and religious – develop and communicate programs, policies and procedures to not only prevent but address allegations of sexual misconduct. Such information also must be communicated to families, students and stakeholders for true effectiveness. The presenters will discuss when there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is victim, including where (i) the alleged perpetrator comes into contact with the child in the course of employment; (ii) the alleged perpetrator is directly responsible for the care/supervision of children, or is affiliated with those directly responsible; (iii) a person makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of abuse; or (iv) an individual 14 years of age or older discloses to the mandated reporter that that individual has committed child abuse. One misstep can mean civil liability and criminal repercussions – up to a felony of the first degree for willfully failing to report. It is now more important than ever to ensure that correct steps are taken to comply with reporting laws, mitigate or eliminate civil liability and criminal exposure, and ensure that the alleged victim is cared for. The presentation will also address prevention tactics for any school that is looking to avoid future claims.

Innovation Strand Presentation
Keystone A

Breakout 2: Thursday, 1:15pm-2:10pm

Can School Meals be Healthy, Taste Good and Meet NSLP/SBP Standards?

Keystone A
Presented By: Russell Hengst, Vice President Operations-Education Division and Kate Clark, Director of Business Development, Lintons Food Service Management

Through a series of questions and answers, we will help to bust through the myths and mysteries of managing your school’s food service operation. We will answer the following and more: Do I need a fancy kitchen to feed my students? What do all of those acronyms really mean (NSLP, SBP, CEP, etc.)? Self-op or contracting, what makes the most sense for my school? Farm-to-table, plant-based menus, is there an easy way to implement this at my school? Please come to the session with any specific questions and we will try our best to help answer any questions you may have.

The Connection between Leading and Learning

Keystone E
Presented By: Dr Andrea Coleman Hill, CEO, Laboratory Charter School

As educational leaders, we directly impact student outcomes through our leadership of the climate, culture, academics, and sustainability of the organization. While recognizing that the scope of leadership looks different at each level, positive student outcomes are dependent upon effective leadership at every level. The absence of leadership creates voids that ultimately weaken the fabric of the organization across all levels and very often results in negative student outcomes. This presentation will explore leadership impacting learning at each level; including student, teacher, building level, and organizational level leaders.

The National Coalition for Public School Options – The Power of Parent Voices

Keystone C
Presented By: Christine Murphy, State Manager, Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Coalition for Public School Options

Parent advocacy is at the heart of what the National Coalition for Public School Options (PSO) does. We are looking forward to the opportunity to connect with PCPCS membership as it relates to building a robust network of parent advocates who will rally to protect and expand school choice in Pennsylvania. Through a discussion on proven, effective strategies employed in other PSO states, common obstacles to advocacy, and routes to parent education, PSO will provide an overview of which efforts we believe will prove most effective to found and grow a healthy parent coalition in the state.

Three Pillars of School Safety and Security

Keystone D
Presented By: Robert Meyers, Army veteran and retired Pennsylvania State Police officer/CEO, Vulnerability Solutions Group, Brian Leinhauser, Esq, Partner, The MacMain Law Group

Presenters will go over examples of elements within these three pillars and show the relationship that exists. Being able to understand how training for staff and students supported by policies/procedures can enhance your building’s physical attributes and vice versa. Having an understanding of these relationships will not only increase the security culture within a school but help build a foundation for ownership and pride in regards to school safety and security.

Triangulating Data and Using Multiple Measures: PSSA, Benchmarks and Local Assessments

Keystone B
Presented By: Ryan Winter, President, Linkit

This workshop will focus on the analysis of the three most prevalent categories of data used by Pennsylvania schools.
1. PA State Data: PSSA, PVAAS and Keystone Best
2. Benchmarks: NWEA MAP, CDT, i-Ready and STAR
3. Local Assessment: Curriculum Assessments, Formative Assessment, and Performance/Rubric assessments
This presentation will demonstrate the operational and instructional benefits of consolidating all data and assessments in a single location.

Breakout 3: Thursday, 2:15pm-3:10pm

Boards 201 – Taking Your Board From Good to Great (or from “eh” to good)

Keystone C
Presented By: Marc Manella, Founder, KIPP Philadelphia and President, Manella Consulting Services

Raise your hand if you’ve said one of the following statements in the last year: “My board doesn’t do anything.” “My board doesn’t really understand what we do.” “My board is too in the weeds.” Or even, “My board has gone rogue.” Developing and managing an effective board is perhaps the most specialized skill all charter CEOs must master. Yet because the cost of an ineffective board is not monetary, but rather measured in wasted opportunities, or CEO hours spent counseling unhappy/ ineffective board members, too often these costs are viewed as part of life running a non-profit. This session will go beyond the basics and focus on diagnosing your current board’s effectiveness, and creating plans to leverage your board’s strengths while improving the areas your board may be falling short.

Designing for Diversity: Legal, Demographic and Practical Considerations for Pennsylvania Charters

Keystone D
Presented By: Miriam Nunberg, Esq., Education Rights Law and Consulting; Halley Potter, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation; Sonia C. Park, Executive Director, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition; Jon Rosenberg, CEO, Philadelphia Hebrew Public Charter School; Veronica Brooks-Uy, Policy Director, National Association of Charter School Authorizers

There is a large body of evidence suggesting that socioeconomic and racial integration provide educational benefits for all students, especially at-risk students. Today, some innovative charter schools are pursuing efforts to integrate students from different racial and economic backgrounds in their classrooms. This session will present the Century Foundation’s recent analysis of Pennsylvania’s charter and district demographics, along with factors in Pennsylvania charter school law that may impact these demographics. We will review the specific findings and recommendations of the study so that participants can understand implications for their own schools and for advocacy efforts. The Diverse Charter Schools Coalition will share best practices for developing and sustaining diverse charters schools, and Hebrew Public will share its specific story in planning and opening PA’s first diverse-by-design charter school in Philadelphia this fall. Participants will obtain recommendations for strategies to increase integration at their own schools, along with an understanding of directions for advocacy on the legislative front so as to develop a call for statewide action to support diverse-by-design charter schools and promote integration in schools across the state.

Health Care Costs are Rising, think PSERS. What are the Options?

Keystone E
Presented By: Michael Whisman, CPA – Leadership member and co-founder of Charter Choices; Bill Green – Former Chair of the Philadelphia SRC and co-founder of Homestead Health Plans

Few would argue that health benefits are becoming increasingly difficult for employers to offer and afford.  There is widespread resignation in the K-12 community today about annual increases in healthcare premiums and their corollary impact on the school budgets.  There has to be a better way to get out of this spiral of rising health insurance costs – a way that makes sense for both the employees and the school. Mike Whisman, CPA and Bill Green have been advocates of the Charter Movement in the Commonwealth and will facilitate the discussion and share thoughts and ideas around this topic.

How to Build a Schoolwide Data Culture to Ensure Continuous Improvement: The Path to Blue Ribbon Success

Keystone B
Presented By: Dr. Carise Comstock, Principal, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

How does a high school go from never using data to earning a National Blue Ribbon in five years? Attend this session to find out! We will start by unpacking the research-based logic models that framed our original thinking, share our story, and provide you with actionable strategies, such as creating summer teacher workshops for developing teacher capacity to gather and utilize data to improve instruction, which ultimately improved our student achievement. The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts (Charter Arts) has been designated as a PA Title I Reward School for High Achievement, and in 2018, Charter Arts was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for Exemplary High Performance!

In this workshop-style session, participants will have the opportunity to hear what worked at our school, network with one another, and share best practices. Whether you are looking for strategies to begin your school’s data journey or just seeking ideas to help refine what your school is already doing, this session is for you! Attendees will leave with a renewed focus on the value of leadership as the driver of organizational and teacher capacity development and will create an action plan to employ back at home to optimize student success!

Innovation Strand Presentation
Keystone A

Breakout 4: Thursday, 3:15pm-4:10pm

Achieving a Modern Day Technology Roadmap

Keystone E
Presented By: Nate Kline, Senior Account Executive, Infradapt

When developing the technology road map for your charter school, how can you ensure that your strategy is poised to obtain the most value out of your budget? Nate Kline, Senior Account Executive of industry leading technology firm, Infradapt, provides an in-depth review of the modern technology infrastructure required to deliver a robust learning experience to students, and the overhead involved in managing such an environment.

Identifying the ABC’s within IEPs: Using IEPs to differentiate instruction within your general education classroom

Keystone A
Presented By: Dr. Colleen L. Freyvogel, Assistant Dir. of Special Education, Agora Cyber Charter School

Special Education teachers are experts in the development of IEPs; however, it falls on the shoulders of general education teachers to interpret and implement those documents. There is no need to panic! This workshop will provide strategies for general educators to dig deeper into an IEP, learn to track student needs, and build teacher capacity to use information from IEPs to differentiate instruction. All participants will leave the worksheet with a classroom tracker and FAQ about specially designed instruction.

Reducing Your Unemployment Insurance Cost and Claim Workload

Keystone B
Presented By: John Pichola, UC Solutions Group, Geoff Moomaw, Interstate Tax Service

Nonprofits and Charter Schools have special IRS exemptions on their Unemployment Taxes. The first part of our presentation will outline strategies that the school can apply to lower their annual contribution to the PA Department of Labor. Last Year, the average saved by PCPCS members was 39%; we will review a few case studies to provide example. The second part, in conjunction with Geoff Moomaw of Interstate Tax Service, will focus on common Unemployment Claim scenarios that educational organizations face and how best to prepare a defense when appealing to the State agency.

The Path to Proficiency in PA Core Math

Keystone C
Presented By: David Ginsburg, Educational Consultant, Ginsburg Coaching; Erin Rooney, Coach, Ginsburg Coaching

Students throughout Pennsylvania are struggling to meet the rigorous demands of the PA Core Math Standards. Yet this widespread lack of proficiency says more about how we teach math than students’ capacity to learn it. Participants in this session will learn classroom practices that engage and empower all students—including those perceived to lack ability or motivation—to learn math at the high levels demanded by the PA Core Standards. Participants will also learn how to distinguish instructional practices that support high level learning in math from those that stifle it.

What To Expect From The Charter Renewal Process And How To Make The Most Of It

Keystone D
Presented By: Kevin McKenna, Esq, Partner, McKenna Snyder, LLC; Beth Jones, CFO, Insight Cyber Charter School and Founder and Former COO, Collegium Charter School

In this interactive session, participants will receive insight from highly experienced charter school solicitors on the renewal process including what level of access to your school is appropriate, how long the process may take and ways in which the school may use renewal to its benefit. Since things do not always go as planned, participants will receive any breaking news on administrative or judicial rulings regarding nonrenewal/revocation with an impact on the broader charter school community. Also included will be a brief review of PCPCS’s Quality Workbook and how it can be used to help a school prepare for renewal.

Breakout 5: Friday, 8:45am-9:40am

Beyond PADOE and State Requirements to Sustainable Achievement

Keystone E
Presented By: Daniel Rufo, Director of Accrediation, Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools

How can charter schools – in an increasingly crowded landscape – go beyond state expected norms to guarantee to their students, parents, community and elected leaders that they are providing a quality education, equipping their students for academic success and operating in a manner that is fiscally sound? This session will answer that question by exploring proven, sustainable and cost-effective strategies, such as accreditation, that help charter schools push beyond the state requirements to sustainable achievement. Attendees will hear first-hand from representatives from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School about how these proven practices have helped them develop more effective long-term strategic planning and move beyond state-mandated requirements for charter schools to sustainable achievement.

Empowering School Leaders

Keystone C
Presented By: Dr. Aiko Malynda Maurer, Founder and former CEO/Principal of the HOPE for Hyndman Charter School, Chief Executive Officer of the Central PA Digital Learning Foundation, and Director of Innovation, Incubation, and Development of the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8

In this session, experiences will be shared and ideas will be presented by a school leader that not only has paved the way for two different school teams to think outside the lines but has also provided encouragement and support for school leaders who are swimming upstream against the traditional way of thinking of school systems. The objective of the session is for participants to share what has been tried, what has worked and not worked as well as what is planned so that each session participant will go back to their school with at least one nugget to help them continue be innovative and creative in their educational practices.

When and Where to Get Financing for My Charter School? – A Panel Discussion on Facilities and Financing Options

Keystone B
Presented By: An Tran, Vice President, PNC Public Finance; Nicholas Tripician, Managing Director, PNC Capital Markets; Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio, Esq. President & CEO, Congreso de Latinos Unidos

For charter schools young and old, facilities access is a persistent challenge and is often one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Pennsylvania does not provide much in terms of facilities funding so charter schools must use per pupil /student funding to provide for facilities. There are a variety of financing sources available to charter schools, but finding an appropriate solutions can be a daunting task for charter school administrators and board members without proper guidance and knowledge. PNC Charter School Group is hosting an interactive panel of charter school facilities financing professionals along with a few charter school leaders to discuss facilities solutions. In particular, the panel will discuss facilities challenges facing charter schools in PA and the different financing options currently available for schools of different sizes and operating experience.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: Strategizing for Success

Keystone D
Presented By: Jesse Bean, K-12 Finance & Strategy Advisor, Charter Choices, Inc.

Tired of spinning your wheels, investing precious time and money into a planning process that yields yet another dusty binder?  This workshop, designed with both individuals and leadership teams in mind, can become the official (re)launch of your Strategic Planning process!  You’ll participate in a “Strategy Slice” with an experienced advisor that includes a SWOT Analysis, an introduction to Pat Lencioni’s “Six Critical Questions” for organizational health, and an opportunity to identify 3 to 5 Strategic Priority Areas.  In less than an hour, you and your team will walk away with a timeline and a road-map to building a successful strategic plan for your school.

Innovation Strand Presentation
Keystone A

Breakout 6: Friday, 9:45am-10:40am

Developing an effective and compliant special education program for your charter school

Keystone B
Presented By: Kathleen Adolt-Silva, Director of Educational Support Services, Arts Academy Charter Middle School, Nicole D. Snyder, Esq., Shareholder, McKenna Snyder, LLC.

Special Education programs can make or break a charter school. Knowing what you don’t know, what you need to know, and where to find the things that you have to know are challenges of both new and established charter schools. This session will provide a practical guide for charter schools in PA, with resources, examples, and real-life experiences intended to get you started on or to assess and improve what you already have for your charter school’s Special Education Program.

Identifying and Addressing Potential Issues and Solutions Surrounding the Unionization of Charter Schools

Keystone D
Presented By: Christine Reilly, Esq, Associate, McKenna Snyder, LLC.

This presentation will identify and address potential issues and solutions surrounding unionization including recognizing signs of organizing and the role that Unfair Labor Practice charges frequently play in bargaining strategy.  This presentation will also include Best Practices for charter school administrators and trustees including navigating the National Labor Relations Act.

Modern Charter School Buildings: Dynamic Learning Platforms on a Limited Budget

Keystone A
Presented by: Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of Project Development, and James Keiffer, RA, Senior Project Manager, KCBA Architects; and Steve Pearlman, Regional Sales Manager for PA, and Marc Schwam, VP of Sales, Hertz Furniture

Charter School buildings are shaped by a different set of financial and operational parameters than public and independent schools. This session, presented by a team of architects that has partnered with a number of PA charter schools to develop new and renovated buildings, is customized to reflect their unique facility-related challenges and opportunities. Information will be organized into three segments. First, a review of national school facility trends will take place with a focus on operational standards to support evolving instructional strategies; modern safety and security practices; and learning environment qualities related to spatial flexibility, technological equipment and infrastructure, and facilitation of collaborative and project-based activities. Next, the unique characteristics of charter school buildings will be explored including opportunities to embody the school’s distinct educational focus and culture within the structure and strategies to sensitively support non-traditional grade alignments. Last, techniques to stretch limited capital project budgets will be examined such as allocation of a significant portion of the budget expenditure to high-use and high-profile areas, focus on multi-use opportunities and activation of circulation, and integration of durable but cost effective systems and materials.

The Value of Academic Research in Advocacy

Keystone C
Presented By: Bill Friel, EdD, Assistant Director Strategic Partnerships, Drexel University Online

This session offers analysis on national trends in charter school leadership, management and policy from a post-secondary perspective. We will review the most recent data and insights from peer-reviewed education journals and dissertations, offering participants an opportunity to examine school choice research in support of charter school advocacy.

When The Walls Come Tumblin’ Down: A Survival Guide for Response to Disruption of School Operations

Keystone E
Presented By: Jay Appleton, PE, CHC, CSSHO, Project Executive/Program Manager, GREYHAWK, Anna Marie Siegmann, CEO, Philadelphia Academy Schools, Pat Hennessy, Esq, the Chair of the Education Law Department and Partner at Conrad O’Brien

Using a case study of an actual flooding event that caused widespread damage throughout the Philadelphia Academy Charter School K-8 Campus, the presentation team will discuss the incident response, challenges faced, lessons learned, and resources recommended for proactive planning. Discussion topics will include incident command and communication, resources, facility assessment, health and safety issues, planning documents, and continuity of operations. Although the presentation will focus on a real-life flooding event, observations and recommendations will be applicable to all hazards, and will be scalable to address both minor events and major catastrophes.

Breakout 7: Friday, 10:45-11:40

Are your assessments the best fit for the purpose, and how do you make them work for you?

Keystone B
Pesented By: David Cosme, Director of Student Achievement, Renaissance Charter School, Stephanie Foehl, seasoned educator, Renaissance Charter School, and Brad Banich, Senior Account Executive at NWEA

Join Renaissance Academy’s David Cosme, Director of Student Achievement, Stephanie Foehl, seasoned educator, and Brad Banich, Senior Account Executive at NWEA to take a deep dive in to assessments and data and their role in our schools. During this session, we will discuss the characteristics of quality assessments and the importance of aligning them with assessment purposes. This will include sharing resources that can be utilized to perform a formal Assessment Evaluation and Review process at your organization. Another key aspect of assessments is what you do with the data, so we’ll spend time talking about application and getting the most value from your assessments.

Charter Schools 101: What all Successful Charter Leaders Need to Know

Keystone E
Presented By: Dr. Tina Chekan, CEO, Propel Charter School Network; Michael Whisman, CPA – Leadership member and co-founder of Charter Choices; Jesse Bean, K-12 Finance & Strategy Advisor, Charter Choices, Inc.; Ana Meyers, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools

Leading a successful public charter school requires a combination of business skills, education expertise, and political savvy in varying proportions depending on the school’s organizational design. In addition to the curricular and logistical challenges that face any public school, charters must self-manage annual budgets that run in the millions, self-employ teachers and other staff, and strive for high achievement, often with disproportionate numbers of students whose prior school experience has been disheartening. This session will contain a panel of charter school experts to discuss all the things you need to know as a new or existing charter school CEO to lead your school to success!

 “I Have The Conch; I Will Speak!” An Invitation to Charter School Leaders to Vent

Keystone D
Presented By: Pat Hennessy, Esq, the Chair of the Education Law Department and Partner at Conrad O’Brien, Marc Manella, Founder, KIPP Philadelphia and President, Manella Consulting Services

Charter school veterans will facilitate the discussion for charter school leaders -has running a charter school in Pennsylvania become like “Lord of the Flies?” It is rare that charter school leader can vent frustrations in the current negative environment. Participants can take the opportunity to safely share their frustrations with leading a charter school – and even be free to criticize authorizer practices, the politics of charter schools (external and internal) and inundation of email/texts/social media, bureaucracy tasks, data, and tugs on time. As the charter school movement ages, the concern for loss of long-standing charter school leaders to burn out is very real and must be addressed.

Top 10 Risk Management Worries for Charter School Leaders

Keystone C
Presented By: Steven Przybylski, CIC, VP, Alliant Insurance Services

The presentation will identify and provide solutions for charter school leaders to resolve the top 10 risk management worries that can result in litigation or liabilities against their schools.  Topics covered include HR, SPED, Social Media, Drop-off/pickup, Field Trips, and more.  By proactively addressing these concerns, you can reduce claims, improve employee morale, and financially protect your school.

Innovation Strand Presentation
Keystone A