MASTRIANO: Senate Passes Bill to Provide Flexibility on Teacher Certifications

HARRISBURG – Schools would have more flexibility to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic under legislation that was approved by the Senate this week, according to State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), who supported the bill.

Senate Bill 1216 would ease many certification and staff development requirements that are difficult to fulfill during the pandemic, including waiving the basic skills exam requirement for teacher preparation programs until June 30, 2021; issuing temporary or provisional instructional certificates to individuals who meet certain criteria; extending special education certifications; and extending the deadline to satisfy staff development requirements until June 30, 2021.

“The pandemic has made it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for teachers and prospective teachers to comply with mandated certification requirements,” said Mastriano. “Efforts taken by the General Assembly will help streamline the process for educators to receive those necessary clearances.”

Emergency permit holders would also be allowed to continue to teach, even if they are unable to complete the requirements associated with the permit, because the program credits or assessment could not be completed.

In addition, the bill would delay the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the 2022-23 school year.  Also, any student who completed a course in an academic content area associated with a Keystone Exam is not required to take the test related to that course.

Also, the state’s Education Secretary would have the authority to waive the National Institute for Metalworking Skills assessment and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute exam requirements.

Additionally, the measure deals with several issues pertaining to pupil transportation. The legislation ensures school entities receive a subsidy payment that is equal to previous years and ensures contractors receive payment from the school entity at normal costs. Also, the bill provides for the transportation of nonpublic school students during the COVID-19 emergency, regardless of whether public schools are open during that time.



Op-Ed: Mount Joy Solar Panel Project Warrants Thorough Investigation

I have become increasingly alarmed about the lack of transparency regarding the proposed solar panel project in Mount Joy Township, Adams County.

Citizens are frustrated because they feel their voices are not being heard at the local level.

As a state lawmaker, it is important to understand that state officials do not get involved in local land-use matters. However, transparency is paramount – and we need some sunshine in Mount Joy Township.

If approved, a proposed massive industrial solar power plant will cover 1000 acres of prime farmland with 21 miles of eight-foot high barb wire fencing. Additionally, there will be more than 300,000 12-foot high rotating hazardous solar panels. These solar panels will have to be cleaned on a regular basis with well water. As a staunch environmental advocate, this could be devastating, as the project has the possibility of contaminating thousands of private homeowners’ water for the next 35 years.      

This can have devastating consequences on local residents by unleashing cancer and toxins into the environment.

It is my understanding that state agencies are aware of the concerns that have been raised by township citizens, and those departments are investigating the project.

Hopefully, the investigation will be swift and thorough. Answers are necessary.

Elected and appointed township officials have a solemn duty to uphold the oath of office, abide by state and federal codes, and to conduct themselves in a transparent manner, without any conflicts of interests.

No elected or appointed township official should be able to significantly profit from township decisions that are voted on by the Board of Supervisors. As such, statements of financial interest should be properly and accurately completed. Without following these important procedures, elected or appointed township officials should recuse themselves from any vote.

Transparency is a necessity, now more than ever.

Senator Doug Mastriano represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes all of Adams County, and portions of Franklin, Cumberland and York counties.