Appeals from the Orders of the Secretary of Education in cases of In the Matter of 1975-1976 Basic Instructional Subsidy -- School District of Pittsburgh, dated January 12, 1979; In the Matter of the 1977-1978 Basic Instructional Subsidy of the Pennsbury School District, dated January 12, 1979; and In the Matter of the 1977-1978 Basic Instructional Subsidy of the Centennial School District, dated February 16, 1979.
Paul L. Stevens, with him Curtin & Heefner, for petitioners, Pennsbury School District and Elizabeth M. Wilson.
John Philip Diefenderfer, with him Stuckert, Yates and Krewson, for petitioner, Board of School Directors of the Centennial School District.
Grace E. D'Alo, Assistant Attorney General, with her Patricia A. Donovan, Deputy Attorney General, Chief Counsel, for respondents.
Michael I. Levin, with him William Fearen, and Cleckner & Fearen, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle, Craig and MacPhail. Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Mencer did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 430]
The principal question before us is whether the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is mandated to reduce instructional subsidies to schools which provide less than 180 days of instruction. It comes to us through the consolidation of the appeals of the Pittsburgh School District (Pittsburgh) and the Centennial School District (Centennial) from orders by the Secretary of Education directing a reduction of their subsidies and two actions addressed to this Court's original jurisdiction by the Pennsbury School District (Pennsbury) and Centennial, requesting that the PDE be ordered to reimburse the district for the amount by which the subsidy was reduced.
The question first arose in 1976 when Pittsburgh received a subsidy from PDE which had been reduced as a result of Pittsburgh's failure to provide 180 days of instruction because of a teachers' strike. Pittsburgh
[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 431]
protested this reduction and was granted an administrative proceeding before a hearing examiner appointed by the PDE. The examiner issued an opinion, which was subsequently adopted by the Secretary of Education (Secretary), upholding the PDE's subsidy reduction. Exceptions were filed by Pittsburgh which were deemed to be an application for reconsideration and, as such, granted. Following reconsideration, the Secretary issued a final order affirming the PDE's actions. Pittsburgh's appeal to this Court followed.
Similarly, Centennial protested the PDE's reduction of its 1977 subsidy and was granted an administrative proceeding before the same hearing examiner who heard Pittsburgh's appeal. Again, the Secretary considered the district's appeal and dismissed it. From the Secretary's order, Centennial appealed to this Court. Centennial also filed a petition for review pursuant to this Court's original jurisdiction.
Pursuing a different course in challenging a reduction in its 1978 subsidy, Pennsbury chose to file a petition for review in the nature of mandamus, or in the alternative, an appeal from the subsidy computation. Subsequently, an administrative proceeding similar to those arranged for Pittsburgh and Centennial was granted to Pennsbury, and the mandamus action was stayed pending completion of the administrative proceeding. As in the other cases, the Secretary upheld PDE's subsidy reduction. ...