About the Board
The Pennsylvania State Board of Education was created by the General Assembly in 1963 and reestablished in 1988. The Board is comprised of 21 members, ten of whom serve as the Board’s Council of Basic Education and ten of whom serve as the Board’s Council of Higher Education. Seventeen members are appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for overlapping terms of six years. Four members of the Board are members of the General Assembly who serve as long as they hold majority and minority chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees. The chairperson of the Professional Standards and Practices Commission is a non-voting, ex officio Board member. Chairpersons of the Board and its Councils are designated by the Governor and serve at his pleasure. The 21 members of the board also serve as the State Board for Vocational Education.
The Board meets at least six times a year. Additional Council or Board meetings are held at the call of its chairperson or at the request of a majority of members. The chairperson of the Board and any of the members are entitled to attend the meetings of the Councils. Board committees are appointed by the chairperson of the Board to formulate policy proposals in those areas which fall within the purview of the Board. Council committees are appointed by the chairperson of each respective Council to formulate policy proposals in those areas which fall within the purview of either Council.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Education has the power and duty to review and adopt regulations that govern educational policies and principles and establish standards governing the educational programs of the Commonwealth, upon recommendation of its Councils. The Board also has the authority and duty to approve or disapprove an application for the creation of a new school district, or change in the boundaries of an existing school district; establish committees of professional and technical advisors to assist the Councils in performing research studies undertaken by them; manage and have custody of the State School Fund; apply for, receive and administer Federal grants, appropriations, allocations and programs within its purview; adopt policies with regard to institutions of higher education; and, adopt master plans for basic and higher education. The Board also sits as the State Board for Vocational Education and in this capacity sets policy and promulgates regulations regarding vocational and technical education in Pennsylvania.
The State Board of Education engages in a constant review and appraisal of education in the Commonwealth. The Board’s evaluation takes into account such matters as educational objectives, alternative organizational patterns, alternative programs of study, and the operating efficiency of the education system. The chairperson of the State Board refers all studies and investigations to one of its Councils, and receives and places on the agenda the findings and recommendations of the Council for appropriate action by the Board.
The Council of Basic Education has the power and duty to develop a master plan for basic education in the Commonwealth for adoption by the Board; investigate programs, conduct research studies and formulate policy programs in all educational areas not within the purview of higher education; encourage and promote such agricultural, industrial, vocational and technical education programs as the needs of this Commonwealth may require; and investigate and make recommendations pertaining to the work of any schools of design, schools of industrial arts or industrial schools to which the General Assembly may make an appropriation.
The Council of Higher Education has the power and duty to develop a master plan for higher education in the Commonwealth for adoption by the Board; develop standards for the approval of colleges and universities for granting of certification and degrees; develop standards for all higher education building projects involving the use of State funds or the funds of any Commonwealth institution; and, investigate programs, conduct research studies and formulate policy proposals in all areas pertaining to higher education in the Commonwealth, including a system of community colleges and technical institutions as provided by law.
The Secretary of Education is the head of the Department of Education and chief executive officer of the State Board of Education, is a member of the executive department of the Commonwealth and is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Secretary of Education, or his designated representative, is entitled to attend all meetings of the Board and its Councils, and has the right to speak on all matters before the Board and its Councils but not to vote on matters before the Board.