Pa. Senate education leaders need to give local taxpayers a break on cyber-charter costs | Opinion

PA Capital Star by ML Wemecke, April 12, 2021
School board members across the commonwealth are seeing red because the dollars they are sending to cyber- charter schools are spiraling out of control, putting intense pressure on local property taxes. Pennsylvania’s antiquated Charter School Law sets the ground rules for payments to cyber-charters and school districts are getting gouged. One of its more puzzling features of the law is that payments are unrelated the actual cost of delivering an online education. In fact, school districts must pay the same amount in tuition to online cyber charters as they do to charter schools that teach in person in classrooms and on campuses. As anyone who spent the last year on Zoom can tell you, there is a difference between in person and virtual settings.

This legislation would update how charter school tuition rates are calculated in two ways. First, it would establish standard cyber charter tuition rate at $9,500, replacing the current byzantine range of $9,659 to $22,322. In addition, it would reduce the pressure on local taxpayers by requiring charter schools to use the same criteria as other public schools to calculate special education tuition rates by applying the Special Education Funding Formula already created and adopted by the Legislature.

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