PA General Assembly by Representative Curtis G. Sonney, September 7, 2021
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation which would ensure that payments due to a charter school are accurate, as well as update the process used to reconcile the payments due to a charter school from school districts, including addressing any disputes that arise.
Under current law, if a school district fails to make a monthly payment to a charter school, the charter school sends an invoice to PDE and PDE directly pays the charter school and deducts the amount from the school district’s state subsidy. School districts may object for a variety of reasons, including questioning charges for students not residing in the school district or the number of days that the charter school may have educated a student. However, PDE is not required to notify school districts prior to any redirection, and current law does not provide for a complete and timely dispute resolution process. The lack of structure and timelines has resulted in longstanding, unresolved disputes over millions of dollars. In fact, a 2016 audit of PDE’s handling of charter school payment appeal by the state Auditor General found that 82% of appeals, involving more than $30 million, made between 2011 and 2015 were unresolved. This situation continues today and creates financial uncertainty for both charter schools and school districts.
My bill would require PDE to verify the accuracy of a charter school request for subsidy redirection and hold off on any redirection if the request is inaccurate or incomplete. School districts would be notified prior to any subsidy redirection and have the right to an appeal. PDE would also be required to resolve appeals in a timely manner. To ensure that school district payments, and any subsidy redirections to charter schools are accurate, my bill would also ensure that charter schools properly record and maintain proof of enrollment and proof of residency.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation to bring balanced structure, accountability, and timeliness to the process by which charter school payment reconciliations and disputes are addressed.
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