NorthCentralPA.com by Chris Benson, October 11, 2021
Williamsport, Pa. — After many schools went virtual during the pandemic, education sector officials reflected upon the financial and performance costs for students, school districts, and taxpayers in a virtual meeting last week. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and the Keystone Center for Charter Change held the meeting Friday to discuss issues faced by charter schools in particular. According to PSBA, Pa. school districts are on track to spend more than $23 billion in taxpayer dollars for mandatory payments to cyber charter and other brick-and-mortar schools, with those costs growing substantially every year. But one superintendent noted that most of that money does not come from the state. “This needs to be answered by legislators, who are not taking action,” said Dr. Robert J. O’Donnell, superintendent of the State College Area School District. “We’re [his school district] funded by mostly local money here.” School districts have paid upwards of 253 percent over the last 12 years, but charter enrollment has increased only 118 percent PSBA noted. “The lack of understanding and the political charge is what lead to such a stalemate,” said Dr. Jacquelyn M. Martin, superintendent of the Keystone Central School District in Clinton County. More than 22,000 students throughout Pa. have transitioned to cyber charter schools, a direct result from the COVID-19 pandemic. PSBA said this change cost local taxpayers an additional $335 million statewide.
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