Charter costs force districts to make cuts

Altoona Mirror by Andrew Mollenauer, December 15, 2021

Rising charter school tuition costs for school districts are increasingly taking away resources and opportunities for traditional public school students, local school officials say. According to data from The Keystone Center for Charter Change at Pennsylvania School Boards Association, charter tuition costs for districts have increased 47.6% between 2014-15 and 2019-20, while charter school enrollment has only increased 10.4% in the same timeframe. But as one area superintendent said, cyber charter schools don’t face the same expenses as public school districts. As districts are forced to foot the constantly increasing bill, programs in public schools are taking a hit, potentially impacting students’ college readiness, some claim. Altoona Area School District Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said his district was forced to cut 11 teaching positions, in-source several special education programs, develop programs using sponsorships and restructure transportation contracts and other outside contracts at least in part due to rising charter tuition costs. Prijatelj said the district is combating a $6 million budget deficit, which is primarily driven by more than $4 million in cyber charter school tuition.

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