Special Education Cyber/Charter School Funding

Cosponsored Memorandum by Senator Mario M. Scavello to All Senate Members, May 20, 2022

In the near future, I intend to introduce companion legislation, similar to HB1749 (R. Brown), which would implement the bipartisan 2013 Special Education Funding Commission’s recommendation for applying the same special education funding principles used to distribute state special education funding to school districts, in the calculation used to determine a school district’s tuition payment for a special education student enrolled in a charter school.

As the Commission noted in their final report, “the existing (charter school special education) funding process is flawed, using an assumed (special education population) percentage of 16 percent of all children enrolled in the district of residence and paying the same rate regardless of student differences in educational need and cost.” These flaws result in school districts sending an inflated one-size fits-all tuition payment to charter schools which is more than what charter schools spend to educate individual special education students. Estimates on the amount of this overpayment exceed $100 million in taxpayer resources.

Because these flaws have yet to be addressed, the Commission’s recommendation that the legislature apply the same principles of the currently implemented special education funding formula for school districts for all local education agencies, including charter schools and cyber charter schools is still particularly relevant. Implementing these recommendations will not only improve the accuracy and fairness of funding distribution for charter schools and cyber charter schools, but also conserve precious special education resources. In the spirit of supporting all education models and educational choices for parents, guardians, and students, it is critical that we ensure fairness as much as possible and these education entities work together for Pennsylvania families.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation. If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Christine Zubeck in my office at 717-787-6123 or czubeck@pasen.gov. Thank you for your consideration

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