The North Hills School board unanimously passed a resolution Monday in support of The Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform Bill, which would change the funding formula for charter, and cyber schools.
“This bill eliminates the funding of advertising by charter schools. It provides for more equitable cost control particularly of the cyber schools of what their actual costs incurred as opposed to what we are giving them,” said board finance vice chairman Lou Nudi.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Mannarino told the board the district spends $3,000 for every student it educates via the district’s cyber school but must pay $10,000 for every student that attends a cyber charter school.
“They’re building this big mausoleums to cyber education, they’re in the real estate business, it’s one of the best examples of crony capitalism that you can find,” said Nudi.
According to state law, local school districts must pay for students who choose to attend charter or cyber charter schools, which are funded by local school district tax dollars.
Both the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, support the measure, sponsored by a Republican lawmaker from Central Pennsylvania, Mike Fleck.
Currently, when school districts figure out how much they must pay for charters for each student – athletics, charter payments, and pension costs for teachers – are part of the equation, even though charter schools don't offer interscholastic athletics, don’t contribute to the cost of competing charger schools, and get their own state reimbursement for teacher retirement costs.
In addition to making the funding calculation more accurate, Fleck’s bill would also require charter schools to undergo strick audits and limit the size of their fund balances to 8-12 percent, depending on their size.
In a statement on its web site, the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools said Rep. Fleck’s legislation essentially eliminates school choice for the following groups:
- Parents who wish to send their children to any charter school who reside in districts where there is already a district-run cyber program in place.
- Parents of special education students who are given an Individual Education Program (IEP) after enrollment in the charter school.
- Parents of special education students who reside in districts where special education charter costs exceed Rep. Fleck’s poorly-defined cap reimbursement levels.
- HB 2364 will put good quality charter schools out of business, eliminating the opportunity for that option for thousands of parents and children.
The bill is now awaiting consideration by the House Education Committee.
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