Education, press release
Governor Tom Wolf and lawmakers announced bipartisan laws to fix Pennsylvania’s broken charter school law. Under current law, charter schools will not be held accountable and students will be left behind.
The governor’s plan calls for schools to be held accountable to students, families, and communities, improving the quality of education, protecting public transparency, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
The plan was supported by educational groups for its focus on quality and accountability:
LEARNING Pennsylvania Chairman Frank Gallagher
“We are grateful that Governor Wolf and members of the General Assembly understand the urgent need to reform the financing of charter schools for taxpayers in Pennsylvania. This bipartisan proposal will put an end to overpayments to charter schools that have driven up property taxes and preserved parenting choice.
“The proposed legislation will save $ 229 million for school districts this year. But more importantly, it will finally address the biggest cost drivers in school district budgets. Continuing the current path is not financially sustainable.
“Our current funding system allows charter schools to redirect resources for disabled students for other purposes. Also, school districts pay twice as much for cyber charter programs as they do for our own distance learning programs. Neither of these is acceptable. Both must be changed.
“We thank Governor Wolf, Representatives Joe Ciresi, Wendi Thomas, and Tracy Pennycuick, and Senators Lindsay Williams and Jim Brewster for leading this effort. We urge the General Assembly to take swift action to bring these reforms into effect and put Pennsylvania on the path to a more accountable and financially sound charter funding system. “
Nathan Mains, CEO of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association
“PSBA has long advocated reform of PA’s obsolete 23-year Charter School Law, and we support Governor Wolf’s efforts to implement savings, as well as additional accountability and transparency for charter schools in Pennsylvania. The current funding formula, whereby public school districts pay charter schools at an inflated rate above the actual cost of student education, is flawed and requires significant regulatory and financial changes. “
Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators
“PASA supports Governor Wolf’s proposal to update the outdated law on charter schools that lacks both financial and academic accountability.”
Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools
“The educational landscape is constantly changing. This year, teaching models had to rotate more than ever – from personal learning to completely virtual to hybrid ones and everything in between. The Pennsylvania public education system is strong, steadfast, flexible, resilient, and free for all students. Cyber charter school systems offer unique opportunities, but those opportunities are only available through taxpayers’ money being withdrawn from local, public, and municipal schools. Taxpayers, community members who believe they are helping their local schools’ education, are being forced to redirect those dollars to for-profit cyber charter schools, which limits the funds available for students in community schools. The guiding principle of the school district tax system is that local public taxpayers support a local community school annually. Funding an alternative, for-profit school system with public funds that are not limited to accountability runs counter to the premise of free public education supported by a variety of communities across the state. These cyber charter school reforms are essential to the financial responsibility and accountability of all Pennsylvanians, and especially to the education of children throughout the Commonwealth. “
Education Voter of PA Executive Director Susan Spicka
“Governor Wolf’s proposed changes to the Pennsylvania Charter Schools Act are welcome, necessary, and long overdue. In 2020-2021, Pennsylvania taxpayers will spend more than $ 2.5 billion on tuition for charter schools, including an estimated $ 980 million sent to cyber charter schools. Because the state does not subsidize school districts for charter school expenses, most of these costs are paid for in property tax dollars.
“These proposed reforms would reduce wasteful spending on cyber charter schools by better aligning cyber school tuition fees with the actual cost of training students at home on the computer. Eliminate the profit charters make on payments for students with disabilities by using the same special funding formula for district and charter schools. and to provide strong protection against conflicts of interest, nepotism and proprietary financial trafficking between individuals in the charter sector to prevent the undue profiting that has occurred in the past.
“These are sensible reforms that should have broad, bipartisan support.”