Whereas a “Resolution Calling for Charter School Funding Reform” has been circulating, several points of clarification need to be established. These are:
- The formula for a Charter School’s regular education program provides less money to Charter Schools because it is not based on the needs of the Charter School but rather on the expenditures of the School District minus an average of 25% in deductions. Yet, Charter Schools are held to the same high standards as are the traditional school districts.
- Charter School income is based on the previous year’s expenditures of the student’s home school district which can be a 2-4% difference as compared to the current school year.
- Charter School Law has been changed twice in the 23 years since it was first created – once to remove a payment for PSERS and once to remove a payment for Social Security (about 5% reduction to Charter Schools each time).
- Tuition rate calculations are based only on the school district’s expenses. Some school districts spend significantly less than more affluent districts. However, this Charter School formula is fair because it is proportional to what the parent pays in taxes to educate their child in each of their home school districts.
- It should make no difference to the school district if another district is providing less money to the same Charter School unless that district’s parents are concerned about sending their child to a school that they might perceive as being underfunded (which they don’t).
- The latest data from the PA Department of Education (PDE) reports that in 2017-18, Charter School payments were more than $1.8 billion, with $519 million of that total paid by districts for tuition to Cyber Charter schools demonstrating the popularity of these school choice options.
- The PA Department of Education reports shows that the total K-12 educational expenditures were $28.3 billion for Pennsylvania in 2016, with $4billion of this total provided by the state.
- Pennsylvania ranks 6th among all 50 states in total K-12 spending.
- All PA Charter Schools combined receive 4% of all money spent by school districts. Approximately ½ of all Charter Schools are in the Philadelphia School district. Thus, school districts outside of Philadelphia spend significantly less than 6.4% on Charter Schools.
- 9% of all PA K-12 expenditures are spent on PA Cyber Charter Schools.
- While PA School Districts were paying Cyber Charter Schools $3.8 billion over the last ten years, these same districts were putting an extra $1.9 billion into their School District Reserve accounts – amounting to a total of $4.6 billion as of May 16, 2019. (These figures do notinclude capital reserves normally used for planned construction costs.)
Summary: Current efforts to “reform” Pennsylvania Charter Schools are based on the precept that Charter Schools have fewer costs and thus should be receiving less than they get currently. Charter Schools already receive, on average, 25% less than the student’s home school district but are held to the same standards. Overall, it is not true that Cyber Charter schools are harming the traditional school districts financially. While paying Cyber Charter Schools $3.8 billion over the last ten years, these same districts were putting an extra $1.9 billion into their School District Reserve accounts.
Prepared by: Public Association of Cyber Charter Schools, 1332 Enterprise Drive, West Chester, PA 19380, Dr. James Hanak, President: