Friday, January 8, 2021

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cyber Charter School Responds to "Schuylkill County School District Business Managers Speak Out on Charter School Funding"


The following is a Letter to the Editor that Skook News received on the morning of January 8th, 2021 from Tim Eller, Senior Vice President of Outreach and Government Relations, Commonwealth Charter Academy, after posting a Letter to the Editor from School District Business Managers on January 7th, 2021.

You can read the original post here:

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The January 7, 2021, letter to the editor (Schuylkill County School District Business Managers Speak Out on Charter School Funding) signed by six Schuylkill County school business managers is not just misleading, it is flat out wrong.

The most important fact they failed to share is that students who attend public cyber charter schools, like Commonwealth Charter Academy, on average, receive 25 percent less funding than their peers who attend district-run schools.

In reality, Pennsylvania’s charter school funding formula creates an unequal, two-tier funding mechanism that treats public cyber charter school students as second-class citizens. All students should receive the same amount of funding regardless of what public school their family chooses.

Let’s consider some additional facts that the business managers left out.

As of the 2018-19 school year, all Schuylkill County school districts combined spent a total of $291.4 million, of which $9.2 million, or 3.2 percent, accounted for students attending public cyber charter schools; however, these districts spent $37.3 million, or 13 percent, on pension costs.

In addition, these districts amassed $53.4 million in reserve funds – 18.3 percent of their budgets and nearly six times more than their cyber charter school spending.

The largest cost driver for school districts is pension costs and school districts are using cyber charter schools as an excuse.

School districts have complete control of how much they transfer to public cyber charter schools: better serve families to meet the needs of their child.

Contrary to what the business managers stated, Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) under state and federal laws is both a public school and a nonprofit, 501(c) organization; CCA does not make a profit. It is disappointing and disheartening that they intentionally mislead the public into thinking public cyber charter schools are for-profit entities.

While the business managers criticize cyber charter schools, their comments actually attack parents for exercising their right to send their child to the public school that will best serve their child.

The fact is, CCA serves as a lifeline for thousands of students who have been ignored or failed by their local school district. Students don’t have time to wait for school districts to get their act together, which is why parents step in and vote with their feet.

Tim Eller
Senior Vice President of Outreach and Government Relations
Commonwealth Charter Academy
Harrisburg, PA

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