Thursday, January 7, 2021

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


Local school district business managers including those in Schuylkill County are speaking out on charter schools.
UPDATE:  The Commonwealth Cyber Charter Academy has provided a response to the letter posted below
https://www.skooknews.com/2021/01/letter-to-editor-cyber-charter-school.html

Letter to the editor:

Recently the United States Department of Education awarded a five-year $30 million grant to Pennsylvania Brick and Mortar Charter Schools to increase their academic success. All the while, many Pennsylvania Public Schools are cutting programs in order to continue to pay for charter school costs, some even becoming financially distressed due to this burden.

Our local state legislators have failed by not providing a fair funding for charter schools while draining public schools and increasing the burden of further expenditures on the local taxpayers. Contrary to the general public belief, charter schools are not free. Schuylkill County Public Schools pay tuition per student ranging from $10,000 to almost $30,000 per student.

During the 2018-2019 school year, Schuylkill County Public Schools paid nearly $11 million to charter schools that contributed to over $2 billion paid to charter schools during that year. While it is true some state money is allocated per student, state funding only provides for approximately half of the county schools’ budgets, with the remaining paid by their local taxpayers.

While most Schuylkill County Public Schools have struggled financially, in part to sky rocketing charter school costs, Commonwealth Charter Academy reported a $1,241,314 profit in 2018-2019.Additionally, their accumulated profits as of June 30, 2018 were nearly $38 million. To add insult to injury, during that year they spent nearly $8 million of local tax payer money on advertising, not education.

The financial rewards of these charter schools have increased dramatically during this pandemic with the average cyber charter school enrollment increasing by over 60%. Despite this fact, Commonwealth Charter Academy is scheduled to receive over $12.8 million in additional federal stimulus money allocated by our state legislators.

Public schools are the pillars of their local communities and are going bankrupt while politically driven charter schools have become very profitable big business. It is hard to fathom that as our local public schools begin looking at their budget cuts for next year, that our local state legislatures believe what they are doing is in the best interest of their constituents. The funding of these charter schools are not equitable and needs to be fixed this year.

Sincerely,

Robert L Amos
Business Manager, North Schuylkill

Jennifer C Laudeman
Business Manager, Minersville

Brian Manning
Business Manager, Shikellamy

Jodie Dermo
Business Manager, Pine Grove

Brittany Doyle
Business Manager, Schuylkill IU 29

Anthony Demalis
Business Manager Shenandoah Valley

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