KIDS’ HOPES SHOULD SOAR, NOT CHARTER SCHOOL COSTS
Twenty athletes from Pennsylvania are fighting for Olympic gold this month, representing the best from the Keystone State. Sadly, were Pennsylvania’s students competing on the global stage, their chances of coming out on top would be slim and getting worse.
New research shows that astronomical charter school costs are undermining the very basis of Pennsylvania’s educational system – its financing. Charter fees are projected to soar by $1.7 billion by 2025 and are the fastest growing cost in the state’s education system.
Researchers estimate an increase of $3 billion in local revenues by 2025, most from raising property taxes, to cover education costs. More than half of those increases will go to paying increased charter school costs alone. Despite those tax hikes, 70% of the state’s school districts will still be facing deficits.
This alarming information comes from a new report by Temple University’s Public Policy Lab which releases annual projections of school district finances. The Public Policy Lab is not in the business of school funding; they simply analyze the current trends in all categories of spending and revenue, and project those trends into the future, letting the numbers speak for themselves. In this case, the numbers are shouting.
The General Assembly this year passed up a huge opportunity to enact simple reforms to moderate charter school costs: standardize cyber charter school tuition and require charters to fund special education like district schools do. These policies would have regulated charter cost growth and brought much needed rationality to the skewed charter funding system.
But even if these proposals were enacted, the vast majority of school districts would still be underwater by 2025. That’s how severe the problem is. Continuing with the status quo means a future of soaring property taxes, major cuts to school programs, and a full-blown educational crisis in Pennsylvania unless state lawmakers undertake the herculean task of charter reform.
Charter school costs are threatening to put our kids in last place. If Pennsylvania wants to lead the competition, we have to give our kids the best training now. PA children deserve to bring home the gold.