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Focus Your Outrage – Nov 5, 2021


Masking Over Exploding Cyber Charter Costs 

School board elections are finalized, and first-time school board members will be sworn in over the next several weeks.

Many candidates ran on platforms that sadly divide our communities (masking, racial equity, transgender student safety), but maybe they can come together to take on the financial tsunami that is cyber charter payments.

State law requires that school districts must pay the same amount in tuition to online cyber charters as they do to charter schools that teach in person in classrooms and on campuses. 

Enrollment in cyber charter schools has skyrocketed during the pandemic, causing southeastern Pennsylvania school districts to pay over $96 million more in charter school tuition and intensifying pressure on local property taxpayers. In southeastern PA, cyber charter enrollment increased by more than 53,000 students, the equivalent of 23 average-sized school districts.

These rising tuition payments put pressure on property taxes. Regional property taxes would have to increase on average by over 2.2% to offset rising payments to cyber charters. (See all regional districts fact sheets here.)

For example, cyber tuition costs in Coatesville Area School District jumped by an estimated $1,932,000 since 2020, a shocking 49% increase paid for by district taxpayers.

Bensalem School District is faced with a $2,012,000 cyber charter price hike, an astronomical 115% increase paid for by taxpayers in the district.

And William Penn, already so underfunded that it’s taking the state to court in the Fair Funding lawsuit, has $1,230,000 in additional cyber charter costs since last year.

Over 90% of Pennsylvania public school districts offer online learning programs for their students, and school officials are keenly aware of the costs of running virtual programs. Some school board members estimate that district-run virtual education costs only 25% of what they are paying cyber charter operators. No wonder that districts are frustrated since they could educate four students online for the cost of sending one student to a cyber charter.

If Pennsylvanians dedicated the same outrage about cyber costs as they do over masking or Critical Race Theory, we could push Harrisburg toward revamping our parasitic cyber funding system. Until then, taxpayers will be faced with property tax increases that will go into the pockets of private cyber charters.

The School District of Philadelphia wants to hear from you! Share the qualities, capabilities, and experience you want in the next Superintendent by completing their online survey.

So many public school buildings are crumbling but PA Senator Dush thinks that hanging the overtly Christian preamble to the state Constitution in every school lobby is somehow what’s needed right now.

It’s been a tough year for children and teens in Philadelphia so let’s show them we care by donating a toy to the Children First Toy Drive. Restaurants across the city are accepting unwrapped gifts for us. Learn more about ways to give to this worthy program.
“We are here because of an attack on…people who are trying to serve our community. We cannot allow the voices of hate, the voices of fear and ignorance to prevail.”

State Senator Steve Santasiero at a vigil in Bucks County denouncing hate speech toward school board members.