Montgomery County superintendents, school board members, and a bipartisan group of state legislators came together to demand charter school reform at a Children First press conference this week. Charter school payments by school districts drive up property taxes all the while letting down far too many children.
Pennsylvania is shelling out $2.2 billion a year statewide for charter schools. Charter payments alone cost Norristown School District more than $10 million. The District has raised property taxes 33% over the past decade to cover exploding charter payments – and can’t afford to squeeze taxpayers for more.
Growing charter costs doesn’t mean growing charter demand by parents. Instead, it’s a direct result of how school districts are grossly overcharged, especially for cyber charters.
After two years of virtual learning, school districts know it costs about $5,000/student for high-quality online learning. Cyber charters, with abysmal student performance rates, are billing districts two, three, even four times, higher. While cyber charters are sitting on a $164 million surplus, taxpayers have to raid their savings to cover property tax hikes.
The system is flawed, and the solution is clear – commonsense reform that would protect taxpayers and parents by creating:
- a reasonable standard tuition rate,
- transparency so taxpayers can see how their hard-earned dollars are being spent, and
- accountability for student performance (or lack-thereof as is the case with every cyber charter).
Watch the video of the event which features state representatives Tracy Pennycuick, a Republican, and Joe Ciresi, a Democrat, who cosponsored charter reform legislation (HB 272), and hear the powerful pleas from school superintendents who are watching charter schools drain local education budgets.