Charter School Groups Fighting Funding Reducing Proposals

Mar 15, 2013

Charter school groups are giving bad grades to legislative proposals that would reduce what they receive in funding from their local school districts.

One of the more tense exchanges in a recent state House committee hearing on proposals that would mean less funding for charter and cyber charter schools came during a back and forth on the quality of the education provided at the publicly-funded, privately-run schools.

The proposals at the center of debate would allow school districts to eliminate a portion of the overall per-student tuition they pay to publicly-funded, privately-run schools.

Jeff Piccola, a former state senator who spoke to a House committee on behalf of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, says even the parts of the legislation that would throw a bone to charter schools aren’t enough.

He says those bones, which would give the schools longer charter terms and allow them to be paid directly by the state Department of Education, are outweighed by other proposals to make cuts to their funding.

“It’s kind of like mortally wounding a person and then expecting them to be grateful for a nice funeral,” Piccola said.

Charters and school districts also differ on what the proposed reforms would cost.

A cyber charter school CEO told lawmakers they should wait for a full analysis of what it takes to educate students in a cyber charter school model before considering changes that would cut their funding.

Proposed changes are meant to provide relief to school districts by eliminating certain parts of the payments they make to charter schools for things like pension, health and building costs.

Charter school groups say such measures turn a blind eye to other funding inequities that favor school districts.