School Choice & Charters News in Brief

Pa. Auditor Calls for Moratorium on New Charter Schools

By The Associated Press — October 12, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner called last week for a moratorium on new charter and cyber charter schools, pending an overhaul of a funding system that he said has resulted in serious inequities in how taxpayers finance those alternatives to regular public schools.

The root of the problem, he said, is a state law that requires school districts to pay a charter school tuition rate per pupil based on a district’s costs. That results in different rates paid by different districts to the same charter school. For example, the Hazleton Area district paid about $6,500 to send a student to a charter school in 2008-09, while the Jenkintown district paid more than $16,000 per student.

Taxpayers put $708 million—mostly through local property taxes—into educating about 73,000 students at 127 charter and cyber charter schools in the state in 2008-09.

Mr. Wagner, who released a report based on a review of 18 charter schools and information from the state department of education, urged state policymakers to establish a tuition rate based on the actual costs of instruction and to require charter schools to reconcile their books annually, as districts are required to do.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell agreed that tuition inequities are a problem, but he said that “a flat moratorium probably isn’t a good idea.”

“Clearly [charter schools] are costing the districts,” said Gov. Rendell, a Democrat. “The question is, is it a cost worth paying? And to give choice to create competition in the district, I think, is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that all charter schools are good.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, an advocate for the state’s charters and cyber charters, said Mr. Wagner’s call for a moratorium ignores the fact the schools operate on roughly 70 percent of what regular public schools spend. In addition to the 73,000 students in those schools, 30,000 prospective students are on waiting lists, said Mr. Ciarrocchi, the director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools.

Pennsylvania authorized charter schools in 1997 and cyber charter schools in 2002. Both are independent schools financed by taxpayers, but conventional charter schools operate in buildings and are regulated by the school districts where they are located, while cyber charters generally reach students over the Internet and are regulated by the state.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 13, 2010 edition of Education Week as Pa. Auditor Calls for Moratorium on New Charters

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Opinion 'Control Freaks' Are 'Losing Their Grip' on Education
"School choice evangelist" says new laws are a response to unions, bureaucracies, and K-12 ideologues.
12 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Another State Is Launching a Private School Choice Program. Will More Follow?
Alabama is the 12th state to offer a private school choice program that all students in the state will be eligible to access.
5 min read
Image of students working at desks, wearing black and white school uniforms.
iStock/Getty
School Choice & Charters Tracker Which States Have Private School Choice?
Education savings accounts, voucher, and tax-credit scholarships are growing. This tracker keeps tabs on them so you don't have to.
School Choice & Charters Opinion What's the State of Charter Schools Today?
Even though there's momentum behind the charter school movement, charters face many of the same challenges as traditional public schools.
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty