April 5, 2022

Helen Sitler: Cyber charter funding reform needed

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has been trying to reform Pennsylvania’s broken cyber charter funding system. In this letter to the editor in Pittsburgh’s Tribune-Review, Helen Sitler explains why he deserves support.

Despite ads on TV, cybercharter schools are not free. Your school district property taxes fund them. That funding needs to change because it continues to drive your taxes up.

Pennsylvania has 500 school districts. By law, each district must pay a different tuition per student for attendance at a cybercharter. None of those 500 different tuitions reflects the actual cost to educate one student online.

Cybercharters have no expenses for buses, cafeterias, electricity, maintenance of multiple buildings and other overhead that every school district pays for. In fact, cybers had so much funding that between 2019 and 2021, they spent $35 million tax dollars on advertising alone.

School choice and cybercharter funding reform are both possible. Harrisburg legislators simply must be willing to set one flat rate for cyberschool tuition, a rate that reflects actual costs. Your property taxes can be stabilized, and parents who want school choice can have it. Everyone wins.

School districts cannot change state law. Legislators must. Call your Harrisburg representative. Ask why school districts have borne excessive costs for cybercharters since 2002. Say that your property taxes should support only actual costs. Ask that legislator to support cybercharter funding reform.

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