June 9, 2024

Joe Ciresi: You’re paying for Pa.’s cyber charter schools. You deserve to know where your money goes

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Joe Ciresi is a Pennsylvania legislator who would like the state to fix its terrible cyber charter funding rules. Maybe this will finally be the year.

Let’s get the dirty little secret out right now: cyber charter schools – all charter schools, in fact – are paid for with your money.

Those property tax bills you pay to your local school district? Parents who choose to send their kids to cyber charter schools get that money for the tuition.

All those fancy commercials you see? You’re paying for it.

All those ads at sports stadiums you see? You’re paying for it.

All those educational trips to theme parks and gift cards for parents you see? You’re paying for it.

All those mascots and RVs and giveaways you see at public events? You’re paying for it.

Just this week a “non-profit” cyber charter school invited lawmakers to join them for an end of the year celebration at – yes – trampoline parks (about $30 per kid per day admission) all over the state and record videos for the schools. You’re paying for all of it.

But, there’s something you’re not seeing when it comes to where your money is going when it goes to cyber charter schools. In the last few years, the four biggest cyber charter schools have been padding their bank accounts from just over a half-million dollars to just under a half-billion dollars. What’s concerning is a lot of that increase is related to the cybers purchasing buildings and land – which shouldn’t be a priority for online schools.

To add injury to injury, while these private companies are raking in your dollars you’re being hit again as so many local school districts are forced to raise property taxes to make up the gap. When so many districts are struggling to maintain infrastructure it’s hard to justify the limited funds being used by a third party to buy buildings somewhere else.

Read the full op-ed here. 

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