Bill Calls for Funding, Accountability Changes for Charter, Cyber Schools in Pennsylvania

The Democratic chairman of the state House Education Committee is proposing changes to the funding and oversight of cyber charter and charter schools in Pennsylvania.    Representative Jim Roebuck (D-Phila) says the amendments to the state’s Charter and Cyber Charter School law would improve administrative oversight and accountability.

Roebuck says the bill would establish state responsibility for funding cyber charter schools, relieving school districts of a major funding mandate.  He adds that school districts would not receive any state funding for students residing in their district who attend cyber charter schools.

Roebuck says since it is the state, through the Department of Education, that approves, renews and monitors cyber charter schools, he believes it should also be the responsibility of the state to fund those schools.  He says the state cannot afford to delay the issue of funding cyber charter schools, calling the current system an unfair funding mandate on local school districts.

Representative James Roebuck, Jr.

Matt Pryzywara, chief financial officer of the School District of Lancaster, agrees that  a change is needed in the way cyber charter schools are funded.  He says school districts make vastly different payments, with some paying more than the actual cost of instruction and some paying less.  He says this leads to some districts subsidizing cyber school students from other districts.

The bill would also create an office of Charter and Cyber Schools within the state Education Department which would have oversight responsibilities and could investigate complaints of fraud, waste and mismanagement.

Other bills (SB 904, HB 1348) to amend the Charter and Cyber Charter School law have been introduced in the Senate and House.  Representative Roebuck’s bill differs from those in several ways, most notably regarding the funding of Cyber Charter Schools.