-- House Bill 530
, which is intended to make improvements and reforms in the operation of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, was approved 118-78 by the House this week, said Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset), author of the proposal.
“Families choosing a different option for their child’s education should be assured that their new school is performing well,” Reese said. “In turn, all taxpayers should be provided that same assurance – that the schools funded with their tax dollars are of the highest quality.”
The bill proposes that charter schools use an academic performance matrix developed by the Pennsylvania Board of Education and that teacher evaluations be performed, which is similar to traditional public schools. It also aims to increase enforcement of current truancy laws. Charter schools meeting certain academic benchmarks will be given extended charter terms. Also included is language to improve public transparency and auditing requirements.
House Bill 530 also addresses a long-standing problem with the funding formula for cyber charter schools. It allows school districts to deduct food service costs and cyber education expenses from the previous year from their per-pupil expense paid to cyber charter schools. Combined, the deductions are estimated to save public school districts across the state roughly $27 million annually.
Also under the bill, a charter school funding advisory commission will work toward identifying further improvements. The commission will include members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate and various education professionals with equal representation from both charter entities and school districts.
“Cyber education is growing in popularity and the expense is being handed down to local school districts,” Reese said. “But the funding formula for cyber charter schools is inappropriate and needs to be re-written.”
The bill will now be considered by the Senate.
Representative Mike Reese
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Raymond Smith