Mar. 11, 2015

Legislation seeks to balance public school, cyber-charter education
HARRISBURG – Legislation that seeks to strike a fair balance between different types of educational opportunities in Pennsylvania passed the state House last week, said Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna).
“With charter schools and cyber alternatives growing in popularity around the state, they are giving parents more options than ever about how best to educate their children,” Pickett said. “However, we need to ensure that our state laws keep up with the pace of these entities and that they receive fair funding and oversight, compared to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. This legislation seeks to strike that balance.”
House Bill 530 would improve the funding formula used for charter and cyber charter education, since much of the tuition is borne by local school districts, and therefore, local taxpayers. The formula would include actual costs to educate a student. Making these changes to the charter funding formula – including deductions of food service costs and cyber education expenses incurred during the previous year from their per-pupil expense paid to cyber charter schools – could save taxpayers about $27 million each year.
Additionally, to streamline funding, payments to charters would be dispersed from the state Department of Education to flow directly to the charter school entity. To help ensure the funding formula keeps pace, a charter school funding advisory commission would be created to identify further improvements.
Under the bill, provisions are included to increase accountability and transparency by requiring an academic performance matrix developed by the Pennsylvania Board of Education to measure and assess the academic performance of the schools, and high-performing schools would be granted 10-year renewal terms.
The proposal would also call for teacher evaluations to be conducted in the same way that public school teachers are rated. Another reform would implement a series of ethical restrictions.
“We all want our children to succeed in the type of classroom setting that works for them, but we want to make sure we have a level playing field across all the options available,” Pickett added.
The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
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