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School Superintendents Unite Against Charter Schools

As Pennsylvania legislature considers charter schools bill, area superintendents issued a statement condemning lack of oversight and public school funding of cyber and charter schools.

Note: This is an edited version of the original story. Ed.

Superintendents from five area counties issued a Friday condemning the use of public school budgets to fund charter schools and criticized them for not being subject to the same government oversight and mandates as public schools.

"...Using vouchers to fund private schools or to funnel public school dollars away from local schools to fund charter schools is fundamentally wrong and inequitable," the group of 26 superintendents said in the news release. The school districts included Lehigh and Northampton counties.

"Local schools are mandated to play by different rules than charters and private schools and private schools are subjected to far less government oversight and unfunded mandates."

The statement was issued at a time when the House is about to consider Senate Bill 1, which would make it easier for charter schools to open, and remove local school districts' authority to approve them and give it to the state.

The superintendents said cyber charter schools were particularly subjected to inequitable funding.

"We believe that our legislators know the cyber charter school funding formula is defective, yet it remains uncorrected," the statement said.

In an article in The Morning Call, Salisbury Township School District Superintendent Robert Gross cited Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School of the Lehigh Valley's financial and managerial problems as an example of the lack of oversight.

"We can't expect local school districts to be the local oversight mechanism to go in and review the fiscal operations and the academic operations of each of the charter schools, because that's not our charge," Gross said in the article.

The Salisbury Township School Board will review Thomas Lubben's application to open the, a performing arts middle school in the district, at a Dec. 12 public hearing. Lubben founded the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, but retired from there more than a year ago.

The superintendents' report cited data that showed charter schools performed lower on the 2010-11 Pennsylvania Systems of School Assessment tests than their public school counterparts

Public schools, which are required to pay for students in their district who attend charter schools, are losing millions of dollars because the state no longer gives partial reimbursement. Salisbury has lost $500,000, Gross said.

"School choice is not a bad thing," Gross said in the article."What we're saying is let's do it properly and let's not burden the local taxpayer and the local school district."

smiller December 12, 2011 at 06:41 PM
My point is that no student has taxes attached to them personally. Everyone in a community funds the district - not just a student. Also, those three Catholic HS are fed from at least 7 districts and at least 9 HS buildings. That comes out to 200 at each school in four grades. Not that savings your group continually predicts. Public dollars should not and can not be legally used to support religious education in PA.
Rosemary B December 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Caribbean queen, that is not it at all. I am in favor of spending education tax dollars in ways that will create citizens who can take care of themselves and this country in the future. If spending tax dollars to meet the individual educational needs of ALL kids does that then that is what I am in favor of. That is what school choice does. It is an uneducated population that needs and cries out for a nanny state not an educated one.
I Am Knowledge January 09, 2012 at 10:05 PM
One size fits all school system? Are you kidding me? There are so many options in the publlic schools, it's amazing! College prep, prep with honors classes, prep with AP classes, VoTech (with 56 different varieties alone), business classes, technology classes. Gezzuz. So many choices. But no choice that makes a left sider on the bell curve appear like a genius. Accept you kids for what they are and try to get them an education that will make them competitive. More kids should go to Tech. We have enough assistant KMart managers.
John June 01, 2012 at 02:27 AM
1. Public schools are run like governments rather than businesses. When they have a shortfall, primarily due to incompetence in fiscal management, they simply raise taxes to fund their incompetence. 2. Charter schools are owned and operated by individuals or investors, usually both. It gains it's income from the taxes that are structured within a district. Therefore, why would any charter school go inner-city, when the ax base is minimal. The challenge is what happens to the charter school if local and municipal funding were to be removed? Not only is the Charter system an added burden to the school district, but rather than sending a child to a private school or parochial school, which is predominantly funded by parents, the Charter school will dramatically offer a considerably cheaper option for parents, thereby stressing to privates and parochials. Eventually, it will create a stress on the public entities as well, decreasing enrollments and decreasing dollars. NOTE- see the number of 'Directors' of Charter schools who leave after a few years, as well as the scores of the Charter schools. It's all about profitability and cost shifting. And what happens to the children from the inner city who want to attend Charter schools in affluent communities? Is there an equal amount spent on them as those from the burbs? And who is financing it? The inner city tax or suburbia's tax ?

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