Some charter school leaders are concerned with Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed education budget, which they said would cut funding for charter schools.
Tim Eller, executive director of the Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools said in a statement that the proposed budget would “effectively shut down charter schools across Pennsylvania.”
“The governor’s spending plan would benefit the adults … in the system at the expense of students, and prevent parents from having the option of sending their child to a high-quality charter school,” Eller said. “This budget would severely limit a charter school’s ability to provide a high-quality education to its students, and potentially result in the closing of charter schools across the state.”
Levent Kaya, principal at Young scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School in Ferguson Township, is hoping the lack of charter school funding would go toward other areas of education.
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“Gov. Wolf’s budget includes proposals that makes the cuts to PSERS (Public School Employees’ Retirement System) reimbursements to charter schools permanent, and return of unreserved fund balances of charter schools back to the school districts,” Kaya said. “In my opinion, whichever school the parents choose to send their children should get the allocated funding.”
Eller said that public schools have fund balances of more than $1.7 billion — more than 10 times the amount of charter schools.
“If the governor is going to require charter schools to return excess funds to school districts, he should also require school districts to return their excess funds to taxpayers,” Eller said.
The cost for each Centre County school district to send a student to a charter school varies.
Ken Bean, Bellefonte’s director of fiscal affairs, said the district pays about $11,000 for a regular education student within the district to attend a charter school, and about $22,000 for a special education student.
Penns Valley’s cost for a regular education student is $9,836.20, and $15,068.02 for a special education student, district business manager Jef Wall said.
According to a report from the Keystone Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter schools receive about 20 percent less in per-pupil funding than public school districts.
“Fund balances help charter schools balance their budgets by financing unforeseen costs, year-to-year revenue shortfalls and emergency expenses,” Eller said. “Modest reserves and long-term financial planning for schools is a financial best practice. This proposed limitation on fund balances virtually eliminates long-term planning.”