Whereas, the average Pennsylvania school district spends millions of dollars in taxpayer money annually in mandatory payments to brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools; and these payments are calculated in a manner which requires districts to send a disproportionate amount of money to charter schools to operate their programs creating an inequitable distribution of taxpayer resources and placing a significant financial burden on districts; and
Whereas, the current charter school funding formula was established in 1997 under the state's Charter School Law and has not been changed in the 23 years since it was first created; and the formula for general education programs for cyber charter schools is inequitable because it is based on a school district's expenditures and not what a cyber charter school actually spends to educate a child; and
Whereas, because the tuition rate calculations are based on the school district's expenses, they create wide discrepancies in the amount of tuition paid by different districts for the same cyber charter school education; and
Whereas, charter school students make up approximately 37.3% of public school enrollment in Philadelphia but, due to the inequities in the special education funding formula for charter schools, have received nearly 51% of all new education dollars since 2015; and
Whereas, further analysis of PDE data shows that in 2014-15, school districts paid charter schools more than $100 million for special education services in excess of what charter schools reported spending on special education; and
Whereas, the costs of charter schools for school districts continue to grow significantly faster than enrollment in charter schools is growing each year; and on a statewide basis are the most identified source of pressure on school district budgets; and
Whereas, the need for significant charter school funding reform is urgent; and school districts are struggling to keep up with growing charter costs and are forced to raise taxes and cut staffing, programs and services in order to pay increased costs to charter schools;
Now, Therefore Be it Resolved, that the Philadelphia Board of Education calls upon the General Assembly to meaningfully revise the existing inequitable charter school funding systems for general and special education to ensure that school districts and taxpayers are no longer overpaying charter schools or reimbursing for costs the charter schools do not incur. We along with the school boards across Pennsylvania are advocating for substantial change.