Posted on October 24, 2013 by Jon Geeting, at Keystone Politics
(This guest post comes to us from friend of the blog Susan Spicka)
Cash-strapped school districts and tapped out home and business owners have been begging the PA legislature to reform its broken charter school funding law. Under current law, charter and cyber charter school tuition payments are not based on charter schools’ actual costs of educating children. In many cases, tuition rates to charter schools are so bloated that charter school operators are able to pocket millions of taxpayer dollars at the same time that our local school districts are raising taxes and slashing programs to pay their charter school tuition bills.
SB 1085 would close to so-called “pension double-dip” loophole in the current law by eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for their pension costs. Local school districts would continue to provide the funds that are used to pay the pension costs of charter school teachers.
SB 1085 is a rotten deal for school districts and for home and business owners, who pay property taxes to support our local public schools. If SB 1085 becomes law, the legislature will continue to mandate that home and business owners pay the pension costs of teachers who are not even employed by their school districts. School districts would find little relief from the burdensome charter school tuition payments, which range from around $8,000 to more than $30,000 per student per year.
SB 1085 is a truly sweet deal for the PA legislature. Eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for its share of pension costs would return $65 million to the PA General Fund. PA politicians would be free to spend this extra revenue as they please. Without a funding formula in place to allocate tax dollars to school districts, powerful legislators can cut deals behind closed doors, just like they did this year, and use the $65 million windfall to provide additional funding to a few of their favorite districts and make some voters happy in 2014, which happens to be an election year.
Adding insult to injury, SB 1085 would strip the power of our locally-elected school boards to approve or deny the opening of charter schools in our communities….
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