clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Temple prof: Pa. cyber charters are turning huge profits, sending tax dollars out of state

Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Fewer teachers. No school building. No heating bill. Same cost.

You’d think Pennsylvania’s 16 cyber charter schools, which teach home-based students via the Web, would spend a lot less per student than brick-and-mortar schools.

Not so.

They collect as much money per student as the state’s brick-and-mortar charter schools. Despite a call from Gov. Corbett to do otherwise, the state still doesn’t ask how much it actually costs to educate students in cyber charters to proficiency standards (nor does it, actually, for any of its schools).

Instead — as it does for brick-and-mortar charters — the state simply demands that school districts turn 70 percent to 80 percent of their normal per-pupil costs over to the cybers. (School districts are allowed to deduct certain expenses such as debt-service and transportation costs from their payments to charter schools.)

Those costs, of course, differ greatly from one school district to another. And since the state’s cyber charters can take students from any of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, they receive wildly different funding rates depending on a student’s home base.

If a regular-education student from Lower Merion School District attended a cyber charter in 2011-12, Lower Merion (which then had a per-pupil expenditure of $22,140.70) sent the cyber charter about $17,000.

If a regular-education student from the Philadelphia School District attended the same cyber charter, Philadelphia (which then had a per-pupil expenditure of $12,351.74) sent the cyber charter about $8,500.

Same cyber school. Same cyber-education. Outrageously different price tag.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

Help Chalkbeat raise $80k by Dec 31

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom filling a vital community need. We could not do this without you, and we need your support to keep going in 2022.

Connect with your community

Find upcoming Philadelphia events

Sign up for the newsletter Chalkbeat Philadelphia

Sign up for our newsletter.