Urging cyber changes

As our school districts prepare their budgets for next school year, cyber charter school tuition payments for students who do not attend district schools diverts significant resources from our budgets.

When it comes to cyber charter school tuition, our school districts and taxpayers are overpaying these schools, and we must address this issue now.

The tuition rate for cyber charter schools is based only on school district costs, and in Blair and Huntingdon counties, our districts are paying anywhere from just more than $6,000 to just more than $9,000 per student to send a student to the same cyber charter school.

As a result, cyber charter schools are paid far in excess of their actual costs, while school districts are forced to eliminate programs and activities, cut staff and raise property taxes.

There are several quick and easy changes that can be made to the tuition calculation to ensure that we stop overpaying cyber charter schools.

These include allowing school districts to deduct the costs of programs and services that aren’t offered by cyber charter schools, such as food and health services, and by ending the pension “double dip,” which results in cyber charter schools being paid twice for their employee retirement costs, once by districts and again by the state.

These changes alone would save millions of dollars for school districts and taxpayers each year.

As the Legislature picks up speed and begins budget discussions, I urge them to address the important issue of cyber charter funding reform.

I applaud Rep. Mike Fleck for proposing solutions to end the overpayment and for leading the charge to bring about these common sense changes for school districts and taxpayers.

Changes to the cyber charter funding formula are overdue. Our districts and taxpayers can’t wait for relief any longer.

Janice R. Metzgar