Deeper dive needed on cyber students’ cost

As I read Russ O’Reilly’s article, “Schools strained by cyber options,” in the May 13 edition of the Mirror, several questions came to mind that were not addressed in that article.

I realize that space limitations prevent you from doing a deep dive on things. But if there will be a followup article, here are some questions you might want to ask:

– How many cyberstudents are the Altoona Area School District and Hollidaysburg Area School District taxpayers currently paying for, respectively? That information would allow an easy calculation of the average cost per student. Without it, the $1,000,000 and $700,000 figures cited in the article have insufficient context.

– How does this average cost compare to the average cost to educate a non-cyber student? Is it the case that there are a variety of cyberschool options? I assume there are, but I don’t know.

– Do AASD and HASD have approximately the same average cost per student? If not, why not?

– If the taxpayers stop paying the cost of cyberschooled students, and all of the current cyberstudents then opted for conventional classroom education, what would be the net difference in costs? Would it be a savings, or would it actually cost more?

– Have the politicians or school districts run those numbers?

One final comment: It’s the taxpayers who pay the cost, not the school districts. The school districts are only the conduit. To say that the school district pays the cost glosses over this all-important distinction that almost always gets overlooked in news media coverage of government spending issues.

Erik Brown

Hollidaysburg

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