PSBA Legislative Priority Issue: Enact Meaningful Charter School Reforms

PSBA believes that the state must enact comprehensive reforms to address areas of charter school operations, accountability and funding.

The average Pennsylvania school district spends millions of dollars in taxpayer money annually in mandatory payments to brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools. The current charter school funding formula was established in 1997 under the state's Charter School Law and has not been changed in the 24+ years since it was first created. The formulas for regular and special education programs are unfair because they based on a school district’s expenditures and not what it actually costs to educate a child in the charter school.

These payments require districts to send more money to charter schools than is needed to operate their programs and place a significant financial burden on districts’ resources and taxpayers. Overpayments are being made and this is particularly true for cyber charters. For a deeper explanation, facts and figures on charter school funding, go to the Keystone Center for Charter Change at PSBA.

Governor’s charter reform plan

The 2021-22 budget proposal offered by Gov. Tom Wolf includes a call for comprehensive Charter School Law reform that he estimates will save school districts about $229 million per year. Rep. Joseph Ciresi (D-Montgomery) introduced House Bill 272, which contains components of the governor’s charter reform package. PSBA supports House Bill 272.

Click here for details on the governor’s charter reform proposal. 

PSBA opposes flawed charter reform plan under Senate Bill 1. Click here for more information.

PSBA opposes charter expansion proposal under House Bill 1685. Click here for more information.

The need for charter funding reform

We need a new system that is tied to the actual costs to educate a child enrolled in a charter school. The General Assembly is urged to provide savings by adopting permanent charter school funding reforms that are predictable, accurate and reflect the actual costs to educate students in regular and special education programs. Charter funding reform will create savings that will stay within the district, benefitting all their students while controlling costs. Districts will be able to reinvest their funds to their students and their classrooms.

For cyber charter regular education tuition:

  • The General Assembly should adopt a common-sense plan, which includes a statewide flat rate for regular education tuition that more accurately funds cyber charter schools to ensure that school districts and taxpayers are no longer overpaying these schools.

For charter special education tuition:

  • The General Assembly should enact legislation to apply a tiered special education funding formula to charter schools in the same manner as it did for school districts.

Click here for talking points to use with legislators.

Send a letter to your legislators! Click the Take Action button to send a letter to your members of the Senate and House of Representatives asking for charter funding reform.

Calling all school boards to adopt the resolution

Join PSBA’s efforts to change the existing flawed charter school funding formulas for regular and special education.

Now more than ever, there is a growing momentum from school officials across the state to call for charter school funding reform. Legislators are hearing loud and clear that school districts need relief from the unfair funding system that results in school districts overpaying millions of dollars to charter schools.

The school boards from the following districts have adopted resolutions calling for charter funding reform. This list will be updated regularly.