Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf addressed his concerns with the charter schools law within the state. He described it as “one of the worst in the country” and that it is “failing” many people who depend on it. Because of this, he pledged to reform these schools and increase accountability for them. While charter schools cost the state $1.8 billion, school districts and the state have limited authority in holding them accountable. This allows charter schools to not be held to the same ethical and transparency standards as other public schools are within the state. It is because of this that the Governor announced his plan to enact a “fee-for-service model.”
New Fees for Charter Schools
A charter school is a public school that is privately operated. Districts within the state of Pennsylvania pay these schools tuition for every student who attends a charter school. This is based upon what the district spends per student. In the event that there is a disagreement between a district and a charter school over the tuition payment, charter schools can ask the Pennsylvania Department of Education to redirect the tuition from the district’s state subsidy to the charter school.
Governor Wolf’s office said that the Department processed over 13,500 requests in the year 2018 alone. The Governor estimated that the Department spends tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to review these redirection requests and come to decisions on them. It is because of this that he decided to implement the “fee-for-service” model.
The new “fee-for-service” model was first proposed by the Governor with other regulations as a part of his overall plan. The model includes a $15 redirection payment for the requesting school. This fee will begin on September 15 of this year. In addition to this, new cyber charter applicants are to be charged $86,000 beginning January 1, 2020. This charges charter schools in order to fix the payment disputes with the local school districts. The overall plan is to recover the costs of implementing the charter school law.
When announcing the model, Governor Tom Wolf said, “These fees will help the Pennsylvania Department of Education recoup costs they are incurring right now by charter schools. This will allow more money to go toward where it should go, tax dollars toward educating our children.”
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