Due to the ongoing state budget impasse, the Parkland School District Board of School Directors voted tonight to withhold Charter School tuition payments for 226 resident students attending those schools, equating to approximately $200,000 per month.
Under Charter School Law, school districts are supposed to pay charter schools 12 equal monthly payments which equate to the annual amount owed for a resident student attending the charter school. If payments are not made, the tuition amount owed the Charter School is deducted from the school district’s state subsidy. Until now the Parkland School District has made payments timely. However, with no state budget in place, future payments have become problematic.
During the budget impasse, school districts are not receiving any state subsidies. Richard T. Sniscak, Superintendent of Schools stated, “If a school district refuses to pay a charter school, the Secretary of Education is authorized to make deductions from the district’s state subsidy payments to pay Charter School invoices. Before doing so, the Charter School must submit documentation to the Department of Education to show the money is owed by the district. Afterwards, the Department must notify the district of its action and offer an opportunity to change the subsidy deduction.”
The Parkland School District currently has 126 students attending brick and mortar charter schools and 100 students attending cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania. The total amount of tuition that Parkland paid for 226 students to attend the charters last year equated to approximately $2.4M per year or about $200,000 per month. This does NOT include transportation costs associated with bussing students to eight brick and mortar charter schools within a 10-mile radius of Parkland School District’s boundaries.
Roberta M. Marcus, President of the Parkland Board of School Directors and Master School Board Director stated, “This drives home the point that offering school choices comes with a cost that directly impacts our taxpayers. We don’t feel that the General Assembly intended the Charter School Law to exempt charters from bearing a share of the fiscal impacts the current budget impasse is causing traditional public schools, or force school districts to hand over hypothetical subsidies that we are currently not receiving.”