Update on SASD's Budget Related to Charter Schools

May 8, 2018 

Over the last week, we received mostly positive feedback in response to our recent e-mail about the impact of charter schools on the operating budget.  Thank you to those individuals and groups that have already reached out to your legislators to advocate for charter school reform.

Not surprisingly, however, a few negative voices reached out in opposition to our e-mail and accused the District of an inaccurate and biased representation of charter schools.  To be clear from the start – of course the Souderton Area School District is “biased” in favor of traditional public schools, and it will continue to advocate for reforming flawed legislation.  (So flawed, in fact, that the Pennsylvania Auditor General referred to the 1997 Charter School Law as “the worst in the U.S.” – you can read more by clicking on this article). 

We would like to further review the facts of the impact of charter schools on SASD:

The state mandates that SASD pays $12,527.11 for nonspecial education students this school year.  When the student is classified as special education, that cost nearly triples to $31,915.90.
There are absolutely no cost savings to SASD because students enroll in charter schools.  These students do not leave for charter schools in a way that allows the District to reduce staff or close buildings.
Charter school costs in SASD have more than doubled over the latest 10-year period from $1.8 million to $4.0 million (see Figure 1 below).
The state stopped reimbursing school districts for a portion of its charter school costs in 2011-12, putting the responsibility for funding charter schools squarely on the local taxpayer.

Figure 1
10-Year History of Charter School Spending
Charter school costs in SASD have increased, on average, 12.1% per year over the last 10 years.  For comparison, the total costs for teachers’ salaries – a hotly debated topic – increased, on average, 1.6% over the same period (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2
Average Increase Over 10-Year Period
SASD spends 3.2% of its total budget on charter school tuition.  This is more than almost all critical student support services, and ranks as the 3rd highest percentage in Montgomery County (see Figure 3 below).

Figure 3
% of Total District Spending
Charter school advocates will protest that these e-mails are an attempt to divide our community into “public school” versus “charter school,” but they are not political commentary about the merits of school choice.  The purpose of these e-mails is to educate our residents – almost 80% of which do not even have students in public or private schools – about the significant pressure that charter school tuition exerts on our operating budget.  We appreciate your continued legislative reform efforts.

Thank you,
SASD Leadership