Budget Update Regarding Charter Schools, June 12

As we celebrate the end to another successful school year and honor over 560 graduating seniors, we wanted to thank our community members for taking such a positive interest in the last few letters where we sought to educate you – the taxpayer – on the issue of charter school funding.  The number of positive responses supporting our message was overwhelming.  Many of our local legislators have expressed their surprise and concern over the sheer number of phone calls and e-mails they are receiving on this issue.  Your calls and e-mails are working and the need for immediate and sweeping reform is rapidly gaining momentum.  Please keep calling and sending e-mails to our legislators as they are currently in Harrisburg preparing to adopt next year’s state budget, and there is an opportunity to incorporate charter school funding reform into the budget legislation.

While we have received so many positive comments supporting our recent drive to educate the public on the true funding challenges the charter school funding law has imposed on the taxpayer in the Souderton Area School District, we want to take this time to provide a summary of the key points and set the record straight as well:

  • SASD and the Board have long sought to reform charter school funding, and have worked directly with legislators and statewide organizations to help do so.  Superintendent Dr. Frank Gallagher has participated on regional and state panels that have proposed revisions to the charter funding formula.  The Board has adopted resolutions and advocated with our local representatives and senators when charter reform legislation has previously been proposed in Harrisburg.  
  • In 2011, our legislators cut all funding originally provided to our district for the local charter school.  Any supplemental funding included in the state’s (relatively) new basic education subsidy formula is miniscule compared to the cost of charter school students.  The District receives less than $10,000 TOTAL towards the cost of charter schools, while being forced to pay out a minimum of $12,000 PER STUDENT in tuition.   
  • The burden for the charter school funding model increases every year, and there is no incentive or accountability for charter schools to control or reduce costs.  Charter school funding is guaranteed through the Charter School Law, while SASD labors for months to reduce its expenditures and seek alternative revenues to deliver a balanced budget.
  • If our school district did not have a charter school in its boundaries, many residents have asked, "Would we need more teachers and services if all the charter students came back to our schools?"  The answer to this is NO.  Because of our large size, we would be able to welcome these children with no additional resource needs.

Lastly, we have heard from a few people who would like the District to work with the Souderton Charter School Collaborative to negotiate a revised funding framework and achieve funding reform. It is only the Legislature that can amend the laws, so we cannot change the funding framework by ourselves.  We can, however, insist that those responsible for this antiquated law engage in the effort to examine and revise it quickly and with fairness to all taxpayers.  A great place to start would be with the recommendations of the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee in its report, Public Charter School Fiscal Impact on School Districts).  You can read the report summary and recommendations by clicking here, or by accessing the full report here.  
 
Again, we are grateful for the support of our taxpayers who have joined us in our advocacy for a fair charter school funding formula.  Please continue to contact your local legislators whose information is below:

MARCY TOEPEL - REPUBLICAN - DISTRICT 147

Capitol Office

District Office

405 Irvis Office Building

P O Box 202147

Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147

Ph: (717) 787-9501

Fax: (717) 787-8215

1885 Swamp Pike

Suite 107

Gilbertsville, PA 19525-9666

Ph: (610) 323-3299

Fax: (610) 323-3289

mtoepel@pahousegop.com

ROBERT W. GODSHALL - REPUBLICAN - DISTRICT 53

Capitol Office

District Office

150 Main Capitol Building

PO Box 202053

Harrisburg, PA 17120-2053

Ph: (717) 783-6428

Fax: (717) 787-7424

1702 Cowpath Road

Hatfield, PA 19440

Ph: (215) 368-3500

Fax: (215) 361-4220

rgodshal@pahousegop.com

SENATOR BOB MENSCH - REPUBLICAN - DISTRICT 24

Capitol Office

District Office

459 Main Capitol Building

Senate Box 203024

Harrisburg, PA 17120-3024

Ph: (717) 787-3110

Fax: (717) 787-8004

56 West Fourth Street

Floor 2

Red Hill, PA 18076

Ph: (215) 541-2388

Fax: (215) 541-2387

bmensch@pasen.gov
twitter.com/SenatorMensch
FACEBOOK: Senator Bob Mensch

SENATOR STEWART GREENLEAF - REPUBLICAN - DISTRICT 12

Capitol Office

District Office

19 East Wing

Senate Box 203012

Harrisburg, PA 17120-3012

Ph: (717) 787-6599

711 York Road

Willow Grove, PA 19090

Ph: (215) 657-7700

Fax: (215) 657-1885

sgreenleaf@pasen.gov
twitter.com/SenGreenleaf
FACEBOOK: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf