More Outreach Urged To ‘Grove Charter Families

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Possibly it’s a need for more follow-up, school board member Bill Parker suggested, or maybe even a lack of marketing. Whatever the reason he urged the Pottsgrove School District and his colleagues, during last week’s meeting of the Board of School Directors, to “address the problem” of what appears to be a sudden shift of Pottsgrove students to charter schools.

Pottsgrove during the 2019-2020 academic year expects to spend about $588,000 more on charter school tuition payments than it did this year, Business Administrator David Nester repeated at the board’s May 28 (2019; Tuesday) gathering. The increase is unanticipated, and perplexes district administrators.

Under state law district residents can choose to have their children attend charter schools, of either the bricks-and-mortar or cyber (online) varieties, instead of public schools, and their attendance costs must be paid by the district. The jump in next year’s charter school tuitions is part of an overall $2.3 million in added expenses Pottsgrove faces over the next 12 months.

The Post today is publishing a package of three stories related to charter schools. Read:

Some costs have been successfully whittled down in the proposed district budget, and directors have agreed to use accumulated cash and a small property tax increase to cover a remaining $240,000 deficit. They appear ready to vote approval later this month on a tax hike of seven-tenths of 1 percent, or roughly $23 for the district’s “average” valued property.

Money won’t solve a bigger problem, Parker observed. “What are we doing to reach out?” to those who select charter schools as an option, he asked publicly. “We’ve got to do more, not less, in that regard,” Parker added.

The district years ago established its own cyber-charter school, the Pottsgrove Virtual Academy, in an effort to compete with outsiders. It’s also mounted various campaigns, with limited success, to keep parents aware that it offers alternatives for students in grades 6-12 to absorbing education in a Pottsgrove classroom.

Parker said he hopes the district will continue those efforts, and do more. It should conduct interviews to determine why families prefer charter schools over Pottsgrove, he said, and use that information to make the virtual academy or classroom options even more attractive.

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