Pottsgrove Endorses Proposed Charter School Reforms

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – A charter school reforms proposal to be officially introduced Friday (Feb. 26, 2021) at 1 p.m. by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf won two hours’ advance support in an 11 a.m. endorsement from the Pottsgrove School District and its superintendent, Dr. William Shirk Jr.

“We are grateful that Governor Wolf and members of the General Assembly understand the urgent need for charter school funding reform for Pennsylvania taxpayers. This bipartisan proposal will end overpayments to charter schools that have driven up property taxes and preserve parent choice,” Shirk wrote.

Charter and cyber-charter schools in the state are independently operated but public non-profit corporations. They were created to provide alternative educational opportunities for families and their students. However, “charter schools do not charge students tuition; they receive the majority of funding from their students’ resident school districts,” the state Department of Education notes.

As a result, districts’ pay thousands of dollars per student annually for charter school enrollments, while also lacking control over curriculum or operations. That’s prompted support for reform of their funding, with specifics expected from Wolf’s announcement. The proposal must yet be approved by the Legislature.

Shirk wrote that Pottsgrove’s letter was offered on behalf of its residents in an effort “to ensure fair and equitable educational funding.” Find a PDF copy of the letter, created by The Post, here. It continued:

“The proposed legislation will save $229 million dollars for school districts this year, but more importantly, it will finally address the biggest cost drivers in school district budgets. To continue on the current path is financially unsustainable.”

“Our current funding system allows charter schools to divert resources meant for students with disabilities for other purposes. It also forces school districts to pay twice as much for cyber charter programs than we pay for our own remote learning programs. Neither is acceptable. Both must be changed.”

“We thank Governor Wolf, Representatives Joe Ciresi and Tracy Pennycuick, and Senators Lindsay Williams and Jim Brewster for leading this effort. We urge the General Assembly to move swiftly to enact these reforms and put Pennsylvania on the path toward a more accountable and fiscally sound charter funding system.”

It included a link, here, directing readers to a state Education Department website page describing the charter school reforms proposal.

Pottsgrove High School photo by The Post