from the inbox:
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., today was joined by the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., to announce a new charter school reform proposal, the Charter Learning Accountability School Sustainability Act, or CLASS. The CLASS Act is aimed at achieving greater academic accountability, funding equalization and transparency within the charter and cyber charter school system.
McCarter’s legislation would offer several key revisions to the current charter school law to provide much needed relief to local taxpayers by creating one statewide cyber charter school district to be administered by the state Department of Education. It is estimated that this component of the CLASS Act couldeventually save school districts approximately $230 million to $250 million annually statewide.
A second component of McCarter’s plan would stipulate that students enrolled in charter schools and cyber charter schools with special needs receive the services they require by assigning responsibility to the local intermediate unit.
"By requiring that special education services be assigned to the local intermediate unit, we can assure that there are no overpayments of services to charter schools or cyber charter schools for special needs services," McCarter said.
As an individual who cares deeply about the quality of public education in Pennsylvania, I believe these reforms aimed at the governance, academic accountability, funding equalization and financing of charter and cyber charter schools are essential to ensure our children are getting the best education possible," McCarter said. "This legislation, along with Rep. Roebuck’s HB 934, would go beyond other charter and cyber charter school reform proposals and I urge my fellow legislator’s support."
"I commend Rep. McCarter for his efforts to hold these publicly funded schools accountable and protect students and taxpayers," Roebuck said. "The recent report by the Democratic staff of the Education Committee shows the need for reforms of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, and I believe support for reform is growing."
McCarter’s bill would also eliminate overpayments currently allowed under existing law commonly referred to as the "double dip." Under current Pennsylvania law, the formula for calculating how much school districts pay charter schools for each student includes funding for employee pensions, even though the state reimburses charter schools for these costs. Charter schools are paid twice, once from the school district and once from the state.
"This bill would also benefit the taxpayers of Pennsylvania as it aims to create more transparency in the governance and business operation of charter schools by limiting charter school’s ability to amass large surplus accounts and ensure that precious taxpayer dollars are used for the delivery of education, not for profit-sharing investors," McCarter said. "By ensuring that money allocated to charter schools is used to benefit students and not spent on advertising or lobbying, we ensure that our tax dollars are spent properly."
The total savings from these reforms would make an estimated $500 million available for public school funding.