Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364? Charter school funding, accountability and transparency

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Is your State Rep. on the cosponsor list for HB 2364?
Charter school funding, accountability and transparency

Thanks to Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin) and Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) for introducing this legislation.

From PSBA: Highlights of HB 2364 include reform of these key areas:
Funding -- Currently school districts determine payments for students who reside in the districts attending charter and cyber charter schools based on estimated average daily membership minus certain budgeted expenditures. HB 2364 updates the Charter School Law to correct these flaws:
  • Removes the "double dip" for pension costs, creating an estimated savings of $510 million by 2016-17. Currently, a school district's cost for retirement is not subtracted from expenditures; thereby setting up a "double dip" for charter schools since state laws guarantees them state reimbursement for their retirement costs.
  • Eliminates non-instructional services from tuition payment to charters. HB 2364 removes expenditures for athletic funds, nonpublic school programs and services, and tuition payments for charter schools from the charter tuition calculation as they are unrelated to charter operational costs.
  • Limits unassigned fund balances for charter and cyber charter schools consistent with traditional public schools.

Special Education Funding -- HB 2364 establishes these funding changes that relate to special education costs:
  • Funding for special education students would be set as the actual cost of service, based on a year-end audit.
  • Reimbursement to charter schools would be capped at the same level that school districts receive from the state.
  • The resident school district would have the option to provide the service at the district's expense in lieu of paying the charter school special education formula rate.

Transparency and Accountability -- Changes here include:
  • A year-end audit and reconciliation process would be established to ensure charter schools are being paid for actual cost of providing educational services to students.
  • Audits would be public information, addressing the need for transparency by all parties engaged in charter schools, including educational service providers and contractors.
  • Provisions to protect against possible financial or other types of conflicts of interest between charter school boards and local, state officials and others.
  • Provisions to streamline administrative processes such as determining residency of the student.
  • Provisions regarding truancy place responsibility with the charter school.

"The average cost for a charter school student's education is $5,000," said Wagner. "Districts on average pay about $10,000. Whenever you hear an ad on the radio for a charter school, that's your extra taxpayer money at work."

October 2011: Pennsylvania Auditor General Calls for Revamping of Charter School Funding

PA Auditor General’s Office: Taxpayers and school districts could have saved approximately $86 million in 2009-2010 if cybers received funding based on what they spent per student.

Keystone State Education Coalition May 21, 2012
PA Charter Schools: Public funding without public scrutiny
$4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Pa. House member introduces bill to change charter school funding formula

By JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News  Published: Monday, June 04, 2012, 2:51 PM
It's time to change the state's 15-year-old charter school law to bring the funding formula in line with actual costs that these independent public schools incur and provide more accountability for the funds they receive, said Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon.
At a Capitol news conference, Fleck acknowledged that charters are here to stay. "However, I think it's time we have a thorough examination of how they operate," he said.
His bill (the legislation's language is expected to be available today) would eliminate the so-called "double dip" for pension costs that school districts forecast would save them $500 million over the next five years.
It also would require annual year-end audits to ensure charter schools are paid for actual educational services provided to students, including special needs students. 
It also would put a cap on a charter school's unassigned  fund balances similar to the 8 to 12 percent of operating budget caps that school districts must observe. And it would cut out funding for non-instructional services, such as advertising and lobbying, by charter schools.

Pa. bill would place curbs on charter schools

By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau June 5, 2012 12:20 am
HARRISBURG -- A proposal to increase oversight of charter schools and place new limits on the tuition charged to school districts has won support from Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives but not from the charters.
Legislation introduced Monday by Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, would change the charter school funding formula so school districts no longer include athletic funds, charter school tuition payments and the full employer pension contribution to determine their average spending per student. It would require charter schools to undergo annual audits, with the results made public, and ban them from using public money to advertise for more students.
Representatives of school boards, district administrators and the state's largest teacher union praised the measure, while advocates for charter schools protested it as a threat to the future of some schools. Mr. Fleck insisted he believes charter schools are here to stay but require greater oversight.
"This bill is about accountability," he said. "It's not going to shut the charter schools down. It's going to make a level playing field to make sure that our tax dollars are well spent, that we are educating our children within the commonwealth, whatever model of public education we are using."
Twenty-six House Republicans and 11 Democrats have signed on as sponsors of the bill. Rep. James Roebuck of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, said the proposal should go into effect next school year.

New House bill would tighten state oversight of charter schools
Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek 6/4/2012
You can add state Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Blair, to the chorus of voices in this spring's simmering debate over charter school reform. This morning, the north-central Pennsyvlania lawmaker used a Capitol press conference to debut a bill that he says would save public school districts money by, among other things, requiring both cyber- and bricks-and-mortar charter schools to undergo annual audits to determine their funding needs for the folllowing school year.

Prior related postings:

Letter from the Editor: Governor isn’t winning fans in Upper Darby
Published: Monday, June 04, 2012
Delco Times By PHIL HERON editor@delcotimes.com
These are not the best times for Gov. Tom Corbett. The good folks in Upper Darby are feeling pretty much the same way. And I would guess Upper Darby School Superintendent Lou DeVlieger could also claim membership in that club.
A lot of this stems from the recent harsh budget and curriculum cuts proposed by the district. The plan is to save $4 million — only a fraction of what they actually owe — by dropping pink slips on a lot of teachers and eliminating the tradition of “special” classes in music and art for elementary school kids, tech and language specials in the middle schools, and phys ed for elementary kids.
Oh, and they’re also raising taxes, something that has not seemed to raise anywhere near the hackles that the loss of the “specials’ has.

“the state share of all funding for public education in Pennsylvania fell from 55 percent in 1975 to 37 percent in 2011.
GUEST COLUMN: Corbett's budget a disaster for Pa.
Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012
By JOSEPH P. BATORY Delco Times Guest Columnist
Let the record show that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s short budgetary “reign of terror” will have slashed instructional subsidy funding to public education across Pennsylvania by just under $1 billion over two years. Ironically, Pennsylvania percentage share of funding public schools statewide already ranks somewhere around 45th among the 50 states in terms of percentage of state funding for public education.

Here are more than 700 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
The PA House Democratic Caucus has been tracking daily press coverage on school district budgets statewide:

June 29 is deadline to submit proposals for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform
Your school board is invited to submit proposals for consideration for PSBA’s 2013 Legislative Platform. The association is accepting proposals now until Friday, June 29, 2012.  Guidelines for platform submissions are posted on PSBA’s Web site.  The PSBA Platform Committee will review proposals and rationale submitted for the platform on Aug. 11. The recommendations of the committee will be brought before the Legislative Policy Council for a final vote on Oct. 18.

PSBA accepting nominations for the Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award
Last year, PSBA created a new award to honor the memory of its long-term chief lobbyist, who died unexpectedly. The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA's Legislative Platform. The nomination process is now open and applications will be accepted until June 22, 2012. The award will be presented during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in October. For more information and criteria details, see the Allwein Advocacy Award page. To obtain an application form, see the Allwein Advocacy Award Nomination Form. Completed forms should be returned no later than June 22 to: Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Advocacy Award Selection Committee, PO Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-0790.

Absentee ballot procedures for election of PSBA officers
PSBA website 6/1/2012
All school directors and school board secretaries who are eligible to vote and who do not plan to attend the association's annual business meeting during the 2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference in Hershey, Oct. 16-19, may request an absentee ballot for election purposes.
The absentee ballot must be requested from the PSBA executive director in accordance with the PSBA Bylaws provisions (see PSBA Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4, J-Q.). Specify the name and mailing address of each individual for whom a ballot is requested.
Requests must be in writing, e-mailed or mailed first class and postmarked or marked received at PSBA Headquarters no later than Aug. 15. Mail to Executive Director, P.O. Box 2042, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or e-mail administrativerequests@psba.org.

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