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Shamelss Lobbying by Charter Schools Jeopardizes Solid Special Education Reform

Pennsylvania charter schools collected $350,562,878 last year for special education funding and spent $156,003,034 for special education!  Where did the other $200 million go?  The fact of the matter is that charter schools are not obligated to spend special education funding for special education purposes.  That money can be spent for numerous miscellaneous reasons including billboards and mailer advertisements. 

Act 3 of 2013 created a Special Education Funding Commission given the task of examining special education funding and recommending a new formula for distributing funding to PA schools.  The old formula was not based on actual special education costs.  The commission, which included local Senator Patrick Browne, held 7 hearings, including 2 that focused totally on charter school funding of special education.  The commission's efforts resulted in House bill 2138 and Senate Bill 1316 which base special education funding on costs.

Unfortunately the well funded charter lobby has fully mobilized to kill these bills.  Charter school parents are being led to believe that spending special education funds on special education costs is somehow going to destroy their schools.   

Two of the major cost drivers for local school districts are special education and charter school funding.  At a recent East Penn School District School Board meeting it was reported that the combination of cyber school overpayments, the charter school pension double dip and overpaying of special education funding was worth $1,116,216 (all paid for by local tax dollars).  The Allentown School District charter school costs have gone from $3 million to $19 million in 5 years (a 600% increase).

Special education funding in PA is not cheap and local school districts have now gone 6 budget cycles without a state funding increase.  Please encourage your local state representatives to ignore the charter school lobby and pass special education reform based on costs not politics. 

Senator Browne contact info. http://www.senatorbrowne.com/contact-me/

Rep. Mackenzie contact info. http://www.repmackenzie.com/Contact.aspx

Find your state Reps. http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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