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Top of the list of Chester schools where Coatesville lost students, tuition to the cyber charter during a pandemic

The Coatesville School District saw the most explosive one-year student outflow in Chester County during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the spill added more than $ 2 million to district costs between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. This is an increase of 54% over the year. Research organized by Research for Action..

This trend is not unique to Coatesville.

Graphics by Evan Brandt / MediaNews Group)

During the pandemic, cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania saw double-digit increases in tuition fees, and correspondingly higher costs paid by federal school districts.

“Pennsylvania boasts the highest number of cyber charter school enrollments in the country, with student enrollment surged in 2020-21 due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Research for Action report. The school district paid more than $ 1 billion in tuition to students enrolled in 14 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania in 2020-21, an increase of $ 335 million from the previous year.

In Chester County, nine of the 13 school districts saw a double-digit increase in cyber charter tuition, and seven saw an increase of more than 40%.

Subsequent Coatesville is Owen J. Roberts, with a one-year tuition increase of $ 1,049,945, an increase of 76%. Then followed by Downingtown, cyber charter tuition increased by $ 1,026,752 over the year, up 60%.

Unusually, the two districts of Burks, Chester, or Montgomery County, Avon Grove and Union Building-Chasford, reduced tuition fees slightly to actually get students back from cyber charter schools that year.

It is unclear what was the cost increase for the Phoenix Building School District. This is because Research for Action found that the school district included only the number of lost students in six states that did not report the impact on cyber charter tuition budgets.

In addition to the steady buildup of surpluses enjoyed by 14 cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, the tuition plunge has surged over the past two years. Survey by the Pennsylvania Charter Performance Center, a division of the Advocacy Group Children First..

While certainly helped by the surge in enrollment over the year, Children First reports that school treasurers have been accumulating surpluses called “unallocated funds” for years.

Graphics from the Pennsylvania Charter School Performance Center Report.
Graphics from the Pennsylvania Charter School Performance Center Report.

“In 2019-20, cyber registrations increased slightly (2.4%), but surpluses increased significantly (241%). In the first year of the pandemic, 2020-21, registrants The numbers surged 59% and the surplus doubled (119%), “said ML Wernecke, director of the Pennsylvania Charter School Performance Center.

“Looking at the two years between the school year that began in 2019 and the school year that began in 2021, cyber enrollment increased by 63% and cyber surplus increased by 647%, which is more than 10 times the enrollment rate. That’s what Wernecke said. ..

ML Wernecke is the Director of the Pennsylvania Charter School Performance Center.
ML Wernecke is the Director of the Pennsylvania Charter School Performance Center.

Pennsylvania law limits the school district’s surplus to 8 percent before the school district can raise taxes, Wenecke said. “Last year, 11 of 14 cyber charters reported unallocated funding balances of over 8% of total spending, with some schools reaching 56.4%,” Werencek wrote.

Of course, there are exceptions, such as the Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County. This month, it agreed to return $ 27 million to taxpayers and settle a long-term proceeding accusing the district of hiding surplus during the tax increase...

Graphics by Pennsylvania Charter Performance Center
Graphics by Pennsylvania Charter Performance Center

James Hanak is the Chairman of the Public Cyber ​​Charter School Association and CEO of the PA Leadership Charter School. He defended a cyber charter school with a higher surplus because their finances run differently from traditional school districts.

“We have our own needs,” Hanak said in an interview. “When the school district begins the school year, it has already sent tax invoices to the residents and they have 90 percent of the budget in the bank. If you enroll a student in September, it is usually two months. I have no payment until later. “

Due to a shortage of teachers throughout the state Deteriorated by mass retirement during a pandemic, Cyber ​​Charter School cannot wait to confirm the number of students enrolled and the number of teachers required by September. By then, most of the available teachers will be hired. Therefore, cyber charters will need more surplus to cover the prepaid expenses until the school district pays the tuition fees, he said.

James Hanak
James Hanak

In addition, according to Hanak, enrollment in cyber charter schools fluctuates much more than traditional schools and even more than “real-store” charter schools. If the number of student enrollments suddenly declines or increases, such as when the COVID-19 pandemic flocked families to a cyber charter school, more financial cushioning is needed to accommodate flexibility.

And banks are not always an option.

“We have been waiting for a five-year charter update for ten years,” Hanak said. The cyber charter school charter renewal is being processed by the state and is significantly behind schedule. “Banks don’t want to lend money to charter schools that haven’t renewed their charters,” he said.

However, according to Wenecke, the amount of money that cyber charter schools have in their budgets exceeds all of these needs. The numbers are “more evidence that the cyber charter sector is depositing money in banks rather than spending more to improve student performance. In short, cyber will use its surplus balances to improve students, or We need to give the money back to the school district we donate to, “Wrnecke wrote.

Hanak argued that cyber charter schools are not the only educational institutions with large surpluses. “The state-wide school district has nearly $ 5 billion in funding. If you want to give it back to taxpayers, you might consider the same thing.”

Top of the list of Chester schools where Coatesville lost students, tuition to the cyber charter during a pandemic

Source link Top of the list of Chester schools where Coatesville lost students, tuition to the cyber charter during a pandemic

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