Sayre School Board formalizes support for cyber charter tuition reform

Sayre School Board Vice President Ron Cole talks about the costs of cyber charter schools on the school district before reading a resolution that called on lawmakers to support reform to these tuition costs.

The Sayre School Board approved a resolution Monday, formalizing its support for reform to the cyber charter school tuition costs currently shouldered by school districts.

“This could be quite a relief for us,” said school board Vice President Ron Cole before reading the resolution aloud Monday.

In the resolution, the school board “urges its elected officials to support legislation that corrects the tuition for regular and special education to cyber charter schools so that it is based on the actual costs of educating their students and relieves the financial burden on school districts and taxpayers.”

Officials noted in the resolution that cyber school tuition costs, which are paid by school districts for students attending cyber charter schools based in different parts of the state, are not based on the costs for the home school district to actually educate the child, especially in the area of special education, resulting in over payments. In the case of the Sayre Area School District, these costs were $386,115.99 for the 2014-2015 school year and had increased to $479,124.89 for the 2017-2018 school year, although they are currently on track for a little more than $380,000 for the current school year.

“The commonwealth is the sole authorizer of cyber charter schools, yet almost all of the costs for cyber charter schools are borne by school districts and local taxpayers,” the resolution stated.

As part of her Online Learning Committee update, school board member Margaret Barry urged people to educate themselves about the current tuition reform proposals, such as Senate Bill 34, and “please, please, please for the sake of all public schools in Pennsylvania encourage your legislators to support reform. We do have a good online program here and our neighboring districts do as well, and if that reform could occur, I think it would make our program stronger and it would just help our school systems in general.”

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