We are hearing that some of the provisions in a House school code bill, HB530, are being included in a Senate-supported school code bill, HB1606. It is unclear which parts of HB530 will be included in HB1606, but we will be monitoring to determine if any of the very problematic provisions of the former bill wind up in the latter.
School districts in Pennsylvania contain a mix of traditional public schools and charter schools. Some local school districts want to add charters schools. Many do not. All of them should be empowered to evaluate the best way to educate students in their respective districts.
Unfortunately, provisions included in HB530 which might be amended into HB1606 will remove much of the supervisory and decision-making authority from local school districts in every corner of the state. Since charter schools receive funding from local school districts, the creation of new seats in charter schools without school board supervision and control diminishes the ability of school districts to establish and manage their budgets. That could result in the underfunding of traditional schools or significant local tax increases all over the state.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center opposes any school code that permits charter schools to enroll new students, add grade levels, or recruit students from outside the school district without the approval of the local school board.
We oppose any school code that creates an evaluation system for charter schools that makes it more difficult to compare charter school success with that of traditional schools or that undermines the ability of local school boards to hold charters schools accountable for financial management and educational success.
And we oppose the creation of a charter school advisory commission that does not represent all the stakeholders in the education of our children.
What we do welcome are provisions in the school code that finally create fair rules for reimbursing cyber charters and holding them accountable for what they do with public funds.