Local

Proposals to cut funding, ban new cyber charter schools has local district support

PITTSBURGH — The amount of money flowing to charter and cyber schools from local school districts’ budgets is becoming a big issue across the state.

“One billion dollars in taxpayer money. That’s the slap in the face, let’s be honest. Taxpayers continue to pay higher and higher taxes they are yelling to their legislators enough is enough,” Megan Van Fossan, the Sto-Rox Superintendent, said.

Van Fossan said that number is over 22% of her budget and she doesn’t believe students are getting any better education.

“They won’t go to schools; they won’t do the work they are required to do. Those programs send them out and they come back with fewer skills,” Van Fossan said.

State Sen. Lindsey Williams agrees. That’s why she is proposing to ban the opening of any new cyber charter schools after the first new one in eight years was just approved.

“I think oftentimes people see the advertisements on TV and think cyber charter is free, but it’s not free that’s your tax dollars and this is a way to be smart with our tax dollars and our kids get the education they need,” Wiliams said.

Williams said there are already issues with funding current cyber charter schools. The governor is proposing to cut funds from local school districts per student in half. Something PA Cyber said will hurt its students.

“We are anticipating tens of millions of dollars in cuts each year to our school. Those kind of significant changes means the classroom experience will be less the extracurricular experience will be less,” said PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden.

PA Cyber does believe banning new cyber schools is a good idea to focus on those already in place, but these proposals are just that.

“There’s lots of ideas in Harrisburg but what actually comes to fruition is another thing,” Van Fossan said.

The governor’s proposed cuts will need to be approved by both the House and Senate as the budget is approved. Williams hopes to introduce her bill in the next few weeks.

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