Background on the Underlining Charter School Issue
Charter schools are publicly funded, privately run educational organizations that exist with little to no oversight or accountability. Since 1997, when Pennsylvanian first authorized four charters in Philadelphia, the number of charters and cyber charters in the state has grown exponentially. The most recent PDE data shows Pennsylvania is home to 182 charter schools1 (155 brick and mortar, 16 cyber, and 11 regional), with a student enrollment of 138,400 (4% increase from 20162). Suburban schools districts in our area sent approximately $216 million to charter schools in 2016, up $73 million from the previous 5 years. Charters collected $46 million in special education fees, yet only spent $27 million on special education services according to PDE3. Recent PDE data shows charters spent 17% of their revenue on administrative costs4. Finally, the lack of accountability for teacher certification and administrative oversight has led to charter schools to consistency underperform academically. Consequently, we knew our district could provide a better educational experience for students, offer better flexibility for families, and do it with a better curriculum, better teachers, and at a substantially lower cost. Garnet Valley is now expanding its program to other school districts in the area that want to take advantage of this innovative programming.
Benefits to Cooperating School Districts
The cooperating school district maintains the student enrollment allowing the cooperating school district to receive Basic Education Funding and Special Education Funding appropriations through PDE.
The cooperating school district can offer online learning to any resident student currently enrolled in either their school district or a charter or cyber charter school.
The cooperating school district’s savings per student will be between $2,000 - $6,000 for a regular education student and between $8,000 - $20,000 for a student with special education needs.
The cooperating school district can choose to include Garnet Valley’s Professional Services Partnership that includes high-level, multi-year, staff development in the areas of Open Education Resources, Differentiated Professional Learning, and Online and Blended Teaching and Learning.