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Cyber Indictment Refuels Funding Debate

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The indictment of former PA Cyber CEO Nick Trombetta on charges of fraud and theft of more than $8 million dollars in tax money re-fuels an old debate.

Are cyber charter schools over-funded?

“They receive far too much funding,” state Sen. Jim Ferlo says.

Ferlo has long called for a reduction in the funding formula where school district pay an average of $10,000 per year for every student that opts out of their school for cyber schools.

The indictment says Trombetta used PA Cyber funding to create several for-profit and not-for-profit entities from which he skimmed money.

“We see the situation with Mr. Trombetta,” says Ferlo, “he’s really — symptom of a great problem that will continue unabated.”

And at City Charter High School in Pittsburgh, Superintendent Ron Sofo agrees.

“There is much more money involved in the education of cyber student that is over and above the actual cost,” Sofo said.

In addition to stealing $1 million in cash, the indictment charges Trombetta with diverting funds to purchase an airplane, a luxury condominium in Florida and to acquire a vast real estate holding.

“This is an indictment of an individual, not of the school,” Bob Fayfich, the head of the PA Coalition of Charter Schools, said.

But Fayfich says the funding formulas for cyber charter schools should be re-evaluated.

“If this can generate an honest discussion of the what the real funding for cyber charter should be, that’s a great outcome of this,” he said.

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