PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An audit by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found school districts are hurting financially because Gov. Tom Corbett and the legislature no longer reimburse school districts when their students attend charter schools.
“The state, when the charter law passed, had made a commitment that they were going to reimburse the school district for that,” DePasquale told KDKA political editor Jon Delano, “but that has been eliminated, which has been a big financial hit for a lot of school districts.”
Every time a student opts to go to a charter school instead of their local public school, the school district must transfer money from their budget to that charter school.
In Allegheny County alone, that amounted to over $59.5 million last year to cover approximately 5,500 students.
Along with the Duquesne School District, Sto-Rox is one of the harder hit school districts.
In 2010-11, they paid out $2.5 million for their students who attended charter schools. They got back $400,000 from the state. Now they get zero.
Frank Dalmas is the acting superintendent of the Sto-Rox School District.
“The more money that we have to pay out for charter school expenses and cyber school expenses, we’re experiencing increased class sizes, less money to pay for textbooks and programs, less money to pay for staff,” says Dalmas.
DePasquale says it’s up to Harrisburg to correct this problem.
“Pennsylvania funds our public schools at one of the lowest rates in the entire country. We are in the low 30s right now. Most states from the state government fund their public schools at a 50 percent clip,” he said.
“This would help a lot of property tax issues if the state did its job and properly funded public education,” says DePasquale.