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Auditor General: Pennsylvania Overpays Charter and Cyber Schools

While the state House considers legislation to change the way cyber schools and independent charter schools in the commonwealth get their money, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner said taxpayers are overpaying for the alternative education style, big time.

"Pennsylvania presently spends at least $360 million annually more than it should on charter and cyber charter school funding," Wagner said.

He based his claim on the current funding formula that allows the cyber or charter school to get their money from the child's school district based on the average amount it costs to educate a child from school district the child comes from.

"Generally speaking, that's too much money," Wagner said. "There's no correlation with the true cost of educating the child at the cyber charter school. That funding formula is related to another school district."

Wagner added that Pennsylvania has one of the highest funding rates in the country for cyber and charter schools.

Additionally, cyber and charter schools are also receiving money from more than one school district because their students come from different school districts. Wagner proposes that the cost the school district pays to the cyber or charter school should be based on the average amount of money it takes to educate a child in a charter or cyber school from a national standpoint, not the average amount it costs in the school district.

"I fully support alternatives in education," Wagner said. "I voted for it as a State Senator, but this legislation is now 15 years old, passed in 1997, and it needs to be updated."