AGORA OPPOSING FUNDING CUTS TO PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS
A RESOLUTION OF AGORA CYBER CHARTER SCHOOL OPPOSING FUNDING CUTS TO PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS.
WHEREAS the right of parents to choose the best school for their children is an urgent civil right;
WHEREAS, public charter schools were created to promote innovative educational opportunities and increased options for high quality educational environments for students;
WHEREAS, the educational challenges created by COVID-19 continue to underscore the important differences between the well planned virtual learning provided by public cyber charter schools and the emergency online instruction forced upon traditional schools by the raging pandemic, especially the key benefits to students who have been engaged in a long-term virtual educational environment;
WHEREAS, more than 143,000 students are enrolled in public charter schools because families have identified these schools as the best educational fit for their children; with thousands more on waiting lists;
WHEREAS, more specifically, cyber charter schools serve a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, typically almost 50 percent of their total student enrollment;
WHEREAS, parents often select public charter schools because their students have special education needs that are not being met within the traditional public school setting;
WHEREAS, public charter schools are required by law to operate as public non-profit corporations and are directly accountable to the Pennsylvania Department of Education or to their local authorizing school board;
WHEREAS, the boards of trustees of public charter schools are public officials who operate their meetings in public and are required, like all school district board members, to file annual ethics statements of financial interest and comply with The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, 65 Pa. C.S. §§ 701-716;
WHEREAS, there is an extreme and unfair bias against public charter schools and their families which has resulted in fees, and other procedural obstacles not imposed on traditional schools;
WHEREAS, even though public charter schools offer outstanding educational opportunities for public school students, they receive 25% less funding per student than traditional public schools;
WHEREAS, public charter schools do not “take” money from school districts, rather a portion of school funding follows the student in accordance with the family’s conscious choice to enroll in a public charter school;
WHEREAS, almost a third of all school districts in the Commonwealth fail to make legally required monthly payments to public charter schools, thus creating cash flow problems and requiring public charter schools to expend time and effort seeking redirection from the Department of Education;
WHEREAS, cyber charter schools specifically have significant financial considerations often overlooked by traditional school districts and some policymakers, including tremendous costs related to 1:1 student to technology ratio, special education related service provider partnerships throughout the commonwealth, mandatory state testing facilities throughout the commonwealth, and pupil health screening throughout the commonwealth;
WHEREAS, public charter school families pay the same local tax dollars as families whose children attend traditional schools;
WHEREAS, both cyber charter and brick & mortar charter schools are public schools making the students who attend these schools deserving of the same public funding support provided to students in traditional schools;
WHEREAS, some policymakers believe that a cut to charter school funding is required to level the playing field between public charter schools and traditional public schools, any funding cuts, especially those leveled at special education students would jeopardize the existence of public charter schools and therefore eliminate choices for families, especially racial minorities and impoverished students;
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Department of Education already authorizes deductions to charter school funding in excess of what is legally provided for in the Charter School Law;
WHEREAS, the General Assembly and the Governor may consider legislation that will greatly cut funding for public charter schools;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Agora Cyber Charter School, along with the Public Cyber Charter School Association and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, hereby strongly opposes any effort to cut public school funding for any charter school. A copy of this Resolution shall be publicized to the Governor, Pennsylvania General Assembly, media outlets and social media as well as other relevant sources.
Adopted this first day of March 2021.
School Board President Chief Executive Officer