Share This Page

Apollo-Ridge school board approves resolution calling on lawmakers to reform state's cyber charter school funding

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:06 a.m.

Payments to cyber charter schools are making a “big hit” on the Apollo-Ridge School District's budget, Superintendent Matt Curci says.

To address that, the school board Monday approved a resolution calling on lawmakers to reform the state's cyber charter school funding formula.

The resolution, put forth by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, notes that districts are required to pay cyber charter schools based on the district's cost to educate the student and not on cyber charters' actual costs.

Districts also are required to pay cyber charters for pension costs. The state reimburses charter schools for half of their pension costs, allowing cyber charters to get payment for the same costs twice, the resolution states. The pension “double dip” is costing taxpayers an additional $50 million each year.

The resolution states that the state Auditor General, in 2010 and in 2012, recommended amending charter school law so that payments are “based on the actual cost of educating students, including special education students, at the charter school.”

For the 2012-13 school year, Apollo-Ridge is expecting to spend about $432,000 on cyber charter schools for 39 students. Curci called that a “tremendous” cost for a district with a budget of about $20 million.

While down slightly from the roughly $450,000 spent in 2008-09, the district's share then was only about $276,000 after state reimbursement. The state has not reimbursed Apollo-Ridge since the 2010-11 school year, according to the resolution.

In the past five years, the number of Apollo-Ridge students attending cyber charters dropped from 59 in 2008-09 to a low of 36 in 2011-12, rising slightly to 39 in 2012-13.

Curci attributed the decline in part to the district opening its own cyber school, the Apollo-Ridge Virtual Learning Academy.

In other business

• Access to the district's community fitness trail and track will be restricted when school resumes after the Easter break.

For security reasons, the district will not allow public use of the trail and track while school is in session, Curci said.

• The district has set graduation for June 7, which will also be the last day of school for students.

• The district has two extra weeks to notify employees of furloughs under an agreement the school board approved with the Apollo-Ridge Education Association.

The deadline for such notifications had been April 1, the same date employees are required to notify the district of their intent to retire. The district asked for the extension to April 15 because those retirements could affect the need to furlough, district Solicitor Matt Hoffman said.

The board approved the retirement resignations of four employees — Jan French, first grade; Gloria Notte, second grade; Sandy Curci, literacy specialist; and Carol Leonard, speech and language therapist. They all are effective June 11.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.