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Quaker Valley board asks for cap on charter school costs

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In the resolution, Quaker Valley School Board members recommend:

• Adopting a funding formula for charter and cyber charter schools that compensates school districts for costs related to maintaining capacity that cannot be reduced or transferred to charter schools.

• Funding for charter schools not exceed actual expenses needed to educate students attending those schools.

• Passing legislation that caps charter schools' unreserved, undesignated fund balances in the same way school districts' balances are capped.

• Modifying the current charter school funding formula, so employer pension contributions are reimbursed once.

• Creating an independent entity to determine actual costs of educating.

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Quaker Valley leaders say the growing cost of cyber and other charter school tuitions from local school district funds needs to be capped.

Under a resolution adopted last week, board members and administrators are seeking changes to the state's school code that would alter how cyber and charter school tuition is calculated.

“There is significant unfairness in the way that tuition is calculated in the charter and cyber charter school funding formula,” Superintendent Joseph Clapper said. “Lawmakers need to fully address this inequity.”

Two bills that could be considered by the state House of Representatives in June would reduce funding from local school districts.

About $500,000 of Quaker Valley's $42 million budget goes toward charter and cyber-charter school tuition.

“The burden of funding charter and cyber charter schools has shifted to the local taxpayers,” Clapper said. “Meanwhile, unlike local school districts, there is lack of accountability, transparency and local control.”

Charter schools are privately operated but funded by tuition payments from districts.

In the 2008-09 school year, 13 students in the Quaker Valley district attended charter schools, according to district data. That number rose to 29 students for the current school year.

Quaker Valley's overall enrollment is about 1,940.

About 105,056 students across the state attend charter schools, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.

Since the state Legislature approved charter schools in 1997, 175 have opened. Of those, 16 charter schools are online-based.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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