Charter School Facts

Below you will find information that is often misunderstood as it relates to charter schools’ accountability and funding. While we cannot speak to the operations of all charter schools, we are able to speak about SCSC and believe our track record speaks volumes. Furthermore, we believe it is vital that accurate information is available. 

     FUNDING

  • Charter schools, by law, are paid the resident district’s average per pupil expenditure (or cost) for every student. Additionally, if the student has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), the charter school receives the resident district’s average per pupil expenditure for their special education students.  SCSC is not overpaid for special education. In fact, SCSC spends more on special education services than it receives from local districts. 

     BUILDINGS and CAPITAL PROJECTS

  • Charter schools receive approximately 80% of what districts spend on students enrolled in their traditional public schools. Nonetheless, families who have chosen to send their children to charter schools have the same tax burden as families who have chosen to send their children to district schools. Under Charter School law, charter schools do not receive numerous costs including the district’s financing of capital projects, which on average exceeds ten million dollars locally. SCSC achieves outstanding educational outcomes on less funding than local districts.

     BUILDINGS and CAPITAL PROJECTS

  • Charter schools fund their own capital projects without receiving any of the tax dollars paid by their families that are committed to district capital projects. This is an inherent problem in the funding formula. It is one of the reasons a commission is necessary to study charter school funding and make recommendations for fair funding practices. Districts do not hold a monopoly on public education and taxpayers deserve a choice in public education.
  • The charter school community supports having controls on unassigned general fund balances. However, just like district schools, charters have costs associated with the buildings necessary to conduct classes and educate children. When charter schools need to fund large projects such as building new facilities or improving existing ones, it requires saving funds over a period of time. These funds can be raised through donations, which is the case for SCSC. In order to save money for future projects, charter schools designate these monies to assigned or committed funds. Charter schools are being fiscally responsible by having money in savings.

     AUTHORIZATION

  • In Pennsylvania, charter schools are authorized (chartered) exclusively by school districts. Many states have moved to having multiple authorizers such as universities and business. 
  • Charter schools must have the authority to expand without getting permission from their authorizing district.  Across the state, the charter community has seen that districts will act to stop any expansion even when a school has a successful proven record and has many families waiting to enroll their children.

     ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

  • Charter schools are required to be transparent and accountable to the students, parents, community and the authorizing district. An independent financial audit is conducted each year. Special education and auditor general audits are conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Annual reports including budgets, teacher certification information, yearly spending and much more are provided to local districts and are published and available at the Department of Education.  Students take state tests and charter schools can be compared to other nearby schools.  Charter schools are just as accountable as traditional public schools.

Act 22, Pennsylvania's charter school law, was passed in 1997. Charter school law is 20 years old and needs adjustments for the reasons presented above.

Unfortunately, the issue of public school choice has been challenging and sometimes divisive in our community and it’s been difficult to find common ground.  We strongly believe there is room for all of us.  We hope for a day when all authorizing districts and their successful charter schools can thrive in a mutually supportive environment. The community, especially the children, need and deserve this.

 

Sincerely,

The Souderton Charter School Collaborative Board of Trustees

 

If you support SCSC and public school choice, please contact your local representative.

Representative Robert Godshall

rgodshal@pahousegop.com

Franconia Township & Borough of Souderton

Representative Marcy Toepel

mtoepel@pahousegop.com

Lower Salford Township

Senator Robert Mensch

bmensch@pasen.gov

Lower Salford Township
Salford Township
Upper Salford Township

Senator Stewart Greenleaf

sgreenleaf@pasen.gov

Franconia Township & Borough of Souderton