Gergely, Kortz applaud court ruling on charter school funds

HARRISBURG, Dec. 11 – State Reps. Bill Kortz and Marc Gergely, both D-Allegheny, applauded this week’s Commonwealth Court ruling that the state Department of Education cannot redistribute gaming funds to charter schools during the current budget impasse.

“This was an issue brought to our attention because of the financial stress schools in our districts were under, thanks in part to the lack of a state budget and required payments the districts had to make to charter schools,” Gergely said. “It’s a simple matter of fairness, and the court system made the right ruling. I’m proud that Representative Kortz and I were among the first to bring this issue of fairness up with the state.”

In October, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association filed suit against the Department of Education after the department decided it was obligated to pay charter school tuition bills with gaming revenue meant for property tax reductions.

Separately compelled to look into the issue by Gergely, Kortz and Democratic House leadership, the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office will begin auditing the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s handling of charter school tuition disbursement appeals.

“The money from the gaming revenue is specifically set aside for property tax relief and nothing else,” Kortz said. “It is unfair that a revenue source created for the good of all taxpayers would be used to make payments to charter schools. I understand their predicament; however, every school in Pennsylvania is struggling as we work toward the completion of a budget. We can’t carve out special exemptions at a time like this.”