Reforms needed to address Charter Crisis
HARRISBURG, March 2 – The charter school crisis has only worsened through the COVID-19 pandemic and a public hearing hosted by state Rep. Mary Isaacson examined the statewide impact on public schools.
"Our Pennsylvania Constitution requires that we provide for and maintain a thorough and efficient public education system," said Isaacson, D-Phila. "That constitutional mandate doesn't disappear when there's a global pandemic. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on school districts' budgets throughout our commonwealth, presenting new challenges to meet the constitutional mandate. Being able to have a discussion now with administrators on the front lines of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and the charter school funding crisis was an important step in working toward solutions."
The committee heard testimony from Uri Monson, CFO for the Philadelphia School District, and superintendents statewide including Dr. Shane Hotchkiss, Bermudian Springs School District and chair, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Legislative Committee; Ken Berlin, Wattsburg School District, Erie County; Richard Scaletta, General Mclane School District, Erie County; Dr. Brian Bliss, Solanco School District, Lancaster County; David Burkett, Fannett Metal School District, Franklin County; and Jim Estep, Mifflin County School District.
“Testifiers were economically and geographically diverse, yet they could agree that the current approach to how we fund our charter schools is inadequate at best. They are spending state dollars on advertising and promotions for their offerings while public schools are struggling to provide basic needs for students,” said state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. “Our taxpayers deserve meaningful reforms that will better educate our students, and support our teachers, administrators and support staff.”
Testifiers highlighted the need for policies that engage students, revise the funding mechanisms for cyber charters and additional needs for infrastructure investments to improve internet service access statewide.
Video, the agenda and hearing testimony is available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee.