Pa. cyber charter leader reacts to Wolf’s proposed tuition cuts

Written by on March 25, 2021

Pa. cyber charter leader reacts to Wolf’s proposed tuition cuts

By Chloe Nouvelle

March 25, 2021

Photo |Pat Wellenbach / AP Photo

When the pandemic forced traditional schools to go remote, interest in the Commonwealth’s cyber charter schools surged. Enrollments went way up, and costs followed.

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Now, Gov.Tom Wolf wants to cut how much money cyber schools get.

The Wolf Administration says public cyber school tuition can be as much as $22,000 per student, which is paid by school districts.

The administration wants to cut it by more than half to a flat rate of $9,500, saying it reflects the actual cost of online education by higher performing cyber schools.”

Jim Hanak is the chief executive officer of Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School which teaches Lehigh Valley students. A cyber’s finances shouldn’t be compared to brick-and-mortar schools, he says. Just because facility costs are lower, doesn’t mean all costs are lower.

“There’s a misperception that in a cyber charter school, you don’t have all these costs because you can have large class sizes. But that’s not true.”

To teach kids in the cyber environment, you need smaller class sizes, he says, and that means more staff. But that’s not the only place the money goes.

“A cyber charter school is required to provide a state-of-the-art laptop computer, high-speed internet line, and all the technology to support that which a regular public school does not have to provide.”

The governor’s change would cost his school 50% of its income at a time when enrollment grew by 60%. 

The Wolf Administration says the change would save taxpayers $130 million dollars a year.

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