Probst says it’s time for an early spring for taxpayers and students by bringing back fairness to funding education

HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – After Punxsutawney Phil made his prognostication about the weather today, state Rep. Tarah Probst took the time to call attention to the state’s ‘other’ Groundhog Day -- how the state funds cyber charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools.

“Now that the state’s most famous groundhog predicted an early end to winter, I’m calling on the state Senate to bring an early end to the unfair way cyber charter schools operate by acting on H.B. 1422 and stop the never-ending loop of funding them that keeps failing our students, taxpayers and communities.”

House Bill 1422 would end $456 million in annual overpayments to cyber charter schools, returning that money to taxpayers and traditional public schools by aligning special education funding to student needs and setting a standardized statewide tuition rate. The legislation would also require cyber charters to adhere to the same standards as other public schools, including transparency in spending, ethics and conflicts of interest requirements, and safeguards to ensure proper use of public funds.

Probst said she voted for the bill last year to modernize cyber charter school funding and prevent tax dollars from being spent on non-educational items, but it has not yet been considered by the state Senate. Since then, more school districts across the state have passed resolutions urging the General Assembly to act on charter  reform, bringing the total to 468 out of 500 school districts statewide.

“Millions of taxpayer dollars that are meant for brick-and-mortar public schools are being siphoned away to these cyber programs for reimbursement. The funding is not tied to actual costs and there is little oversight. Families and seniors are losing their homes from local school taxes in Monroe County,” she said, noting that cyber charter schools take $40 million out of Monroe County school districts.

Both Stroudsburg Area and East Stroudsburg area school districts will pay out nearly $9 million each to cyber charter schools this year, while Delaware Valley will pay $1.89 million.

“When we underfund and divert dollars away from our public school districts, it falls on local property taxpayers to make up the difference. This system is not making things better for our public schools or taxpayers, and the reforms in H.B. 1422 can actually help reduce property taxes in the future.”