Education leaders remain divided over the value of cyber charter schools, but one thing is for certain: The Philadelphia School District will feel the charter school impact on its troubled budget, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Newsworks reported.
In a story about eight cyber charter proposals being considered by the state, reporter Benjamin Herold wrote about how the cyber charters could affect Philly in the coming years:
From his story:
In addition, [city Chief Education Officer Lori] Shorr and other city education leaders are worried that the continued expansion of cybers will blow a hole in the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District’s already unbalanced budget.
Before the hearings on the new proposals began, Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite submitted written testimony on behalf of the District.
Last year, wrote Hite, almost 5,000 Philadelphia students were enrolled in state cyber charters, resulting in almost $50 million in per-pupil payments from the District.
“Cyber charter school enrollment has an enormous impact on the School District’s budget and Five Year Financial Plan,” wrote Hite. “We expect that by 2017, cyber charter seats will cost the School District more than $75 million per year” â€“ even if no new cyber schools are approved.
Last week, Shorr said that she expected cyber charter enrollment in Philly to more than double in the next five years.
Herold reports that public education advocates are concerned about the academic performance of students in cyber charters. This past summer, one cyber charter surrendered its charter after a series of articles in the Philadelphia Daily News revealed that many students were “habitually truant or failing their classes — or both.”