More and more students are leaving public school districts for the cyber option of their home district or for private cyber charter academies. The change takes millions of dollars out of public schools, forcing public school leaders to wring their hands, cut budgets and complain about fair funding formulas.
It is easy to understand the concerns of the local superintendents. The loss of students and the funding that follows them can be doubly disappointing. With millions of dollars going to schools like the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and the Commonwealth Charter Academy, it can be difficult to focus on anything else.
But perhaps it is worth asking why. Why do families make these decisions? Why do families choose private entities over those managed by the public school district?
“If a student chooses to leave a brick and mortar school, then there is a reason,” said Pennsylvania Leadership Cyber School Founder and CEO Dr. James Hanak. “Something that went wrong caused this student to leave this district. “
In today’s climate, there could be a multitude of reasons, ranging from personal preference to bullying to the fact that the pandemic has changed e-learning a lot and that many cyber schools were ahead of the curve in terms of program and technology.
Have Public School Districts Catching Up? Maybe, but for many parents, schools need to prove themselves after being quickly forced into the cyber world in March 2020.
There is probably a better formula for funding these cyber schools, and lawmakers in Harrisburg have looked at it in spurts. This is what the superintendents are asking for: government officials to reform the financing of cyber schools. Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a reform plan he said could save public school districts $ 229 million, in part by creating a statewide per-student tuition rate for cyber students.
“We are being overlooked on this issue,” said Line Mountain Superintendent Dave Campbell. “It has to stop. We have to get some kind of reform here.
These Valley principals in this regard are not wrong, but as Hanak says, the money follows the student, as it should.
We believe school leaders focus so much energy on students and families, finding the perfect mix of education in their home neighborhoods so that they even consider looking elsewhere in the first place. The valley has great school districts, great teachers, and great administrators. Cumulatively, they are wise enough to learn why students leave and continue to build better public education.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in editorials of The Daily Item are the consensus of the publisher, senior newsroom executives, and members of the Editorial Board community. Today’s one was written by editor Bill Bowman.