Home > Uncategorized > Gridlock in PA Leads to Gaming $$$ Going to Keep Charters Afloat

Gridlock in PA Leads to Gaming $$$ Going to Keep Charters Afloat

Those who want to know what a bad State government looks like need look no further that PA where the gridlock in legislature is bringing attention to the bad laws that body wrote to favor charter schools and hamstring public schools. As Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Mary Niederberger reports, because the legislature has not approved its budget for the current fiscal year, most districts are functioning only if they have large reserves or if they can and are willing to take out tax anticipation notes. Several of the districts were counting on the use of gaming funds that are directed to public school by law. But many districts are now finding that they have very little of that money to spend because they must first pay the charter school bills in full. Why?

…Nicole Reigelman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said the use of the funds is required by state law.

“This is mandated by the Pennsylvania School Code. Pennsylvania’s charter school law, passed in the 1990s, says that if a school district doesn’t make its charter school payments, the secretary of the Department of Education shall deduct the estimated amount, as documented by the charter school, from any and all state payments made to the district after receipt of documentation from the charter school.

“While Governor (Tom) Wolf and Secretary (Pedro) Rivera recognize the unfairness of this provision and believe it should be changed, PDE must follow the law,” Ms. Reigelman said in a prepared statement.

Given the notorious corruption in many of PA’s charter schools and the huge profits many on-line schools rake in, it is not surprising that school boards are up in arms…. especially in a community like McKeesport which was the exemplar in Niederberger’s article:

 McKeesport, which has taken out a $5 million line of credit and expected $1.2 million in gambling funds, but instead will get $41,000 after charter school tuition is paid. That means the district will have to dip into the line of credit to make next week’s payroll.

PA went all in on privatization and charters in the mid-1990s and to date the only people who benefitted from the decision are the shareholders of the for-profit schools. The districts taken over by the state, Philadelphia and Chester, remain at the back of the pack on the standardized test metrics used to define “success” by the pro-market-driven “reform” crowd and the management groups brought in to oversee the districts have come and gone as have many of the for-profit enterprises that were going to save the day. Now we have school districts struggling to make ends meet due to the intransigence of the same legislature that created the privatization mania watching while the privately run charter schools pocket gaming funds earmarked to keep public schools from needing to raise property taxes. Here’s hoping the public sees what’s happening to them and takes steps to restore some semblance of democratic order to Pennsylvania.


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