Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

School board approves cyber school resolutions

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 by ERIN THOMAS Special to The Press in School

At the Whitehall-Coplay School Board meeting April 8, board members voted to approve a resolution supporting Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526.

“Since Whitehall-Coplay School District does provide our own cyber program, Whitehall-Coplay Virtual Learning Program, our district would save approximately $600,000 in the 2019-20 budget were these bills to pass,” WCSD Superintendent Dr. Lorie Hackett said.

Though WCSD has its own program, the district and local taxpayers are currently paying for WCSD students to attend other cyber schools.

The resolution emphasizes that most Pennsylvania cyber schools place in the bottom 5 percent for educational performance and have lower-than-average graduation rates, while district-run cyber programs offer high-quality curriculum, appropriately certified teachers, various support such as tutoring and career counseling, and extracurricular activities.

According to the resolution, “Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526 support school districts that provide their own cyber charter school, enabling them to retain critical funding in the district for the benefit of all students.”

A second resolution, Statewide Cyber Charter School Funding Reform, was also approved.

The resolution states, “The Whitehall-Coplay School District School Board urges its elected officials to support legislation that corrects tuition for regular and special education to cyber charter schools so that it is based on the actual costs of educating their students and relieves the financial burden on school districts and taxpayers.”

Hackett said, “If the legislature adopted a recommended proposal of a $5,000 statewide tuition rate for regular education students and an $8,865 tuition rate for special education students, our district would save an estimated $500,000 in the 2019-20 school year.”

The total tuition paid by the district to cyber schools for the 2017-18 fiscal year was $853,487.43. The estimate for the 2018-19 fiscal year is slightly higher.

Both resolutions will be submitted to Pennsylvania legislators, and districts across the state are encouraging others to follow suit.

The school board will hold committee meetings on education/student activities, operations/transportation and finance/personnel 4 p.m. April 23 and May 28. The next school board meeting will be 7 p.m. May 6.