Harrisburg, PA - State Education Secretary Pedro Rivera today visited the Pottstown School District in Montgomery County as part of the Wolf Administration’s Schools That Teach tour, joining school and local officials for a roundtable discussion of education policy issues before touring the district to meet teachers and students.
“The Schools That Teach tour enables me to hear directly from educators and students to better understand their needs and to see first-hand how schools like Pottstown are implementing new and innovative programs to prepare students to be successful after they graduate,” said Secretary Rivera. “Since taking office, Gov. Wolf has made education his top priority, and these visits give me an opportunity to inform policy and share how his initiatives are impacting the preparation of students to be college, career and community ready.”
During the visit, Rivera highlighted the Wolf Administration’s investments in public education and discussed new initiatives, including the governor’s comprehensive plan to reform the state’s charter school law.
The proposal will save school districts across the commonwealth an estimated $280 million per year by creating a statewide cyber charter tuition rate and by applying to all charter schools the special education funding formula currently used by traditional public schools.
Pottstown is one of 21 school districts in Montgomery County that would benefit from the proposal to create fair, predictable, and equitable funding for school districts – saving a total of $9.6 million between them.
Pottstown Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said his district would save more than $1 million per year if the changes are enacted.
“Taxpayers understand that serving the 1.5 million students in local public schools is critical to our future, but they don’t understand how charter schools are allowed to use local district tax dollars with very little oversight on how that money is spent,” he said. “We can fix this problem with common-sense legislation without hurting school choice or any of the families currently in a cyber or charter school.”
Legislation to implement the governor’s proposed changes has been introduced by state Representative Joe Ciresi, who said a new law would allow all schools to be treated fairly.
“Charter school costs have been growing at an unsustainable rate at the expense of taxpayers, and it’s time we got better results,” he said. “The outdated charter school law written in 1997 doesn’t fit the new reality of cyber charter education, and too many charter schools statewide underperform without any accountability to their students and our taxpayers. We need charters to be partners with our public schools, not competitors for dollars taken from long-suffering homeowners.”
“In my district, the reforms proposed in Governor Wolf’s budget would result in over $2.6 million in charter school cost savings,” Ciresi added.
Through the Schools That Teach Initiative Rivera and other Wolf Administration leaders have visited hundreds of schools and engaged with thousands of educators and students since 2015.
View a Google map of all tour stops.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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