Reese Charter Education Reform Passes House
HARRISBURG – A bill authored by Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) aimed at improving charter and cyber charter education in Pennsylvania was passed by the House on Tuesday.

Reese said House Bill 97 meets two important objectives by strengthening school choice but also improving the formula used to fund charter and cyber charter education.

“It was groundbreaking when Pennsylvania established a charter education system 20 years ago, but the law has grown to be somewhat outdated,” Reese said. “This legislation strengthens the fiscal, transparency and academic aspects of charter school operations and will create more of a level playing field in comparison to traditional public schools.”

The bill proposes that charter schools use an academic performance matrix and that teacher evaluations be performed, which is similar to traditional public schools. It also aims to increase enforcement of current truancy laws. Charter schools meeting these objectives will be eligible for longer charter periods. Also included is language to improve public transparency and auditing requirements.

House Bill 97 also addresses a long-standing problem with the cyber charter funding formula by expanding the deductions that school districts use when calculating their per-pupil expenses paid to cyber charter schools. The deductions are estimated to save public school districts roughly $27 million annually.

The legislation calls for a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to be assembled and work toward identifying further corrections. The commission will include members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate and various education professionals with equal representation from both charter entities and school districts.

Reese explained that revising cyber education funding is imperative.

“There are several flaws in the way we fund cyber charter schools and every day these flaws go unaddressed an unnecessary burden is placed on traditional public schools and taxpayers in general,” Reese added.

The bill, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 108-84, will now be considered by the Senate. During the 2015-16 legislative session, a similar bill was approved by bipartisan votes in the House and Senate but a final version was not advanced before the session expired.

Representative Mike Reese
59th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Raymond Smith
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