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  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

The Truth About Charter School Spending

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

Today we will dip our toes into how education is funded in our Commonwealth.

The state of Pennsylvania allocates $19,900 per pupil, per year to educate students. (Special education students are allocated more money, but for today’s discussion we will use $19,900 as the average per pupil dollar amount.)

We previously stated that the WCASD has 12,160 students enrolled.

  • 12,160 students x $19,900 per student = $241,984,000 total allocation from Harrisburg to WCASD for the 2022-23 school year.

There are 249 home schoolers enrolled in our district.

  • 249 homeschoolers x $19,900 per student = $4,955,100 the district gets from Harrisburg for homeschool students who do not attend our schools.

There are 577 charter school students enrolled in our district.

  • 577 x $19,900 per student = $11,482,300 that the district gets from Harrisburg for charter school students who do not attend our schools. The district keeps a portion of this money received from Harrisburg, and transfers the remainder to charter schools.

Let’s take a look at how much money is changing hands.

This spreadsheet ( 2022-23 rates based on PDE-363s received by PDE ) from the PA Department of Ed shows that the district pays (transfers) roughly $14,000 per student for charter school attendance. (The actual cost is $14,029 but we will use $14,000 for the average.) This means that the district keeps $5900 per student (of the $19,900 allocated by Harrisburg.)

  • 577 charter school students x $5900 per student = $3,494,300 that the district keeps for charter school students who do not attend our schools.

Hold on, we are almost finished with the word problems!

  • $4,955,100 for homeschoolers + $3,494,300 $for charter school students = $8,449,400 total dollars that the district gets from Harrisburg for both charter school and homeschool students who do not attend our schools!

Strategic Ed Tech notes that, “Businesses operate by providing a product or service to their customers. Schools operate to provide education (a service) to students (customers). However, the customers are not actually students but rather parents, guardians, and families. Less evidently, taxpayers are the most important, yet often forgotten, customers of education as we all know that an educated public is a safer, more affluent, and happier one.”

Presumably, the students who attend homeschools and charter schools do so because the district is not meeting their educational needs. Do you know of any other industry where a business does not meet the customer’s needs, yet the business continues to make over $8 million dollars, while the customer has to go elsewhere to get their needs met?

Do these numbers surprise you? Which surprises you more, the number of students attending home schools and charter schools (the equivalent to the number of students at Stetson Middle School) or the amount of money the district receives for students who do not attend our schools?

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1 Comment

Nov 11, 2022

Wow! I didn’t realize it was that much. Thanks for breaking it down. I wonder where all the extra money goes… unless the actual cost for the students in the schools is much higher than $19,900.

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