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Lower Merion School Board Opposes Senate Bill 1085

The board said the charter school reform bill would create new and substantial costs for taxpayers and take control of public schools away from local communities, among other concerns.

(Patch file photo)
(Patch file photo)
The following is a statement from Lower Merion School District Board of School Directors:

The Lower Merion School District Board of School Directors unanimously approved a resolution to oppose Senate Bill 1085, a charter school reform bill that will create new and substantial costs for taxpayers, take control of public schools away from local communities, and limit the ability of school districts to effectively plan for student enrollment changes and staffing needs. The resolution, initially discussed in the Board’s legislative committee, was presented and approved at the start of the Board’s education meeting on Monday, January 13.

At the heart of Senate Bill 1085 is a provision that enables colleges and universities to siphon local tax dollars to create under-regulated charter schools. The schools would not be subject to the accountability standards of locally-elected school boards. A college/university could open and fund a new school entirely through dollars previously allocated for existing public schools, without any evidence to support that the school would be more effective than existing schools.

Additionally, Senate Bill 1085 fails to address the immediate need to reform funding formulas and establish a system of accountability for cyber charter schools. The evidence is clear that the cost of operating cyber charter schools is considerably less than the cost of operating “brick and mortar” charter schools. As such, there should be a means to reduce tuition for cyber charter schools and limit fund balances to ensure that excess funds -- taxpayer dollars -- are returned to school districts.

“We are very concerned about the potential negative impacts of this bill.” said LMSD Board President Melissa Gilbert. “While it is unusual for our Board to approve a resolution in opposition to a specific piece of legislation, we felt it was important to make our position known. We hope that school boards across the state will take similar action.”

Click here to read the resolution in full.
Regina Manginelli January 16, 2014 at 12:16 AM
Why does the LMSD Board of Directors ignore the fact that charter school students pay taxes too? However, this should be no surprise considering their total disregard for all non-public school attending taxpayers in the township. Perhaps it's time that the teachers' unions and public school boards realize that the public schools aren't working for many taxpayers. Does choice threaten them?

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