PA cyber academy enrollments surge with cash-strapped districts left to foot the bill

Written by on August 18, 2020

 PA cyber academy enrollments surge with cash-strapped districts left to foot the bill

By Chloe Nouvelle

Pennsylvania cyber charter leaders say they’re seeing a surge in student enrollments. One cyber official says his school is on track to double their student count this year. 

It’s turning out to be a trend that’s worrying public school superintendents. 

For some of the commonwealth’s school districts, cyber school tuition may turn out to be another, substantial, pandemic related cost. That’s because when a student enrolls at a public cyber school, their local district is sent a tuition bill. Even though Christoper Dormer, the superintendent of the norristown area school district, sent less than 130 students to cyber schools last year, he says his bill was still in the millions.

“The $125-ish that we have now, cost us upwards of you know, probably two to three million dollars,” said Dormer.

And Dormer says he wouldn’t be surprised if that number went up this year. This is all coming at a time when schools have to invest in their own new, digital supplies and programs while expecting less cash to come in.

“We’re predicting somewhere between a four and six million dollar reduction in local revenues based on what we collected last year.”

Dormer says he supports school choice but given the pandemic. He’d now like to see the department of education cap cyber charter enrollments or their tuition rates.

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