Dear Parents, Staff & Community Members of the Coatesville Area School District:
We are asking you to contact Governor Tom Wolf, your State Senator and State Representative to support efforts the Administration and School Board are making to address funding issues related to burdensome payments to Charter Schools. The Coatesville Area School District (CASD) is third in the state for total charter expenses and when public dollars are already stretched thin, charter schools have a major impact on our budget due to mandated reimbursement rates.
Another contributing factor to our issue is the Special Education Charter School Tuition Rate calculation. That calculation assumes all Districts have only 16% of their student’s in charter schools, but the charters have diagnosed, correctly or not, almost 20% of the students they draw from CASD as in need of Special Education. We are trying to do all that we can to contain costs, but when the cost of charter school reimbursements grows by $3 to $4 million annually at a minimum, it is difficult to balance the budget. These unfair payments to charter schools have led to many of them having extra funds, while CASD has a deficit that could lead to increased taxes.
It should also be noted that all of the charter schools are located outside of Coatesville, approved by neighboring school boards, while our school board and residents are stuck with the bills. While we are in a deficit, many of the charters now have surplus funds they are utilizing for extravagant improvements all outside of the school district. The increasing costs of charter schools have left us with the difficult position of either asking you, the home owners, to carry an increasingly large percentage of the school funding bill, cutting programs and/or making elementary class sizes too large by further cuts to positions. The latter two options just increase the incentive for students to go to charter schools, which then adds to the problem and future tax increases for residents.
Due to this the CASD Administration and Board support statewide charter school reform legislation, but are asking for more direct help from the State on two immediate items. First is help with recent and unforeseen very large deductions from two charter schools and to also be placed in an "intercept" status by the PA Department of Education to freeze future payments.
The State Legislators that represent our area fully understand the issue and are in support of our efforts, but they need to help in taking this message to Harrisburg. Thus, please take the opportunity to follow the directions on this page to take action to help fight this disparity. More information is available through below link, and please feel free to contact CASD at 610-466-2433 with any questions.
Dr. Richard Dunlap
School District Financial Review - Presented December 3, 2019