Chapter 19.9


How much of BEF Increases go to Mandated Charter School Tuition?

Our daily data series took a brief hiatus as we updated our data and maps with the release of the 2017-18 annual financial reporting data released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education earlier this month. Since then, PASBO has been reviewing and updating our shareable daily data and maps with the newest fiscal year. As part of this effort, we updated the data analyzing mandated cost growth in the 3 major areas impacting school district budgets and local taxpayers: charter school tuition, special education and pensions.

We restart our daily data series with the first state mandated cost: charter school tuition.
Our Infogram at the following link illustrates the growth from 2007-08 to 2017-18 in charter school tuition costs and the annual % increase each year. Charter school tuition costs increased by a staggering 10.18% during the 2017-18 school year over the 2016-17 costs, increasing approximately $170 million to $1.8 billion.

The rise in the cost of charter schools statewide equaled a 1% annual increase in school district operating expenditures between just the 2017-18 and 2016-17 school years alone. For most school districts, however, the increasing mandated cost for charter school tuition has been a substantial piece of increases in school district operating expenditures and property taxes.
Over the coming days, we’ll continue to share our interactive maps and data below illustrating for each school district the comparative magnitude of charter school cost growth and the impact of these costs on local school districts and taxpayers.
Our first map below, compares the 5 year increase in mandated charter school tuition costs (2012-13 to 2017-18) to the 5-year increase in state basic education funding. The pop-up menu shows the % of each school district's BEF increase that was eaten up by increased charter school tuition costs. Additionally, the pop-up menu illustrates the amount of BEF $ available to the district after covering all of the charter school tuition increases. Note: for school districts with negative amounts of BEF remaining, growth in charter school costs outpaced their increase in BEF.
For 95 school districts during this time period, the increase in mandated charter school tuition costs was greater than the increase in the state basic education funding (the median school district observed an increase in mandated charter tuition costs equal to 140% of their basic education funding increase). After eating up all of the basic education funding increases during these 5 years, these 95 school districts still had to pay an additional $135 million collectively for in charter school tuition.
Statewide between 2012-13 and 2017-18, the increase in mandated charter school tuition costs represented 82.3% of the increase in state basic education funding to school districts. In other words, 82 cents of every $1 in basic education funding during this time frame went towards mandated charter school tuition increases, or 18 cents towards helping school districts cover the cost of other state mandated cost increases such as special education and pensions.

Stayed tuned tomorrow as we analyze the updated data measuring how mandated charter school tuition costs have impacted property tax payers statewide and for local school district budgets.