Written by Susan Spicka
January 25, 2022

In the 2020-2021 school year, school districts paid more than $1 billion in student tuition payments to cyber charter schools.

The state no longer provides funding to help districts pay for charter school tuition, so charter tuition bills are paid for primarily through property taxes.  

In the fall of 2021, Education Voters of PA filed Right to Know requests with Pennsylvania’s nine large cyber charter schools seeking invoices for advertising expenses.

Through our Right to Know requests and information from schools’ tax forms we estimate that Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools spent more than $35 million tax dollars on advertising in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

What we have learned is deeply troubling and should serve as a call to action for leaders in the Pennsylvania legislature to immediately allow a vote on legislation that will ensure public education dollars are used efficiently and appropriately educating children, They must also enact reforms that will hold charter schools to the same financial accountability and transparency standards as school districts.

The state audits school districts every three years and anyone can learn how their school district is spending the tax dollars it receives.

But when school property tax dollars are sent to cyber charter schools it becomes impossible to understand how these schools are spending the money they receive.

**Most of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools have never been audited or were audited many years ago.**

And because there is no state oversight over cyber charter schools’ finances, the opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse of tax dollars are staggering. And cyber charter school operators are taking advantage of these opportunities.

Cyber charter schools spent property tax dollars on bus wraps and, billboards; TV, radio and internet advertisements; and ads on Hulu, Pandora, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. They paid for museum sponsorships and embroidered Eddie Bauer vests and much, much, much more.

All of the responses from cyber charter schools may be found on this Google Drive

Click HERE for a summary of the responses we received and information from cyber charters’ tax forms.

Click HERE to read our executive director’s comments from the press conference.

Click HERE to find cyber charters’ graduation rates for 2019-2020. The average graduation rate for one of PA’s 9 large cyber charter schools is 58%.