For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Spicka

New Report Finds Staggering, Exponential Increase In Cyber Charter Asset Hoards From 2018-2022 and More Than $21 Million Spent On Advertising and Gift Cards In a Single Year 

Property taxes paid by home and business owners in school districts across the commonwealth are being used to fund cyber charter school asset hoards, property purchases, and advertising.

HARRISBURG, PA (May 17, 2024) – On Thursday, May 16th, Education Voters of Pennsylvania issued a new report that examines information collected from Form 990s (federal tax returns) and Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) from fiscal years 2018-2022 for the four largest cyber charters in Pennsylvania, including Agora Cyber Charter School, Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), Reach Cyber Charter School, and Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber).

The report also includes an inventory of 35 properties purchased by Commonwealth Charter Academy and more than 1800 invoices for cyber charter advertising and promotion and gift card purchases obtained through Right to Know Requests.

Key findings include:

Pennsylvania’s four largest cyber charter schools reported a staggering 92,000% increase (or an increase of 921x) in their assets from 2018-2022.

  • In 2018, Pennsylvania’s four largest cyber charter schools reported a total of $566,858 in the net assets or fund balance category on their Form 990s. 
  • In 2022, they reported net assets or fund balance of $486 million.

An inventory of properties demonstrates that Commonwealth Charter Academy is amassing a real estate empire across the commonwealth that is funded by property taxes paid by homeowners in school districts that cannot afford to fix and maintain their own buildings.

  • Our report details 35 locations that CCA owns and occupies and nine others that they lease. CCA has purchased 29 buildings since 2018 (See full report).
  • CCA paid a total of $88.7 million for the properties it currently owns. Those properties have assessed values totaling $43.1 million. 

Our findings indicate inconsistent reporting patterns across the AFR and Form 990 filings, which highlights the need for forensic audits to provide a full understanding of the financial standing of the schools and to ensure that spending has been in compliance with state laws.

Additional evidence of excess funding and waste is demonstrated by more than 1800 pages of invoices acquired through Right to Know requests that show cyber charters spent more than $21 million on advertising and gift cards during the 2022-2023 school year. 

“Pennsylvania law mandates that school districts send cyber charter schools far more funding than they need to educate students. Cyber charter schools are awash in excess funding that is in plain sight,” said Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA.

“State lawmakers must finally take steps to align cyber charter tuition payments with the cost of providing an online education. This will help ensure that school property taxes are invested in providing educational opportunities for students, not packed in cyber charter asset hoards or wasted on advertising.”

The report calls for the General Assembly to enact funding reforms that will match tuition school districts pay to cyber charter schools with their actual costs; conduct audits of all cybers and forensic audits of the four largest cybers; return the proceeds of the sale of any charter school properties or other assets to taxpayers; and enact a moratorium on new cyber charter schools until all cybers have valid charters.

Click HERE for a copy of the report.

Click HERE for a spreadsheet with financial data. 

Click HERE for a Drive with invoices for advertising, promotion, and gift card invoices.