Allentown School District audit report has failing grade

 

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools declined a request from the Allentown School District to accept cuts in tuition payments.

The district had passed a $320 million budget with a 1.75% tax increase in June. It had also passed a resolution asking charter schools to accept a 10% deduction in tuition payments.

The district is set to pay $60 million toward charter schools. It had hoped to cut that by $6 million, which would cover its budget hole.

The coalition, which represents some but not all of the Valley's charter schools, called the requested reduction in tuition payments "not acceptable for several reasons."

The school district is already deducting 32% from the payments made to public charter schools, making it one of the highest deductions in any district in the state, the coalition said in the letter. The coalition said a 10% deduction would mean reducing resources for public charter school students.

The coalition said in the letter the state had provided the district $10 million in 2018 to help it balance its budget.

The coalition said "the district's lack of fiscal restraint continues to cause expenditures to outpace revenue," saying this was "no fault of the public charter schools that receive tuition from the ASD."

The coalition said increases in salaries as well as pension expenses are bigger drivers of the district's budget issues.

The district needs to address the "internal cost drivers that are negatively affecting the district rather than looking elsewhere" such as charter schools for "lifelines."

The letter also said Charter School Law prohibits cyber charter schools from compromising the tuition rates as a matter of statute.

WFMZ News reached out to the Allentown School District but has yet to hear back.

Ce Ce Gerlach, an Allentown School District board member, told 69 News in June other cuts would need to come if the 10% cut could not be agreed on.

She said cutting consulting costs and increasing tax collections would be options. Laying off employees would be the last step, Gerlach had said.