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11/15/2019 05:59 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=30385
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: September 20, 2019 02:31 PM
From: Representative Curtis G. Sonney
To: All House members
Subject: School District Cyber Education Programs
 
I am preparing to introduce legislation that will require all school districts in the Commonwealth to offer full-time cyber education programs accountable to local communities.

In 2002, the General Assembly authorized the creation of cyber charter schools, which are authorized at the state level. None of these schools are accountable to local communities even though local taxpayer dollars are used to support them.

Under my legislation, the constant tension between school districts and cyber charter schools will be eliminated. Cyber charter schools, instead of being separate school entities, will be able to serve as third-party vendors and work with school districts to offer full-time cyber education programs. School districts will also be given the flexibility in creating their own full-time cyber education programs or work with third-party vendors such as intermediate units, cyber charter schools, institutions of higher education, other school districts, or educational entities to offer these programs.

The goal of my legislation is to offer students access to high-quality cyber education programs in a way that is accountable and transparent to local communities.

Key components of my legislation include:
  • School districts must offer full-time cyber education programs by the 2021-22 school year.
  • To preserve school choice, school districts will be required to offer students with the choice to attend three different full-time cyber education programs.
  • In order to participate in a full-time cyber program, students and parents must participate in an annual onboarding process and orientation.
  • To ensure direct access to teachers, there are maximum student-to-teacher ratios for core subjects.
  • All staff must be properly certified.
  • If a certain number of students are enrolled in the cyber program, the school district must establish a cyber school for academic accountability purposes.
  • The State Board of Education must convene a Cyber Education Advisory Committee consisting of superintendents, school board members, and representatives from intermediate units, third-party vendors, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to provide advice and guidance on cyber education.
  • If a school district contracts with a third-party vendor, all information related to the contract is required to be posted on the district’s publicly available website.
  • A public hearing must be held on a school district’s planned cyber education offerings.
As chairman of the House Education Committee, I constantly hear concerns from constituents related to the cost and accountability of cyber charter schools. Cyber education is an important choice parents should be able to make for their children, but local accountability is desperately needed to control the quality and cost of these programs. Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.

CS/ak/cmc



Introduced as HB1897