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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2015 01:21 PM
From: Senator Sean Wiley
To: All Senate members
Subject: Competitive bidding for cyber education
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to create a competitive bidding system for cyber education in Pennsylvania.

Currently, school districts are responsible for paying tuition on behalf of those students residing in their district, whether they choose to attend a brick-and-mortar or cyber charter school. Cyber tuition currently has no relationship to the cost of providing an online education, but instead represents the per-student expenditure of each student’s home district which ranges widely from $6,600 per year to $17,000 per year for non-special education students. Given that cyber charter schools benefit from a very different cost structure than that of brick-and-mortar schools, it seems clear that this is not the fairest way to pay for their services.

My proposal will increase competition, assure quality, and reimburse cyber charter education providers at a fair rate. Cyber education providers, including licensed cyber charters and school district cyber programs, would bid competitively to be the primary cyber charter school for a designated region in Pennsylvania. There would be eight designated regions as determined by the Department of Education. Each school year, a bid would be offered for proposed cyber tuition per student, with the designation of a primary regional cyber charter going to the lowest responsible bidder. If a student chooses an online educational program that is not provided by his or her local district, intermediate unit, or primary regional cyber charter, the cost of that education would be borne by the student's parent or guardian – just as it would be if a student attended school in a district other than the home district.

This proposal will help ascertain the true cost of educating a child online while encouraging open competition among online education providers. I hope you will join me in sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB128