Pennsylvania’s 14 cyber charters enroll more than 36,000 students. Their model is very different from that of school districts – students learn at home via computer and generally don’t go to a physical location. But they are paid based on school district costs, not their actual expenses. In a 2012 report, Auditor General Jack Wagner said that Pennsylvania cybers were getting $105 million more than the national average for cyber spending.
Cyber charter administrators argue that their schools have costs that school districts don’t, like paying for student computers and renting space for annual state tests. And they say that education spending is high in Pennsylvania, and the cyber payments simply reflect that reality.
Critics, however, say that the cybers, several of which are operated by for-profit providers, are using the funds for advertising and to increase their profit margin.