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UASD Hears Calls for Charter School Reform * Secondary Reopening Stymied by County Virus Figures

In his legislative report to the Upper Adams School District board on Monday, board member Christopher Fee noted the many burdens charter schools place on school district finances. 

Fee said 350 school districts across the commonwealth are “calling for charter school reform. There are good charter schools, there are less good charter schools, but the way that charters schools are funded in the commonwealth is not very forward-looking. There is talk for reform.”

Fee said charter schools were very expensive. “It’s not very well thought out and it’s getting to be a bigger and bigger proposition.  The funding implications are really dire. It’s money that comes out of the funding of the district.”

Fee noted that according to research from Stanford University, charter school outcomes “are not as good as one might hope and for cyber charters they tend to be absolutely abysmal. This is not god use of taxpayer money. It’s about time this is looked at in educational terms rather than in simply political terms.”

The board said 90 percent of funding for charter schools comes from local taxpayers and that cost for funding charter schools is going up faster than the district’s enrollment.

County COVID-19 Statistics Block School Re-openings

Although students in K-6 are in class five days per week, secondary schools remain on a hybrid A-B schedule. Having half the students attend one day and the other students attend the next day at the secondary campus (7-12) is how the district is able to meet state safety guidelines.

The problem is created by the fact the county’s COVID-19 positive rate is still in the “Substantial Level of Community Transmission” category. Board president Tom Wilson said the county has been in the “substantial” category for the last 15 weeks which is about half of the current school year.  “The numbers are currently falling, and fairly rapidly, but at no time during the current school year has the county been in low community transmission,” said Wilson.

Asked about the possibility of reopening the secondary schools full-time, Superintendent Wesley Doll said the state would not allow it.  “Our hands are tied for what is required,” he said. Doll said he had reached out to the state with the hope that new policies might be in the works but that he was told none were forthcoming.

“We continue to meet biweekly with our nurses.  We’ve been impressed with the numbers more recently. We’re in a really good place in each of our buildings with numbers coming down.  When students are sick and parents keep us home that really has saved us. We continue to praise our parents and community for their efforts. I know it’s difficult when you’re a parent and you have a sick child,” said Doll.

“We owe our superintendent, the administrators and the teachers a debt of gratitude for not only coming up with a plan to open our schools last September but to do so in as safe a way as possible. The results have been above expectations.  The children of our community have been the beneficiaries of their planning and effort,” said Wilson.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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