By Marion Callahan | OF THE MORNING CALL
July 10, 2009
Through their local school districts, taxpayers pay millions of dollars to educate special education students enrolled in Pennsylvania's increasing number of charter schools.
But state officials say a big chunk of that money is never spent on special education, a charge that some area charter schools are disputing.
Gov. Ed Rendell is now proposing to change how special education is funded for charter schools to prevent them from ''amassing reserves at taxpayers' expense,'' said Michael Race, a spokesman for the state Department of Education.
The state reports that of the $78 million set aside for the 127 charter schools for special education instruction in 2007-08, only $50 million was spent for that purpose.
''A school might get $15,000 to provide special education per pupil, but it only spent $10,000, so they are basically making $5,000 off that student,'' Race said. ''If you receive special education money for your charter school student, you either spend it on the student or you give it back to the taxpayers. . . .