Update on Renewal of SCSC Charter - Jan. 15, 2020

We’re writing to update you on the Souderton Charter School Collaborative’s refusal to accept the conditional charter renewal the Souderton Area School Board granted on December 19, 2019. Under law, our Board must review the charter school’s performance, determine whether the school is complying with Pennsylvania school law, and renew or deny its charter accordingly every five years. The school cannot legally operate without a valid charter.

Our Board asked that in order to receive renewal of its charter, Souderton Charter School Collaborative (SCSC  / “the school”) come into compliance with two reasonable conditions provided in PA school charter law, by September 2020: 

1 – Offer the same healthcare to its employees as the Souderton Area School District.

2 – Bring at least 75% of its teaching staff up to date on appropriate certification. Currently, fewer than 50% of SCSC’s teachers are appropriately certified in accordance with standards established for PA schools. We are proud that 100% of Souderton teachers are fully certified.  

The District believes very strongly that it can compete with SCSC for the delivery of educational services, but it should be allowed to compete on the same level playing field. Simply put, SCSC, like most of the state’s charters, has been allowed to operate under a different set of rules. This charter school promotes itself as a public school, and is publicly funded by our taxpayers. However, it is not required to operate under the same set of laws and requirements as the state’s public schools. In fact, SCSC is not even following the law specific to charter schools. The inequities are unacceptable and extremely unfair to our taxpayers and to our school system.

This Board cannot ignore the school’s failure to comply with current statutes.  Our School District raised concerns about these two conditions with SCSC during our due diligence period as we audited the school and assessed whether we could grant renewal. SCSC has notified us that it will take legal action to fight against our conditions. 

Charter school tuition rates in Souderton have more than doubled over the last decade, and have far outpaced increases in funding from the state. This means that charter school costs increasingly burden the local taxpayer. This Board has worked very hard to maintain the lowest annual tax increases in the county and has raised taxes an average of only 1% over the past five years.  These increases brought in an additional $3.8 million total over five years, while charter schools siphoned off over $4 million last year alone.  It is plain to see how the broken charter school law hurts our local taxpayers. 

We are very proud of the dynamic, high quality education our school district offers its residents. We also recognize our need to balance the funding of our schools with our obligation to our taxpayers.  We consider it our duty to keep you updated on this matter, and to communicate transparently about it. Again, our goal is not to disparage SCSC, but rather to fulfill our duty to ensure that the school comply with state education law and compete on the same level playing field.

Thank you for your support for our school district.

Sincerely,
Souderton Area Board of School Directors and Administration