PCPCS News

House Education Committee Examines Reopening Schools

PCPCS leader to testify about what is needed to teach 143,000 students in public charter schools during the pandemic

HARRISBURG (Aug. 3, 2020) – Brian Hayden, CEO of PA Cyber Charter School and a board member of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, on Tuesday will join other education leaders in testifying before the House Education Committee on how public charter schools are preparing to return to school this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House Education Committee has scheduled the hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, to examine how to safely reopen schools during the pandemic. The hearing will be live streamed at: http://www.pahousegop.com/livestreams.

Hayden will discuss how Pennsylvania’s 14 public cyber charter schools have been assisting brick-and-mortar schools – district, private and charter – improve their online education services to students and families. Pennsylvania’s public cyber charter schools have been teaching students online for the past 20 years.

“We are sharing our collective knowledge and expertise with our colleagues, at no cost, because we care about every student, not just the ones who enroll in our schools,” Hayden says in his testimony.

Hayden will also discuss the needs of Pennsylvania brick-and-mortar charter schools, which are planning to return students to the classroom. Charter leaders are concerned about access to transportation for their students, as well as ensuring that their economically disadvantaged students have access to high-speed internet and computers.

Public cyber charter schools have seen an increase in enrollment since schools were closed on March 13 due to the pandemic. That trend has continued during the summer. Hayden estimates that his school receives nearly 1,000 calls per week inquiring about enrollment.

In January, Hayden testified before the House Education Committee in opposition to legislation that would have effectively shut down the state’s 14 public cyber charter schools. Hayden noted that school district officials at that time sought funding cuts for cyber charters, saying it should only cost $4,500 to teach a student online. After the schools were shut down, however, he said those same school district officials sought billions to cover the high cost of curriculum and technology for teaching online.

For a copy of Hayden’s testimony, please contact Jess Hickernell at j.hickernell@pacharters.org.

About PCPCS: The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) is the state’s largest and most active organization advocating for both brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools. Pennsylvania’s 180 charter schools educate more than 143,000 students and demand for these public schools continue to grow with more than 40,000 students on charter school waitlists. For more information on PCPCS or charters schools, visit www.pacharters.org.