Pa. rejects cyber school eyed for city Also denies 7 other school applications
BY BRIAN WALLACE, Staff Writer
The state has rejected a proposed cybercharter school that would have operated a satellite hub in Lancaster city beginning in the fall.
State Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis Monday denied the application for Urban Cyber Charter School, along with seven other proposed cybercharter schools, citing deficiencies in the schools' curricula, financing and operating plans.
Urban Cyber Charter had planned to open in the 2013-14 school year. It would have provided online instruction for grades six through 12, along with tutoring and networking services at regional YWCAs, including Lancaster's on North Lime Street.
Each YWCA would provide space for an Urban Cyber Cafe that would provide students with tutoring help, test proctoring, guest lectures and college recruitment activities, according to the school's application.
The Department of Education rejected Urban Cyber's application because of multiple deficiencies, according to a news release issued by the department.
The application had conflicting enrollment projections and lacked proof that the curriculum would align with academic standards, the agency said. The school also failed to demonstrate how it would meet the needs of disabled students, according to the department.
Urban Cyber Charter was to be managed by 3Cord Inc., a company that manages three "brick-and-mortar" alternative education and charter schools in York.
Officials with 3Cord could not be reached for comment, and Ryan Davis, president of the Urban Cyber Charter board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to published reports, the school plans to appeal the state's rejection of its application. It also has the option of submitting a revised application within 120 days of the start of the 2013-14 school year.
While local school boards approve charters for brick-and-mortar schools, the state is responsible for approving cybercharter schools.
Currently, 16 public online charter schools operate in Pennsylvania. Like all public charter schools, they are funded with tuition payments from the school districts in which charter school students live. In Lancaster County, about 1,500 students attend public charter schools, most of them cybercharters, that cost school districts nearly $14 million per year in tuition payments.
The state Legislature is currently considering changes to Pennsylvania's charter school law to reduce tuition costs for many school districts and hold charter schools to stricter financial accountability standards.