Emrick Education Reform Legislation Passed by State House
HARRISBURG – Legislation authored by former teacher and current state Rep. Joe Emrick (R-Northampton) that would bring about long-overdue reform to Pennsylvania’s charter and cyber charter schools is now in the hands of the state Senate, following overwhelming passage Wednesday in the House.

“My goal, during the years I taught in the classroom, was to provide my students with the best possible education,” Emrick said. “On a larger scale, those objectives remain the same in my role as a state representative, and they are embodied in this bill.

“It is a necessary piece of legislation that reinforces and, in some cases, inserts accountability, ethics, integrity and performance measures into a system hit hard by recent scandal and subsequent federal indictments.”

House Bill 618 would create a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to address inequities in the formula that determines funding for charter and cyber charter schools and make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor by March 30, 2014. The commission, which is comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and legislators, would meet with stakeholders and examine the true cost of educating a child.

“The bill would create a matrix to measure and assess the academic performance of charter and cyber charter schools and require all initial and renewal charter and cyber charter school applicants to include a teacher evaluation system,” added Emrick. “As an incentive to hitting those academic benchmarks, House Bill 618 would offer the schools a 10-year renewal term on top of their initial term of five years.”

Emrick’s legislation would end overpayment of pension costs to cyber charter schools, referred to as the “pension double dip.”

“Most Pennsylvania taxpayers will be shocked to learn cyber charter schools are being reimbursed 100 percent of their pension costs by local school districts, in addition to a 50 percent reimbursement from the state Department of Education,” said Emrick. “House Bill 618 would allow school districts statewide to retain approximately $84 million over two years, while protecting Pennsylvania property tax payers and marking the first step in much-needed pension reform.”

Over a two-year period, schools in the 137th Legislative District, which Emrick represents, would realize the following savings:

• Bangor Area School District – $158,048.62
• Easton Area School District – $353,815.70
• Nazareth Area School District - $158,048.52

“House Bill 618 improves education options for students by protecting the choice their parents make to send them to charter and cyber charter schools,” Emrick concluded. “I am hopeful we can move this bill through the Senate and on to the governor’s desk, especially in light of the level of bipartisan support it received in the House.”

Representative Joe Emrick
137th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
RepEmrick.com / Facebook.com/RepEmrick
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