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Schuylkill Schools

Pottsville Still Doesn’t Pay Charter School Fees — But You Do and Will

In a Philadelphia Inquirer article Friday (Sept. 6, 2019), Pottsville Area School District Superintendent Jeffrey Zwiebel says the school still doesn’t pay Gillingham Charter School. The school lets the state do it.

Pottsville doesn’t do it because it never has — for 98 months. Not once did it pay Gillingham for the Pottsville kids going there.

It’s got a personal beef with Gillingham. That’s pretty obvious. 

It’s not clear why other districts refuse these payments. But the charter schools need this money they’re entitled to receive. And to get it, they’re forced to file paperwork with the state to get the money they think is owed to them.

That’s putting a lot of burden on the state and now Gov. Tom Wolf imposes fees on the charter schools to file these requests for the money they’re owed. Again, it wouldn’t be necessary in most of Gillingham’s cases if Pottsville just OK’d the payments for students who choose the charter school.

Critics of the fees told The Inquirer that the governor essentially wants to doom charters with these fees.

Pottsville Refuses to Pay Gillingham Charter School

As an approved charter school, Gillingham gets money from local school districts. If a kid from Pottsville goes to Gillingham, Pottsville Area must pay Gillingham. According to The Inquirer, 71 of the 250 students at Gillingham live in Pottsville school district boundaries.

So, Pottsville should be on the hook for the money. But it refuses to pay the school. From the way he described it, Zwiebel indicates the school doesn’t even look at the requests it gets from Gillingham. “We just let the state take it,” he says.

What this means in relation to the news here is that Gillingham now must pay the state $15 per student to get the fees it’s owed from Pottsville but get it from the state instead.

Pottsville Double Talk

However, Zwiebel gives two reasons why the school doesn’t pay. One counters the other. It makes no sense.

Zwiebel told The Inquirer that Pottsville doesn’t approve the payments because:

  • The state doesn’t mandate that it collect the payments. He said, “We just let the state take it out of our subsidy. If the state ordered us … we would do it.”
  • But then he gives another reason. He said, “We also had a lot of issues with the paperwork they were sending.”

If you’re just willing to let the state handle the payments to Gillingham, why even bother looking at the requests from Gillingham? It seems the Pottsville Superintendent just wants to make Gillingham look bad here.

But, this sort of double-take is something we’ve seen before from Pottsville Area School District administrators and elected board members. You can’t have this argument both ways. It’s obvious, Zwiebel tries to cast doubt on Gillingham’s credibility and gets away with it because The Inquirer doesn’t say it makes him prove that statement.

Neither reason is legit because Zwiebel and the entrenched school board fail to realize that whether the state or the local school district administers the payment to the charter school, it’s the local property owners paying for it.


State Audit: Pottsville Schools Finance Management “Especially Alarming”

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  1. barbkaz

    September 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Why are teachers leaving Pottsville for lower paying jobs in local districts?

    • Justsayin

      September 13, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      Because job security isn’t the best there. Morale is bad and administrators stink in Postville.

  2. Tiedyedmom

    September 16, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Think about it….if you are a deadbeat dad, the government will attach your wages for child support. This is exactly what is happening here. Try to remember that each student has a dollar amount attached to them, whether they attend a regular public school or a charter. The home school KEEPS 30% of that money for transportation costs and such, so the charter is receiving only 70% of it. On top of that, they aren’t receiving those payments directly, and never have. PDE has now taken on the role of Domestic relations! It’s absolute insanity.

  3. Mark

    September 16, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    This district is a dumpster fire and Zwiebel has been in over his head from day one. He took a once great school district and put it in a financial hole all while driving down the educational quality and morale of the people who work there. Plus the school board needs to wake up and realize that Zwiebel works for the board, not the other way around. Fire this guy and bring in someone from the outside to straighten out this mess.

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