East Lycoming reviews cyber school tuition

HUGHESVILLE – Outreach for behaviorally challenged students and cyber and charter school tuition were topics of discussion at the East Lycoming School Board meeting, held Tuesday evening.

Principals Sherry Cowburn, of Ashkar Elementary, and Tommy Coburn, of Hughesville Junior High School, both reported that they had seen great success from the district’s Positive Behavior Recognition program, which rewards and recognizes students for good behavior throughout the school day.

Board member Richard Bradley praised the district’s high number of well-behaved students. However, he worried that the district isn’t doing enough to involve its small population of at-risk or behaviorally challenged students.

“I worry about those kids who have made bad decisions. What are we doing to help them and make them vested in the school environment?” Bradley asked.

Bradley said he understood that, in some cases, poorly behaved students need to be expelled for their own safety and for the safety of other students. Expelled individuals may end up attending a cyber school program to continue their education.

“I’m not sure if or when we could bring students back after an expulsion. But having them at home all day is isolating. They’re attending cyber schools, which I believe is the worst educational means for this particular group of at-risk kids,” Bradley said.

Cyber school and charter school attendees also place a heavy financial burden on the school district. According to Superintendent Michael Pawlik, the district spent an estimated $400,000 on charter and cyber school tuition in the 2012-13 school year.

During the meeting, the board adopted a resolution that calls for the reform of the state’s charter and cyber school funding formula. The resolution asks that the state come up with a cyber and charter school funding formula “based on the actual cost of educating students … at the charter school.”

The current funding formula calculates the cost of educating a student at a cyber charter school by focusing on the cost of educating that same student at a traditional school, according to Pawlik.