The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 16, 2014

Readers' Forum 6-16 | Cyber, charter schools not worth money

JOHNSTOWN — All American children have the right to receive a good public education. In Pennsylvania, the state is supposed to augment the shortfall in funding that many school districts face. Not every district is wealthy.

Unfortunately, there is a program in effect that works the wrong way and does not produce the educational results that it has been heralded to accomplish.

More than $1 billion has been earmarked for charter and cyberschools. The funding of these programs is arbitrary. The individual school districts are not all the same per student.

The funding is determined by the amount each school district allocates for the education of each public school child. In 2012, $376 million was allocated for cyberschools. (2012 is the most recent year that accounting for cyberschools is available.)

A wealthy district that reportedly spent $15,000 per public-school student was allocated $15,000 per cyberschool or charter-school student. A poorer district that could only spend $10,000 per public-school student was allocated $10,000 per cyberschool student.

It does not cost the cyberschool companies any more to provide their services, regardless of the student’s physical location. Indeed, the cost is much less and must be reviewed and carefully examined.

But most reprehensible is the fact that neither charter nor cyberschools perform as well as public schools.

Public schools have a graduation rate of 84 percent. Charter schools have somewhat lower. Cyberschools had 60 percent graduation. In fact, only about 10 percent of cyberschool students could pass standard tests.

Sam Contakos


Comparison shop for prescription costs

Here is another reason to comparison shop and to shop at locally owned businesses. There is a wide disparity in how much is charged for a prescription drug I need.

I called five pharmacies in the Johnstown area. At three chain pharmacies, the cost for the prescription ranged from $167 to $240. At two local, independently owned pharmacies, the cost was just a little less than $23.

Quite a large difference.

According to Forbes, one of these pharmacies completed 94 store remodels, three expansions and two relocations in just the last quarter. And its net income was $57 million last quarter.

Some businesses are making quite a profit.

It makes sense to call before you have your prescription refilled.

Paula Popp

Geistown Borough


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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