Mars Area purchases new software

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The Mars Area school board on Tuesday approved software that will allow the district do more online, and voted to join a class action lawsuit against a cyber charter school.

The software from Harris School Solutions will cost $8,500, plus training, but will allow staff to requisition supplies online.

It will also allow for groups to request the use of school facilities online instead of the paper forms now required, said board President J. Dayle Ferguson. There will be a link to the online form on the district’s Website.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

The board also voted to join other school districts across Pennsylvania in a class action lawsuit against PA Cyber Academy over previous tuition payments for 4-year-olds.

Solicitor Tom King said PA Cyber would admit 4-year-olds to its program, then charge the local school districts for the tuition.

The Slippery Rock Area School District originally took the issue to court, contending that it should not be required to pay tuition for students who are not eligible to be enrolled in the public schools. State law forbids school districts to enroll students younger than 5 years old, Mr. King said.

Mr. King, whose firm represented Slippery Rock in the suit, said the lower courts sided with PA Cyber, but the state Supreme Court reversed those rulings.

“The Supreme Court ruled that, because the law was clear in the school code that the public schools could not admit students who were younger than 5, we did not have to pay for PA Cyber,” he said.

The class action suit, which was filed by different attorneys, seeks to recover the tuition payments from the cyber school.

Mr. King said the amount of tuition paid to PA Cyber varies, but is between $15,000 and $20,000 per district.

There is no cost to the district to be involved in the suit, he said. “If they recover money for the schools, that’s fine. If they don’t, we aren’t out anything.”

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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