There is a rapidly expanding charter chain in Pennsylvania called Propel.

It has charter schools in several districts in the state with a total enrollment of 2,000. They are “no excuses” schools, and they reportedly get high test scores.

The Propel charter chain wants to open a K-12 charter school in the small district of Sto-Rox, which has 1,400 students.

The charter school would enroll 800 students.

Last November, the school board unanimously rejected its request saying that it would have a “devastating” impact on the public schools. The ¬†charter chain returned with a revised proposal.

At a hearing earlier this month, residents debated the merits of the proposal. Charter school parents supported the idea. Teachers and students in the public schools opposed it.

Based on the amount of money the public schools would lose, the district would probably be bankrupted by the charter school.

Sto-Rox families would pay no tuition to attend Propel. Cost to the district would be $11,000 per student annually, said Jean Mayes, board member. Currently, Sto-Rox spends approximately $8,000 per student, she said.

According to state Department of Education data, the district spent $7,277 per elementary student and $12,154 per secondary student in 2009-2010. The district had 1,375 students registered that year, with 584 in elementary, 409 in middle school and 382 in high school.

For the 2011-2012 budget, the district lost $1.2 million in funding due to state budget cuts. Accountability Block Grants, which fund such programs as full-day kindergarten, partial charter school reimbursement and Educational Assistance Program, which provides tutoring for students in need, were cut by the state.

During the hearing, Jeremy Resnick, executive director and Propel founder, stated that the demand for another charter school is there.

He referred to a petition with 251 signatures indicating interest in having a Propel school in the area. Of those signatures, 234 were from Sto-Rox residents and 131 checked a box indicating they had children who were interested in attending, he said.

So from the founder’s testimony, the chain wants to open a school for 800 students because the parents of 131 students expressed interest.

Earlier this week, the school board surprisingly agreed to form a committee to sit down and talk with the Propel charter chain.

The founder of the chain called this decision “courageous.”

Will Sto-Rox go the way of Chester-Upland, where a charter school absorbed most of their funding and drove the local schools into bankruptcy?