PITTSBURGH – A suburban Pittsburgh school district is reviewing whether it should be paying for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's (search) children to use its Internet-based school, since the Pennsylvania senator and his family live in Virginia.
The Penn Hills district (search) has spent $100,000 educating the Republican's children since 2001-02, said Erin Vecchio, a school board member who requested the review. She also is head of the local Democratic committee.
"I'm concerned because [he is] taking away from my kid. That $100,000 ... could be going to my kids, a computer or something," said Vecchio, who has three children enrolled in Penn Hills schools.
Santorum's spokeswoman, Christine Shott (search), said the senator and his wife, who have six children, have divided their time between their Virginia home and the one in Penn Hills since they bought the Pennsylvania home in 1997. Shott wouldn't specify how much time the Santorums have spent in the Penn Hills residence, but said Santorum pays taxes, including school taxes, on the property.
Under Pennsylvania's 2002 cyberschool law, the district in which a student lives must pay the cost of tuition for students enrolled in online schools. Virginia has no such provision.
The Santorums' Penn Hills home was assessed for $106,000 last year, records show. The couple's home in Leesburg, Va., was assessed at $757,000 this year, according to records.
Cyberschool students access their assignments and teachers primarily through school Web sites using their own computers, which can be located anywhere.
As part of his duties as a senator, Santorum is required to travel often; his children often travel with him, Shott said.
Penn Hills School Superintendent Patricia Gennari said the matter is under review. "As we would do in any case for any citizen if there is a question of residency, the staff is looking into it," he said.