Saturday, January 14, 2012

Latest Updates on Chester Upland

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Update November 13th, 2012

Executive summary is 7 pages……
Chester Upland School District Recovery Plan
School Districts Financial Recovery Act Recovery Plan
Chester Upland School District, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Prepared on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education
Chief Recovery Officer, November 13, 2012
By Public Financial Management, Two Logan Square, Suite 1600, 18th and Arch Streets Philadelphia, PA 19103-2770  215 567 6100

Chester Upland: Troubled Pa. district faces school closings, cuts

PA State Wire AP News by KATHY MATHESON Published: November 15, 2012
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A proposed recovery plan unveiled Tuesday for the deeply troubled Chester Upland education system calls for shuttering nearly half its schools, hiring two new top administrators and cutting dozens of jobs.
It also imposes a two-year deadline for improving chronically low student performance that, if not met, would result in outside managers taking over the impoverished district.
Such drastic changes are crucial to restoring the district's academic quality and fiscal health, said Joseph Watkins, the state-appointed chief recovery officer spearheading the proposal.
"We know this will be a tough, hard year for everybody," Watkins said in a statement. "But if we don't make the difficult choices now ... we will have no chance of remaining a viable school district."
Acting Superintendent Thomas Persing said the overall proposal - developed after several public meetings - contains few surprises. But hitting the proposed achievement targets will be nearly impossible, he said.
"It's beyond my comprehension" how that might happen, Persing said Tuesday.

Chester Upland: Road to recovery calls for closures, staff cuts
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Chief Recovery Officer Joe Watkins released a financial and academic recovery plan for the Chester Upland School District on Tuesday that restores art and music programs but includes mid-year staffing cuts, school consolidations and a tax increase.
Watkins’ plan seeks to bring financial stability to Chester Upland by closing the district’s deficit through staffing cuts, school closures and real estate sales. It also requires the district to bolster its academic programs in an effort to regain students — and their subsidies — lost to charter and cyber schools.

“If the district fails to meet certain scholastic performance goals, such as federal annual progress targets, by the end for the 2014-15 school year, the plan calls for the schools to be run by external management operations such as charter schools, cyber charters, and education management companies.”

Chester Upland plan: Close 3 schools, sell buildings

POSTED: Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 1:45 PM
To win back students who have fled its schools and escape its deep financial crisis, the troubled Chester Upland district will have to embrace a "radical and bold plan" that includes closing three schools, selling several buildings, and overhauling its approach to academics, according to a state report issued Tuesday.
"The choice is stark: reform or become irrelevant and go out of business as a direct education provider," said the report, released by Joseph P. Watkins, the state-appointed Chester Upland School District recovery officer.
If the district fails to meet certain scholastic performance goals, such as federal annual progress targets, by the end for the 2014-15 school year, the plan calls for the schools to be run by external management operations such as charter schools, cyber charters, and education management companies.

Chester Upland schools' recovery plan 'radical and bold'

WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies November 13, 2012
A state-appointed turnaround officer has presented what he calls a "radical and bold" recovery plan for the troubled Chester Upland School District, warning that if things don't change, the entire district could be turned over to a private operator to manage.  Chester Upland has been plagued by both educational failure and financial dysfunction for nearly 20 years.
The prescription from Pennsylvania-appointed recovery officer Joe Watkins is strong medicine: closing schools, cutting staff, imposing new responsibilities and accountability standards for teachers, and raising property taxes. While the student-to-teacher ratio rises under the plan, educational standards are supposed to climb, too.

Update September 6th, 2012

Posted at 08:57 PM ET, 09/05/2012

The sad, sad school district Michelle Obama mentioned

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Early in her triumphant speech at the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama spoke about “the very best of the American spirit” and praised a school district but did not mention it by name. That district is Chester Upland in Pennsylvania, and, unfortunately, it is in the direst of straits. School reform efforts — including opening charter schools — have done nothing but sink the district into deeper trouble.

Inquirer Editorial: Come clean on Chester Upland
August 26, 2012
If the latest attempt by the state Department of Education to rescue the ailing Chester Upland School District sounds familiar, there's a reason for that.
The state has been there, done that, and failed miserably. Now it wants another crack at running the Delaware County district. Please, find a better idea to give these children the adequate education they are entitled to.
For 16 of the last 18 years, the district has been operated by several state entities. Yet, it remains one of the worst in the state, not only failing another generation academically, but also unable to get its finances in order.

Update August 26, 2012
Posted: Sun, Aug. 26, 2012, 8:33 AM
New Chester Upland chief is change agent and lightning rod
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
Joe Watkins has worked for a U.S. president and a senator, has served as an investment company manager, and twice ran for statewide office.
In 2010, Students First, the pro-vouchers and charter-school political action committee he headed, made the largest total contribution from a single source to one candidate in Pennsylvania history - $3.3 million to Philadelphia Democrat Anthony Hardy Williams.
Watkins, 59, lives in Philadelphia, where he's the pastor of a North Philadelphia church. His career has taken turns as varied as working for the singer Whitney Houston, as an assistant to the University of Pennsylvania's president, and as a Republican political television commentator.
Watkins' newest job, crafting a recovery plan for the ailing Chester Upland School District, has made him a target for critics who say he got the job as a political reward and was put there to dismantle public education in favor of privatization and charters.

On the road to recovery: Joe Watkins chosen to help Chester Upland turn around its finances.
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP, @DT_JohnKopp
CHESTER — The office of Joe Watkins can be found in the bowels of the Chester Upland School District administration building, tucked away beyond a stairwell.
Three business days into his position as the district’s chief recovery officer, his desktop was mostly empty. A stack of unopened boxes stood in front of his desk while another series of boxes lined a wall beneath a whiteboard.  
Watkins hardly was settled into his new role, but he said he already had begun a dialogue with district administrators and school board members. When district employees poked their heads into his office, he greeted them by name.

Corbett should reveal true intent on Chester Upland
Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012
If the latest attempt by the state Department of Education to rescue the ailing Chester Upland School District sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that.
The state has been there, done that, and failed miserably. Now it wants another crack at running the Delaware County district. Please, find a better idea to give these children the adequate education they are entitled to.  For 16 of the last 18 years, the district has been operated by several state entities. Yet, it remains one of the worst in the state, not only failing another generation academically, but also unable to get its finances in order.

Posted: Sat, Aug. 25, 2012, 3:01 AM
Chester Upland board votes to work with school choice leader
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer
The Chester Upland school board voted unanimously Thursday night to work with state-appointed Chief Recovery Officer Joe Watkins in crafting a recovery plan for the financially distressed Delaware County district.
Watkins was selected as chief recovery officer this month by Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis under new legislation that gives Watkins broad power to recommend closing schools, renegotiating the teachers' contract, making budget cuts, privatizing school management, and turning schools into charters.

Chester Upland board gives thumbs up to financial recovery officer
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP @DT_JohnKopp
CHESTER — The Chester Upland School Board approved a state-appointed officer charged with developing a financial recovery plan at a special board meeting Thursday.  The board voted, 8-0, to approve Joe Watkins as the district’s chief recovery officer, a position created under the new distressed schools legislation. Watkins, a Philadelphia preacher and analyst for MSNBC, stepped away from his role as chairman of Students First, a school choice advocacy organization, to accept his new role.

Governor Corbett’s Privatization Agenda in Pennsylvania

Diane Ravitch’s Blog August 23, 2012
The Governor appointed a prominent advocate for vouchers and charters to a position that puts him in complete control of the district and its future. Ironically, the “recovery officer” has been a consultant to the charter school in the district that takes away 1/3 of the district’s stressed budget. The charter school is owned by the governor’s biggest campaign contributor. The charter school owner collects $16 million each year as a management fee.  So many interesting coincidences!

Update August 23, 2012

Posted: Thu, Aug. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM
Joe Watkins: Concerns over school choice advocate taking charge of Chester's struggling schools
BY WILL BUNCH Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer
IT MIGHT HAVE once seemed unthinkable: Handing the keys to a large, troubled public-school district over to a high-profile advocate for increasing privatization, including vouchers and for-profit private schools.  But activists said that last Friday's surprise announcement that Gov. Corbett had named the Rev. Joe Watkins - an MSNBC pundit who headed the Students First PAC, the pro-voucher group that's dumped millions of campaign dollars on Corbett and other pols - as chief recovery officer to run the Chester Upland schools in Delaware County marks a tipping point.

Joe Watkins: What Will Happen to Chester Upland?

Diane Ravitch’s Blog August 21, 2012
Sometimes something happens that is so astonishing, so breathtaking, and simultaneously so disturbing that I don’t know how to characterize it.

“Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse”
Joe Watkins: Taking the Public out of Public Education
Yinzercation Blog — AUGUST 22, 2012
Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis just picked Joe Watkins to be the Chief Recovery Officer (CRO) for the struggling school district in Chester Uplands. Under new laws passed with the budget this summer, the state can now appoint a CRO to develop a “financial recovery plan” for districts like Chester Upland over in Eastern PA and Duquesne, right here in the heart of Yinzer Nation.
The CRO has enormous power to close schools and convert them to charters, to cancel contracts with vendors, and to renegotiate teachers’ contracts. He can even force local school boards to raise property taxes. And if school board members don’t go along with the plan, the state actually now has the ability to prevent individuals from resigning their posts! 

"It would have been hard to come up with a nominee who is more publicly associated with the effort to undermine public education…"

Controversial choice to turn Chester Upland schools around

WHYY Newsworks By Dave Davies August 20, 2012
The man chosen to fix the Chester Upland School District's troubled finances is proving to be controversial from the start.
State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis picked Joe Watkins as chief recovery officer for the troubled school system. Watkins is a Philadelphia minister and former investment manager who heads a political action committee that advocates for school choice initiatives such as vouchers and charter schools.
State Sen. Daylin Leach, who sits on the education committee, said Watkins is an ideologue who is ill-suited to rebuilding a strong public school system.
"It would have been hard to come up with a nominee who is more publicly associated with the effort to undermine public education," said Leach, D-Montgomery.

School Choice Group's Chairman Takes Over Pa. Recovery District

 Andrew Ujifusa  
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis has named Joe Watkins, the chairman of Students First PA, a pro-school-choice advocacy group, as chief recovery officer of a school district that last week was designated as in "financial recovery," the state education department said in an Aug. 17 statement.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer story highlights, Watkins will have broad authority to remake the Chester Upland district in a variety of ways. He has the power to convert traditional public schools into charters, close schools, and demand a new teachers' contract. Perhaps not surprisingly, a Chester Upland school board member told the Inquirer that the decision to appoint Watkins was "shocking" because she viewed Watkins as not "objective."

On Joe Watkins: The Chester Upland “recovery” is not about improving public education, but rather closing schools, cutting staff and converting to charter schools.
Commentary on the appointment of Joe Watkins as Recovery Officer for Chester Upland School District
Keystone State Education Coalition by Lawrence Feinberg August 21, 2012
Opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent any organization that I may be affiliated with.
Betsy_DeVos’s astroturf group, American Federation for Children has contributed over $2.5 million to the Students First PA PAC over the past three years to fund the privatization of Pennsylvania’s public schools.  Mr. Watkins has served as Chairman of that PAC, which has received the bulk of it’s funding from main line options traders Joel Greenberg, Arthur Dantchik and Jeffrey Yass.  These four mega-millionaires are setting education policy in Pennsylvania and their agenda does not include democratically run public schools that are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.

Mr. Watkins resume does not show any experience whatsoever with public school finance, but then why would it?  The “recovery” is not about improving public education, but rather closing schools, cutting staff and converting to charter schools.  Here is a link to the American Federation for Children’s website announcing Mr. Watkins appointment.

In 2011, nearly 45 percent of Chester Upland’s students attended charter schools.  Academic performance at the charters is mixed; some of Chester Upland’s regular public schools perform better, some perform worse.  The Chester Community Charter, the state’s largest, is managed by a company owned by Vahan Gureghian, Governor Corbett’s largest individual campaign donor.  It is also on the short list of schools being investigated for alleged cheating on the state’s PSSA exams.

Middle-class American students who attend well-funded public schools rank at the top of the world on international tests.  After 20 years there is no clear evidence demonstrating that charters or vouchers are systematically more effective than traditional public schools in improving student performance for students in high-poverty schools.  What is clear is that charters can be extremely lucrative for owners and management companies.

Update February 28, 2012 

Chester Upland to make next payroll date

The Chester Upland School District has enough money to meet its payroll date scheduled for Wednesday, spokesman Joel Avery said Monday.

Chester's last hope hangs in the balance
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion By David Clark Posted: Wed, Feb. 22, 2012, 3:01 AM
David Clark is CEO of Chester Community Charter School.
In the coming weeks, Gov. Corbett and State Education Secretary Ronald J. Tomalis will make decisions that will determine the future of Chester. Following the secretary's court-ordered meetings with representatives of Chester Community Charter School, the Chester Upland School District, and others, the city's schools may get the funding they need to provide a constitutionally mandated education to more than 7,000 young people. Or commonwealth officials may deprive the schools of adequate resources or, worse still, close them down.

“There will be no public confidence in the district, however, until there is complete transparency about its finances. Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether there were improper expenditures. Appoint a financial manager who reports weekly all encumbrances and expenditures - publicly. Post all payments on a website, with cumulative totals against the budget. Operate transparently. Since neither the state nor district administrators can be trusted, it is time to let the public see the books.”
Many to blame in Chester school crisis; time to act
By A. Jean Arnold, J. Whyatt Mondesire and Michael Churchill
A. Jean Arnold is chair of the Chester NAACP Education Committee. J. Whyatt Mondesire is president of the NAACP State Conference. Michael Churchill is a lawyer with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
Posted: Sun, Feb. 19, 2012, 3:01 AM
The crisis facing the Chester Upland School District is what happens when politicians are more interested in getting their way than in solving a problem. The fault lies as much in Harrisburg as in Chester.

According to the calculators noted below, Chester Upland is slated to lose an additional $980,044 under the Governor's proposed 2012-2013 budget.  That would bring the total amount of budget cuts to Chester Upland since the Governor took office to $14,217,548.
HARRISBURG (Feb. 16, 2012) – To help Pennsylvanians understand how two years of Gov. Tom Corbett’s school funding cuts affect their local school districts, the state’s largest school employee union is providing a School Funding Cuts Calculator, now available on two websites.
PSEA President Michael J. Crossey said the calculator, which shows how much state funding for local schools has dropped since Gov. Corbett took office, is available at and
“Pennsylvanians need to understand the harm Gov. Corbett’s massive budget cuts have inflicted on students across the Commonwealth,” Crossey said. “When you see these cuts in black and white, you understand that our students can’t afford another year of devastating cuts.”

Not happy with that $14 million cut in funding for Chester Upland?  Let your legislators know.... 
Education Voters PA – Take action on the Governor’s Budget
The Governor’s proposal starts the process, but it isn’t all decided: our legislators can play an important role in standing up for our priorities.  Last year, public outcry helped prevent nearly $300 million in additional cuts.  We heard from the Governor, and we know where he stands.  Now, we need to ask our legislators: what is your position on supporting our schools?

Success amid crisis in Chester
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion By James T. Harris III, Posted: Thu, Feb. 16, 2012, 3:01 AM
James T. Harris III is the president of Widener University.
The Chester Upland School District's budget crisis has been national news, partly because of underlying fears that a similar fate could befall other districts struggling with reduced local tax revenues and eviscerated state budgets. While the focus on what went wrong in the district is understandable, we shouldn't overlook what's working in Chester.

Spencer: Chester Upland frog is on life support
Published: Friday, February 17, 2012
Delco Times Opinion By GIL SPENCER
As for the state, Persing says, “I really believe their plan is to ‘charterize’ the school district.” And he simply doesn’t believe an all-charter school district will do a better job of educating kids than a reasonably funded, old-fashioned, public school district.

Action United Facebook
Chester plans to continue building a core group of parents who are committed to making the State answer one simple question: What about next year?

Settlement talks ongoing for Chester schools
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,, @DT_JohnKopp
The attorney representing state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis said Friday the Department of Education is in the process of receiving and analyzing financial information requested at Thursday’s settlement conference.

Chester officials ask Pa. for $13.2M to keep schools open
By Dan Hardy, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER, Posted: Thu, Feb. 9, 2012, 6:56 PM
Officials from the Chester Upland School District and the Chester Community Charter School asked Education Secretary Ron Tomalis for $13.2 million Thursday to keep their schools open, pledging to make spending cuts in return.

Ohanian on Gureghian
I try to provide a larger context for what's happening in Chester Upland--from the rock where William Penn landed, to billboard deals, to an entrepreneur's mega-mansions

Chester Upland: State special ed formula drains millions from district
By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer, Posted: Mon, Feb. 6, 2012, 6:57 AM
As Delaware County's financially troubled Chester Upland School District struggles to stay afloat, officials there say they are paying millions more than they should on special-education students who attend charter schools.

“Persing said the state currently provides Chester Upland with about $3,600 per special education student, but only provides such subsidies for up to 16 percent of the district’s enrollment.  However, the state forces Chester Upland to pay charters about $24,000 for each special education student that enrolls, Persing said. There is no cap. “
Delaware County school districts facing familiar money woes, anxiously await Corbett budget
Published: Sunday, February 05, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,
Joe Otto lets people argue otherwise, but the William Penn School District chief operating officer insists school administrators across Pennsylvania were “blindsided” by the massive education cuts implemented by Gov. Tom Corbett last year.

NY Times: Pennsylvania Schools’ Financing Fight Pits District Against ‘Charter on Steroids’

Published: February 4, 2012
CHESTER, Pa. — The Chester Upland School District is more than $20 million in debt, its bank account is almost empty and it cannot afford to pay teachers past the end of this month.
At Columbus Elementary, teachers like John Shelton struggle with fewer resources and wonder how long they will be paid.
To make matters worse, the local charter school, with which the district must divide its financing, is suing the district over unpaid bills.

Chester Upland parents to Corbett: Keep schools open
State House News Online February 2, 2012
2,400 sign petition asking governor to fund school
By Stacy Brown | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — A small group of Chester Upland School District parents came to the Capitol on Thursday to deliver a big message to Gov. Tom Corbett.
“We want to tell Corbett to keep our schools open,” said Danyel Jennings, who not only has two children in the fiscally distressed district but was herself educated there.

Pa. education secretary to hear concerns of Chester Upland officials, parents, students
By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Feb. 3, 2012, 3:01 AM
At the urging of a federal judge, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis will meet with Chester Upland School District stakeholders to determine how to keep the schools open until June.

Posted at 05:11 PM ET, 02/02/2012

Ellen DeGeneres: Public education’s new funding stream

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Ellen DeGeneres just hosted on her television show a teacher from a Pennsylvania public school district that ran out of money — prompting unionized teachers to vote to work without pay — and handed her a $100,000 check for her school.
Twenty-two percent of American children live in poverty, and the emphasis of modern school reform ignores this fact. As long as this is the case, there aren’t enough $100,000 checks from famous people to go around.
Chester Upland teacher set for ‘Ellen’ appearance

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Delco Times By PAUL LUCE,

The Columbus Elementary School teacher who was a guest of the first lady for the State of the Union address will be a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

After being invited to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as Michelle Obama’s guest Jan. 24, Sara Ferguson was invited on to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” for an episode airing Thursday.

Wall Street Journal Marketwatch Jan. 31, 2012, 1:10 a.m. EST
Chester Community Charter School Response to Commonwealth Court Opinion From Dr. David Clark, CEO, CCCS January 30, 2012
CHESTER, Pa., Jan. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- We are, of course, disappointed by today's ruling by the Commonwealth Court. Although it does not reach the merits of the case, the Court's decision not to order immediate payment to Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) of approximately $7 million that is overdue, a deficit that will soon be $10 million on February 5 and over $13 million on March 5 without Court intervention, imperils CCCS and its students.

District bankruptcies: Who's responsible?
The notebook Jan 31 2012 Posted in Community voices
This guest blog post comes from Cathy Weiss of the Stoneleigh Foundation.
When Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his school reform plan last fall, he said this: "When we have failing schools, we know we have failing students.”
Except, as the case study of the Chester Upland School District shows, it’s not the kids who are failing. It is we as a commonwealth who are failing them.

Struggling Penn. District Tries to Hold Off Insolvency
Education Week By Christina Samuels on January 30, 2012 5:13 PM
The Chester, Pa. Community Charter School and the Chester-Upland School District are partnering to come up with a way for the district to stay solvent through the end of the school year.
The funding would come from new money and a shift in previously allocated money, Thomas Persing, Chester-Upland's acting assistant superintendent, told me today. All told, it would bring about $28.5 million to the district.
Chester-Upland has laid off its top leaders, so Persing, a former superintendent who has made a second career out of being a turnaround specialist for troubled Pennsylvania school districts, is running Chester-Upland at the cost of $800 a day. Without more funds, the district will run out of money by Wednesday, he said.

Chester Community Charter injunction denied

Published: Monday, January 30, 2012

Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied Chester Community Charter School its request for a preliminary injunction Monday in its lawsuit against the Chester Upland School District and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The denied injunction requested PDE immediately pay CCCS $6.881 million, forbid Chester Upland from spending charter payments due to CCCS for January and order the district to hold at least $3.018 million in an escrow fund to be paid to CCCS on Feb. 5.


Chester officials: We found funding

Philadelphia Tribune Written by  Damon C. Williams Monday, 30 January 2012 18:46

Marching on the state capitol — as two busloads of concerned parents of children in the Chester Upland School District and Chester Community Charter School did last week to deliver signed petitions to the governor’s office — will only go so far.

Now, officials from both school districts have taken things a step further, saying they have discovered several million in state funds that could theoretically be used to fund both districts in the near term.

Chester Upland School District Fast Facts from the Democratic Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, January 19, 2012
The Education Policy and Leadership Center reports that on January 24, the same day the Senate Education Committee held its hearing on fiscally distressed school districts, Democratic leaders in the House held a press conference and released this analysis of the financial condition of the Chester Upland School District.

Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus calls for help for Chester Upland schools
HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 State Rep. Ronald G. Waters, D-Phila./Delaware, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and other members of the PLBC at a Capitol news conference on Tuesday called on the governor to release funds to keep Chester Upland School District in operation through the remainder of the school year.

Senator Backs Emergency Funding for PA’s Chester Upland
Education Monday January 30, 2012
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is under increasing pressure to inject emergency money into the failing Chester Upland School District.
As Republican state senator Jeffrey Piccola admits that there may not be any other choice than to give the Chester Uplands School District more money if it’s to survive, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett finds himself backed into an even tighter corner.
The way Corbett and his administration has dealt with the Chester Uplands financial troubles has come under fire from a key state senator from his own party, reports Tony Romeo at CBS Local.

Posted: Sun, Jan. 29, 2012, 3:01 AM
Inquirer Editorial: Public schools facing crisis
His fans are calling Gov. Corbett courageous for ignoring impassioned pleas to drop his pledge not to raise taxes.  The governor would show more courage if he admitted the state's financial situation without new revenue is becoming untenable - especially when it comes to all the public schools across Pennsylvania in financial trouble.

Chester officials offer solution to school financial crisis
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Delco Times By The Times Staff
CHESTER — Officials from the Chester Community Charter School and Chester Upland School District have teamed up and offered a joint proposal to solve the ongoing funding crisis.

SPENCER: Not all public schools failing students
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Delco Times Opinion By GIL SPENCER,
“Most of our schools are doing an OK job,” he asserts. “U.S. schools that have less than a 25 percent poverty rate at doing pretty well internationally.” 

November 4, 2011
From Community Matters Blog Posted on January 28th, 2012   1:37 PM  by Pattye Benson
Finally, click here for a draft legislative proposal that several PA state legislators have recently made public.  Marked confidential, the draft proposal document is titled Chester Upland Fiscal Distress” and dated November 4, 2011.  Interesting to note that this draft proposal was written prior to CUSD’s request to the state for financial help.  The proposal calls for the state to take over school districts in financial distress (starting with Chester Upland) and run the school district with the use of an oversight board – a ‘Special Board of Control’.
This special board would have the legal authority to cancel teacher contracts, turn district schools into charter schools, reassign or suspend staff and to close schools. To be clear, this is only a draft proposal and no formal legislation has yet been introduced – however, this draft would suggest that the ‘handwriting is the wall’  for the introduction of this, or similar legislation.
Looks like Chester Upland School District could become the model for all distressed school districts across the state. It is probably a fair assumption that how the state decides to handle the financial crisis in CUSD will be duplicated in every other failing school district in Pennsylvania.

Chester Upland School District's financial crisis years in making
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP
CHESTER — State Rep. William Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, hosted a House Appropriations Committee Hearing on Friday at Widener University to examine the financial crisis at the Chester Upland School District.
The hearing included the testimony of district officials and Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis, among others.

Residents pack meeting with Sen. Pileggi to discuss Chester Upland
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP
State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, hosted a community meeting regarding the Chester Upland School District financial situation Friday morning.
Pileggi noted that Gov. Tom Corbett has verbally committed to ensuring the district remains open for the remainder of the year. The focus, going forward, he said is to find a long-term solution to ensure financial stability within the district.

Chester-Upland parents give lawmaker an earful
January 27, 2012
WHYY Newsworks By Elizabeth Fiedler
Dozens of frustrated and angry Chester Upland parents and education advocates gathered at the school administration building Friday morning.  Many of them were quick to give State Senator Dominic Pileggi a piece of their mind during the public forum he hosted to talk about the District's financial struggles.

My View: An education crisis that never should have happened
by Sara Ferguson, Special to CNN, January 27, 2012
Editor’s Note: Sara Ferguson is a 20 year employee of the Chester Upland School District where she currently teaches Literacy and Math. She is a third generation educator in Chester Upland. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Widener University, a Masters of Education in Elementary Education from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Cabrini College.
When I visited the White House for the first time, as a child, it was my teacher who brought me there. This week I returned, as a teacher and as a special guest of President Obama during his State of the Union Address. It was an honor to be in attendance, and I am grateful for the attention my struggling school district has received. However, if there’s one message I hope is heard across the country about the financial crisis in my school district, it is this: It’s a crisis that never should have happened.

Susan Ohanian’s Blog
Ohanian Comment: Here's the January 2012 news from the Chester Upland school district. One could say the situation in Upland-Chester is complicated, with intertwined opportunism, greed, earnestness, and naivete--and poverty--that could serve as the background for a novel with the scope of War and Peace.

Other Pa. school districts join Chester Upland on financial brink
January 25, 2012
WHYY Newsworks By Elizabeth Fiedler
It's already been a difficult and tense year for the teachers and students at the Chester Upland School District. Education advocates say the district's financial woes are a result of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's $860 million in public school funding cuts.
In this age of tight budgets, Chester Upland is not alone.

Blogger’s note: FYI, PA Independent is the house organ for Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation
Lawmakers grill education secretary
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012
By Stacy Brown, PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Outraged by the state's handling of Chester Upland School District's financial crisis, lawmakers came out swinging Tuesday against the Corbett administration, which they said wants to eliminate failing school districts and require students to attend area charter schools.
At the Senate Education Committee hearing, senators grilled state Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis during his two-hour appearance as the guest speaker.

Governor’s draft fiscal distress legislation: SRC-like boards could cancel teachers’ contracts and turn district schools into charters
Draft of a Corbett plan for Chester Upland district stirs a debate
By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Fri, Jan. 27, 2012, 3:01 AM
As Delaware County's Chester Upland School District descended into insolvency this winter, the Corbett administration was largely mute on its plans for a solution.
A draft legislative proposal from the governor's office made public earlier this month by several state legislators sheds more light on his views.
It calls for state takeovers of distressed districts, starting with Chester Upland and Duquesne City, that would put Philadelphia School Reform Commission-type oversight boards in place.
Those boards could cancel teachers' contracts and turn all district schools into charters.

Chester Community Charter School and Chester Upland School District Jointly Propose Plan to Avert Funding Crisis

CUSD and CCCS host press conference to present new information that may avert a continuing educational crisis in the City of Chester, PA

WHEN: Friday, January 27, 2012  9:00am - 10:00am
WHERE: Chester Community Charter School East Campus Gymnasium 
Chester, PA (PRWEB) January 27, 2012
Representatives of media outlets are invited to attend a news conference wherein officials of the Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) and Chester Upland School District will provide information on their joint proposal for identifying previously budgeted state funding that might avert a continuing educational crisis in the City of Chester, PA, that has impacted both educational entities and nearly 7,000 school children.

Senator Piccola’s Weekly Column January 26, 2012:
Pennsylvania's Distressed Schools in Need of Financial & Educational Reform
The critical issue of fiscally distressed school districts in Pennsylvania is unfortunately and rapidly escalating in its severity.  In addition to their financial struggles, these districts are facing significant educational challenges as well, causing a few – such as the Chester Upland School District – to be on the brink of collapse.  As a result, our Commonwealth must step in and exercise bold leadership to structurally reform these districts and provide students and their families more choices in achieving a quality education.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Following the money in Chester Upland

Live webcast tonight at 7:00 pm at
Phil Heron, Editor, Delco Daily Times
They held that much ballyhooed “summit” in Harrisburg yesterday to focus on the financial condition of the Chester Upland School District.  Not surprising is that everyone agrees the district is in fire fiscal straits. Even more surprising is that no one seems to know what exactly to do about it.  You can read our story here. And an editorial on what the future of Chester Upland might look like here.
Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, have pledged to keep the schools open.  That’s going to be easier said than done.  In the meantime, we will revisit the subject tonight with our live-stream Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom.”
Joining us will be Chester Upland Assistant Superintendent Thomas Persing here in the office. And on the phone from Harrisburg we’ll have state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester.  Should be interesting. Tune in at 7 at
If you have a question you'd like answer concerning Chester Upland, email it to me at You also can log in to tonight during the show and take part in a live chat on Chester Upland

Legislators vow to save Chester schools
By Dan Hardy, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER, Posted: Mon, Jan. 23, 2012, 11:37 PM
After meeting privately with Gov. Corbett and Education Secretary Ron Tomalis on Monday, a bipartisan group of legislators said that they would jointly find a way to keep Chester Upland's students in the classroom while exploring long-term solutions to the district's financial plight.
"This includes, if necessary, a supplemental legislative appropriation," State Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat, said in a statement after the meeting in Harrisburg.
But Tim Eller, the spokesman for the Education Department, said: "There was no commitment on funding."

Pa. teacher to sit in First Lady's box during State of the Union
By Colby Itkowitz
Morning Call Washington Bureau
8:05 p.m. EST, January 23, 2012
A Delaware County elementary school teacher who said this month that she'd continue working without pay in the face of budget cuts has been invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday night's State of the Union.
Sara Ferguson, a teacher at Columbus Elementary in the Chester Upland School District for more than 20 years, was featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Jan. 5 after her teacher's union passed a resolution that teachers would stay on after the district said it could no longer pay its staff.

Chester Upland Teachers, support staff thank legislators for working to secure funding to keep district schools open

PSEA Press Release (CHESTER, Pa., Jan. 23, 2012) – Leaders of the school employee unions representing teachers and support staff in the Chester Upland School District today thanked state legislators who worked to secure an agreement with Gov. Tom Corbett to avert the district’s looming financial crisis.
Gloria Zoranski, president of the Chester Upland Education Association, and Jacqueline Browne, president of the Chester Upland Educational Support Personnel Association, cited efforts by state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, state Reps. William Adolph and Thaddeus Kirkland and others in reaching the agreement with the Corbett Administration, following a meeting with the governor today in Harrisburg.

Leach: Bipartisan Meeting Addresses Chester-Upland Crisis
Press Release
HARRISBURG, January 23, 2011 — Senator Daylin Leach, (D-Delaware/Montgomery) announced this morning that a bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators met with Governor Corbett and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis to address the potential closure of the schools in the Chester-Upland School District. Gov. Corbett arranged the meeting after receiving a request to meet in a letter written by Leach and signed by nine Delaware County lawmakers
.....Along with members of the administration, those attending the meeting included Sens. Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester/Delaware), Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/Montgomery) and Ted Erickson (R-Delaware/Chester), as well as Reps. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Tom Killion (R-Delaware/Chester), Joe Hackett (R-Delaware), Margo Davidson (D-Delaware), Thaddeus Kirkland (D-Delaware), Maria Donatucci (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), and Stephen Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware).

Leach 'impressed' with Corbett at meeting on Chester Upland
January 23, 2012
WHYY Newsworks By Shannon McDonald
Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Delaware/Montgomery, says he's "impressed" with the response from Gov. Tom Corbett at today's meeting about the Chester Upland School District.
The pair met with Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis and more than 10 Delaware County-based lawmakers to discuss the future of the school in such dire straits it can't make payroll without financial intervention.

Gov. Corbett, Delco pols huddle to discuss Chester Upland

Gov. Tom Corbett and local members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly met today in Harrisburg to discuss the financial crisis facing the Chester Upland School District.
The bipartisan meeting was held in Corbett’s Capitol office and included many county lawmakers and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis.

Is there a solution for Chester Upland's problems?
By Dan Hardy and John P. Martin, Inquirer Staff Writers, Posted: Mon, Jan. 23, 2012, 3:01 AM
Sara Ferguson grew up in Chester, and, like her mother, aunt, and grandfather, chose to be a teacher there. For 21 years, she has taught at Columbus Elementary School, and often it seems each year is worse than the last.  Program cuts, staff furloughs, and claims of mismanagement are routine for the Chester Upland School District. Nearly half its 6,625 students have flocked to charter schools, many during the time the state ran the district. No superintendent lasts more than a few years; no turnaround plan ever takes root.
….Corbett has made the funding and management of public schools a signature issue, and he has pushed legislation to establish state-appointed control boards with power to cancel teacher contracts, convert schools into charters, and send students to other districts. The governor also will not rule out closing Chester Upland.

Corbett, Pileggi will meet with Delco pols on Chester Upland; vow to keep schools open
Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,
CHESTER — Gov. Tom Corbett and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester announced Friday that they will meet with county lawmakers Monday to develop a long-term solution regarding the future of the Chester Upland School District.
The joint announcement came with an assurance that school will remain open for the remainder of the year.

State Rep. Kirkland: Students belong in Chester
Published: Friday, January 20, 2012
Delco Times By LORETTA RODGERS, Times Correspondent
CHESTER — More than 150 concerned residents attended a public meeting Friday night hosted by state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland D-159, of Chester, to discuss the ongoing Chester Upland School District (CUSD) financial crisis.

Governor Corbett, Senate Majority Leader Pileggi Address Fiscal Situation in Chester Upland School District
Published: Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 - 2:14 pm
 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi today issued the following joint statement regarding the ongoing fiscal crisis in Chester Upland School District:
"As we develop a comprehensive solution to address the dire financial situation in Chester Upland School District, our focus is first and foremost on the children attending school in the district.
"We understand the stress that this situation is putting on them and their families, and we want to assure them that they will be able to finish the school year at Chester Upland.

Education secretary says Chester-Upland school district victim of poor management

District has received $31 million in taxpayer aid above-and-beyond state subsidies
By Stacy Brown | PA Independent January 20, 2012
HARRISBURG —  Mildly put, the Chester Upland School District is in crisis.
State Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis and Gov. Tom Corbett said the school board in charge of running the district has badly mismanaged it.

This Week in Reality Blog by Jodine Mayberry
Cui bono? The campaign contributors, of course
Boy oh boy, what a reality show this Chester School District bankruptcy thing is!
So here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know:  Vahan H. Gureghian, the owner of the Chester Community Charter School gave Tom Cortbett $325,714 in 2009 and 2010 in his run-up to the governor’s mansion, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics,
And here’s something else I’ll bet you didn’t know:  The state requires that the Chester Upland School District pay each of the charter schools within the district $9,858 per pupil and an additional $14,670 over and above that, a total of $24,528, for each special education student each year, according to CU’s complaint filed in federal court.  The charter schools claim to have 670 special education students out of their total population of 3,000.
This is a bit of a long explanation, so stay with me here.  So that’s 670 students times $24,528 equals $16.4 million, just for the 20 percent of the charter school population that is designated special education. 
CU has almost exactly the same percentage of special-ed students, 740 out of a school population of 3,700, also about 20 percent  of the overall population.  The state only gives CU a total of about $14,000 for each of its special-ed kids, $10,000 less than it requires CU to give to the charter schools.

PA Senate Education Committee to hold a public hearing on fiscally distressed school districts
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:00 AM
Hearing Room 1 North Office Bldg.

Residents commend effort by Chester Upland School Board
Published: Friday, January 20, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,
CHESTER — More than 100 residents filed into Chester High School Thursday night to praise the Chester Upland School Board for standing up to the state in court and demanding an education for the district’s children.
They also came loaded with questions about the district’s long-term future.

“This community had endured 12 superintendents in 13 years and at least five boards controlled by the state - that's right, the state.  The state, declaring them "financially distressed," took over the schools from 1993 to 2010. The district answered to a board of control (later an empowerment board) appointed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”
Annette John-Hall: Corbett's blame game with Chester Upland School District is hurting the students
Annette John-Hall, Inquirer Columnist, Posted: Fri, Jan. 20, 2012, 3:01 AM
This was the week that teachers in the bankrupt Chester Upland School District were supposed to go without their paychecks.  But thanks to some eleventh-hour legal strong-arming, they'll be getting paid.  Forget for a moment that the tax-strapped district depends on the state for 80 percent of its funding. This community had endured 12 superintendents in 13 years and at least five boards controlled by the state - that's right, the state.  The state, declaring them "financially distressed," took over the schools from 1993 to 2010. The district answered to a board of control (later an empowerment board) appointed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 01/20/2012

Chester Upland teacher: Who is going to help our schools?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
There have been some new developments in the sad tale of the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvalnia, but its future still remains uncertain.

Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis comments on Chester-Upland SD financial struggles

YouTube 1:48 - Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis - January 19, 2012

Delco Times Heron’s Nest Blog  Editorial Thursday, January 19, 2012

Clock still ticking in Chester Upland

The money should be arriving at Chester Upland today. The staff will receive their paychecks. Some vendors will be paid.
But make no mistake. The clock is still ticking on the Chester Upland financial timebomb. It’s just been reset. The $3.2 million a judge ordered released to the district will get them through the end of the month, or maybe a week or two into February. Then what?
Good question.

“That is why I will not vote for even limited vouchers or any other types of vouchers when SB 1 or any other voucher legislation is returned from the House to the Senate.  While I might have been fooled once I will not be fooled again after reviewing what I believe to be the true implications of the Corbett Administration’s approach to the Chester-Upland and Duquesne City School Districts and by implication all the other poor and fiscally distressed districts.”

Implications of the Corbett Administration’s Actions in the Chester Upland School District

Press Release WEST CHESTER (January 18) – Senator Dinniman issued the following statement on financial crisis in the Chester Upland School District:
“After months of asking the Department of Education and the Corbett Administration for their plan to address the precarious financial situation facing many of our Commonwealth’s school districts, I was surprised and taken aback by the recent actions of the Department in relation to the Chester-Upland School District.

Crisis In Chester Upland: Putting Private Profits Above Student Success

Posted: 1/19/12 03:16 PM ET
Huffington Post by Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association
Over the past week, an almost unthinkable series of events unfolded in the Chester Upland School District near Philadelphia.

Dear Ed Schultz
Huffington Post by Timothy D. Slekar, Associate professor of teacher education
Posted: 1/19/12 10:57 AM ET
Dear Ed,
Thanks for exposing the problems being confronted by the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. As you have pointed out, this is really an issue that goes much deeper than a school in financial trouble. This is a school that serves the "least among us." The schools in the district have inadequate resources and inadequate facilities. As Jonathan Kozol pointed out over 20 years ago this is a "savage inequality."

Senator Pileggi to Host Open Forum for Parents in the Chester Upland School District
State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester announced that he will host a public forum for parents in the Chester Upland School District to provide an update on the district’s financial crisis and answer questions from concerned residents.
Pileggi, the Senate majority leader, will hold the meeting Jan. 27 from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the Chester Upland administration building.
“I have heard from many parents who have deep concerns about the situation in Chester Upland and how it is impacting their children,” Pileggi said in a statement. “I share those concerns. This is an unprecedented situation, and I am hosting this forum so that I can hear directly from as many people as possible.”

Pileggi is the latest Delco legislator to schedule a community forum.
State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester, has a meeting slated for 6 p.m. Thursday night at the Chester Fine Arts Center.
State. Rep. William Adolph, R-165, of Springfield will hold a House Appropriations Committee hearing Jan. 27 at Widener University at 10 a.m.


Senator Pileggi to Host Open Forum for Parents in the Chester Upland School District 

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) announced today that he will host an open forum for parents in the Chester Upland School District on Friday, January 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The event will take place in the Chester Upland School District’s administration building. 
At the forum, Senator Pileggi will provide an update regarding the district’s financial crisis and answer questions from concerned parents. 
"I have heard from many parents who have deep concerns about the situation in Chester Upland and how it is impacting their children," Senator Pileggi said. "I share those concerns. This is an unprecedented situation, and I am hosting this forum so that I can hear directly from as many people as possible." 

Chester Upland teachers Sara Ferguson and George Walker on MSNBC's @EdShow January 17, 2012
Video runtime 4:52

Short-term deal between Chester Upland, state ensures teachers pay for few more weeks
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Delco Times By John Kopp,
A deal has been reached between the Chester Upland School District and the state to pay $3.2 million to the school district, according to court documents.

FOX 29: State Senator Daylin Leach Video on Chester Upland schools crisis:

Bankrupt Chester Upland to get $3.2 million from state
By Dan Hardy, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Posted: Tue, Jan. 17, 2012, 10:32 AM
Under a tentative agreement to be finalized today, the state has agreed to keep the bankrupt Chester Upland school district afloat for another few weeks through an infusion of $3.2 million.
That would be enough to pay teachers for now; the biweekly payroll for the district is about $1 million.

Gov. Corbett's message to Chester Upland comes through loud and clear
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 5:13 AM
Patriot-News Op-Ed By Sen. Andy Dinniman
The Corbett administration should be ashamed of its recent actions toward the Chester Upland School District. To refuse to advance funds and to force the closure of Pennsylvania’s most impoverished school district in the middle of the school year is simply wrong. 

Tentative agreement to get $3.2M to Chester Upland schools

Chester residents ready to press fight for schools
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Delco Times By JOHN KOPP,
CHESTER — Dozens of Chester residents gathered Monday afternoon at Chester Eastside Ministries to discuss ways they can pressure Gov. Tom Corbett to ensure the Chester Upland School District will remain open.
The residents agreed to demonstrate outside of the Chester Upland administration building and the federal court building in Philadelphia at 7 a.m. today. The latter is where a suit the district filed against the state will play out.
The school board has filed a federal lawsuit against the state calling for the funding necessary to complete the school year.
The two sides continued out-of-court negotiations Monday, but had not reached a resolution by press time.  If the sides are unable to reach a settlement, they are due in court at noon today.

Education Law Center
Talk to a lawyer about education issues in Chester-Upland
Individual parents and students can speak free of charge, confidentially, and one-on-one with a lawyer about legal problems with local schools – PreK to 12th grade.  CALL 888-434-1211 (TOLL-FREE) TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT.  *Tuesday, January 17, 12 noon to 7 p.m.
*Wednesday, February 15, 12 noon to 7 p.m.  *Wednesday, March 14, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m

Roxbury News January 16, 2011
Video: Governor Corbett_”Will be meeting tomorrow with Senator Pileggi”
Governor Corbett will meet with Senator Pileggi Tuesday to discuss the potential shut down of Chester-Upland school district.
Click on Governor’s picture to run the video:

Monday, January 16, 2012Last Update: 9:32 AM PT
Spending Showdown Threatens School District
Courthouse News Service By REUBEN KRAMER
     PHILADELPHIA (CN) - In an escalating spending standoff that threatens to shut a suburban school district, a federal judge on Friday told the district to give the state a list of people who absolutely must be paid to avoid an immediate shutdown.

Negotiations ongoing between Chester Upland School District and state
CHESTERChester Upland School District officials continued to negotiate with their counterparts from the state Saturday in an effort to reach a solution to the district’s financial crisis, district spokesman Joel Avery said.
Avery said negotiations began as early as 9 a.m. Saturday and continued beyond 5 p.m.

Long-struggling schools in Chester, Pa., running out of money, may not be able to make payroll
The Republic (Columbus, Indiana) by PATRICK WALTERS  Associated Press
First Posted: January 15, 2012 - 11:44 am
CHESTER, Pa. — Nearly two decades after being declared financially distressed, the school system in this struggling Philadelphia suburb faces a new and even more daunting crisis: It may run out of cash.

Chester Upland School District, state officials will continue to talk
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012
Chester Upland School District and state officials failed to reach a settlement to the district’s financial crisis during their conference call Friday, Chester Upland Solicitor Leo Hackett said.
At the request of Judge Michael Baylson, talks will continue throughout the holiday weekend in an effort to reach an agreement and avoid a court date, Hackett said.
The Chester Upland School Board filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the state, Pennsylvania Department of Education and several state officials, calling on the state to provide the $20.7 million the district needs to ensure it will remain open throughout the school year.
If a resolution is not reached by Tuesday morning, Hackett said, Baylson will hold a hearing on the district’s lawsuit at noon.

Delaware County Lawmakers Call On Corbett To Intervene In Chester-Upland.
Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek, Allentown Morning Call, January 13, 2011
Here's The Text Of A Letter that Delaware County area lawmakers sent to Gov. Tom Corbett this afternoon asking for the administration to intervene in the growing crisis in the Chester-Upland schools.
Here’s the letter on SCRIBD:

Delco officials press for Pa. takeover of Chester Upland
By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Sat, Jan. 14, 2012, 3:01 AM
A bipartisan group of Delaware County legislators including Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi asked Gov. Corbett on Friday to declare the Chester Upland School District financially distressed, which would trigger a state takeover.

Lawmakers ask Corbett for emergency meeting on Chester-Upland crisis
Philadelphia Inquirer Commonwealth Confidential Blog by Amy Worden
Lawmakers left their parties on the sidelines to send a message to Gov. Corbett that they want the Chester-Upland school funding crisis fixed.  Now.
Nine lawmakers in all from Delaware County, from Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (once the Chester mayor) to freshman Rep. Joseph Hackett signed a joint letter asking Corbett for an emergency meeting on Tuesday.  Other Republicans include Sen. Ted Erickson, Reps. Stephen Barrar, Bill Adolph, Tom Killion. Democrats are Sen. Daylin Leach and Reps. Greg Vitali and Maria Donatucci. Notably absent was Democratic Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland whose district includes the city of Chester.
We can't recall ever seeing a letter of such import - to a governor no less - that contained such a mix of bipartisan signatories.

Penniless school district sues state
Chester Upland didn't manage its money, governor says
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Saturday, January 14, 2012
By Dan Hardy, Philadelphia Inquirer
Gov. Tom Corbett blamed local officials Thursday for the Chester Upland School District's financial woes and suggested the state was considering a takeover of the district.
He made his remarks on a Philadelphia talk-radio show on the same day the Chester Upland school board and some parents in the 3,700-student Delaware County district filed a federal lawsuit, demanding that the state finance the district Read more:

“…where does it leave Chester’s nationally ranked boys basketball program, the lifeblood of a community in dire need of something to latch on to?”

Will Clippers be a casualty of Chester Upland education crisis? Jan. 13, 2012, 6:15 a.m. EST
Delaware County Daily Times
CHESTER — The crowd for Thursday night’s boys basketball game at Chester High School was sparse, perhaps moreso than usual. The gym was quiet, with fewer than 200 occupying the grandstands.  Maybe it was more important that the voices of those 200 at the Chester Upland School District’s administrative offices were heard rather than those at the Clip Joint.

Spencer: Chester Upland’s failures continue
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012
Delco Times Opinion by By GIL SPENCER
There is a time for all good things to come to an end. Bad things, too. And that sums up the Chester Upland School District.  The district is broke. It can’t even pay its teachers. It owes more than $80 million.
District officials have gone begging to Harrisburg. They have asked for a lousy $18 million just so they can pay their teachers until the end of the year and our heartless Republican governor tells them to drop dead.  Good. He should.

Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 01/13/2012

Another ailing school district may be forced to close

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
A Michigan newspaper reports that a cash infusion of $188,000 from the state is the only reason that the Highland Park School District can meet its payroll today.
The Detroit Free Press also reported that in addition to providing the money, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said he was appointing an emergency manager to oversee the long-troubled district in Highland Park, where Ford Motor Co.’s flagship factory once operated.
This news follows the pathetic story of Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania, which is staying open because unionized teachers and staff have agreed to work for free.
Pennsylvania officials have refused to help the district, where several thousand students still attend the public schools in Chester Upland even though they don’t know if they will actually be able to finish the school year.

January 13, 2012
Tomalis To Lawmaker: "Your Criticisms Are Misplaced. Your Facts Are Simply Wrong."
Allentown Morning Call Capitol Ideas Blog by John Micek
If You're Not Already Familiar ...... with the rapidly decaying financial situation in the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County, you soon will be…… you'll find a pair of letters from Tomalis to two state senators (Piccola and Dinniman) that shed some light on the Corbett administration's management of the crisis so far. In the absence of any public pronouncements by the administration on how it intends to resolve the situation, they're instructive.

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