Senator Backs Emergency Funding for PA’s Chester Upland

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.

Dozens of parents with students at Chester Community Charter School, led by school CEO David Clark, have been protesting at the delay in state funding. And the district’s troubles are now front and center in the state capitol.

Hoping to avoid a shutdown, the Chester Upland School District filed a lawsuit that declared a “cash-flow crisis” whereby they won’t be able to make payroll unless the state advances the district $18.7 million in expected funding.

Administrators in the Chester Upland School District asked a judge to tell state Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis that he must act to provide students in the district with a “thorough and efficient educational system.”

Thom Persing, acting deputy superintendent, said:

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the district running.”

The school board is adamant that their budget problems were inherited after years of state control. However, the state says the board brought back several dozen staff members in 2011 without any plan in place to cover the $6 million cost.

Clark said:

“Such a condition, if continued, threatens the continued existence of Chester Community Charter School.”

And now the pressure on Corbett to act is increasing, as Sen. Piccola, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, criticized the Corbett’s handling of the situation.

“I don’t see any alternative than for the Commonwealth to come up with a chunk of money to get this particular school district out of the jam that it’s in,” he said.

Piccola believes there may well be no choice but to give more money to schools that are heading for financial distress, writes Romeo.