These days a lot of school budgets are being held together by the accounting equivalents of bailing wire and duct tape. But one Pennsylvania school district is so broke that it needs the state to provide the wire and the tape.
The Chester Upland School District began this week with only $100,000 in its savings account, and had no way of meeting its $1 million payroll – that is, until a judge ordered the state to give the district a $3.2 million advance in its allowance, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The money will allow the teachers to be paid and the lights to remain on, at least for a few more weeks. The district is on track to be $20 million in debt by the end of the school year.
“Anxious parents are looking at other options for their children, such as sending them to private schools or having them live with relatives and go to other public schools,” the Daily Journal reported two days before the bailout was announced.
What’s causing Chester Upland’s financial meltdown?
According to school officials, the state has been illegally giving some of the district’s money to charter schools. State officials say the law requires it to fund the schools where students actually attend, and many choose to attend charter schools. A judge is expected to settle the dispute next month.
While the district might win its case in court, it seems destined to lose in the court of public opinion.
Since 2006, Chester Upland’s enrollment has dropped by almost 1,000 students. During that same time, the district has increased its workforce by 145 employees, and its budget by $28 million, reports the PhillyBurbs.com.
Members of the local teachers union have pledged to keep working “as long as they are individually able … even if they are not paid.”
While that makes for a nice press release, it appears that none the district’s three school employee unions have agreed to open their contracts and offer any concessions to help the district survive.
Just another financial crisis, courtesy of Big Labor.