State Declares Chester Upland Financially Distressed

The Chester Upland School District has been declared financially distressed by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis, a step leading to increased state oversight, possible sweeping changes to operations, and the loss of power by the elected school board.

In a sharply critical declaration signed Tuesday and made public Wednesday, Tomalis wrote that the struggling 3,400-student Delaware County district has “alarming deficiencies in [its] financial management and operations.”

The district, which almost closed its school doors in January after running out of money, “is plagued by serious, systemic, and aggregating financial problems,” he added, and the school board “lacks a concrete plan” to handle them.

School board and administration officials have disputed Tomalis’ statements, saying they are acting responsibly and many shortcomings are being addressed.

The distress designation was made possible by legislation enacted in June that gives the state new powers to oversee financially troubled districts. Four school systems – Chester Upland, Harrisburg, York City, and Duquesne – are the first to go under state oversight.

Click here to read the full article by Dan Hardy published in the Philadelphia Inquirer (August 16, 2012)

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