Its financial recovery plan rejected by the state, Chester Uplands School District now faces the grim reality that it cannot meet its payroll. The cause is simple-- obscenely profitable charter schools are bleeding the public system dry.
And (fun fact) the three charters in question-- Chester Community Charter School, Widener Partnership Charter School, and the Chester Charter School for the Arts-- none of the three enroll high school students (though CCSA is "growing" a high school program year by year).
The Chester Uplands District, long financially strapped, already has a state receiver (it was the state that proposed the financial rescue plan that the court rejected). There aren't many options left, and so the teachers have taken the ultimate hit for the team-- they have agreed to work without pay. Otherwise the public school system will not open. The district has been pushed to the wall before (here's news from 2012 that seems familiar).
That's over 300 employees. Teachers and support staff met Thursday and after hearing from the state-appointed receiver about just how dire things are, resolved that they “will work as long as they are individually able, even with delayed
compensation, and even with the failure of the school district to meet
its payroll obligations, in order to continue to serve the students who
learn in the Chester Upland School District.”
The financial problems are further complicated by the lack of a state budget. Now over fifty days behind, the legislature in Harrisburg has failed to get their budgetary house in order, an almost-yearly ritual in Pennsylvania that results in all manner of state-funded enterprises, departments, and employees being strapped for cash as they move into the fall. Many school districts are, at this moment, dipping into reserves or taking out loans while waiting for our elected officials to decide how much money schools will get (though, of course, school budgets were due to the state a while ago) and then sending it to them. Thanks a lot, elected officials. (And that's before we get to their negative state subsidy situation.)
Some districts can weather the budget storm. CUSD, sucked dry of money by charter schools, cannot. So while the state's elected officials cannot get their jobs done for pay, Chester Upland teachers and staff will get their jobs done for free. Tell me again about how teachers and their unions are the big obstacle to education in this country.