None of the York City School District's seven buildings will be converted to charter schools for the 2014-15 academic year.

As recently as February, the district's state-appointed chief recovery officer said publicly that some or all of York City's schools could be handed over to outside providers as early as this fall.

But on Wednesday, David Meckley said he is confident the charter option is off the table for York City when school resumes later this year.

That's because there's just not enough time for the district to find qualified providers, choose among them and allow for adequate preparation time before September, Meckley said.

However, the district's future could still be charter schools, Meckley said.

And that possibility becomes increasingly likely for the 2015-16 academic year the longer the teachers' union and the district's administration disagree over a new collective-bargaining agreement, he said.

"The longer we go without an agreement ... we're leaning in the direction of a charter," Meckley said.

That's because the recovery plan — which aims to return the district to financial solvency through improved academic achievement and security — depends on significant wage and benefits concessions from the district's labor force, which accounts for about 46 percent of its budget.

This year, the district has been implementing what's come to be known as the internal transformation model, the strategy behind the recovery plan. Charter conversions are the alternative if the transformation model does not work.


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Negotiations with teachers over a new contract have continued since last year.

Budget: For the 2014-15 school year, the absence of a contract will have an immediate impact, Meckley said.

The district's school board is required by state law to pass a balanced budget by June 30.

Superintendent Eric Holmes presented an outline of a proposed budget at Monday's board meeting and again at Wednesday's meeting of the Community Education Council.

Looking at projected revenue and expenses for next year, the district faces a $4.9 million deficit.

There's not enough money to close the gap through cuts to programs, Meckley said.

"If we don't have a contract, we're actually going to cut teachers," Meckley said. "There's nowhere else to cut. Everything has been stripped out of this district. We're down to not many choices."

On the flip side, if teachers agree to a contract reflective of the recovery plan's wage concessions, the district could balance its budget and add as many as 35 teachers to the payroll, according to Holmes' presentation.

Additional teachers would mean more classrooms, allowing the district to reduce its class sizes, Holmes said.

New Hope: The district could see some additional revenue from the return of New Hope Academy Charter School students next year. But, he said, it's too early to project how many of those students — and, therefore, how much money — will return to district schools next year.

On Tuesday, Commonwealth Court affirmed a state Charter School Appeal Board decision that upheld the school district's decision not to renew New Hope's charter.

That means New Hope will close after the academic year ends on June 10 unless an appeal to the state Supreme Court is successful.

Meckley said it's up to the district's school board to pursue proposals from charter providers. He said the board could do that any time, but he expects no decisions before June.

If the board goes that route, the district could sign an agreement for the 2015-16 school year with a charter provider as early as October, Meckley said.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.