The York City school district is trying to balance a budget that could include cutting 15 staff positions while also continuing to explore converting the district into charter schools.
Working on the district's internal plan and exploring options with converting to charter schools are equal priorities right now, said David Meckley, the district's state-appointed chief recovery officer, at the district's Community Education Council meeting Wednesday.
As part of the district's recovery plan, union and administration leaders proposed an internal-transformation model, which emphasizes site-based management as a way of achieving performance goals.
Charter conversions are the alternative if the transformation model does not achieve its performance goals or if the district is not able to achieve its financial goals.
Both of those processes were laid out in the initial recovery plan and haven't changed since that plan was approved in April 2013 by the school board, the teachers' association, the support staff association and the state Department of Education, Meckley said.
Charter conversion: But if the school board approves a resolution allowing Superintendent Eric Holmes to seek charter options for the district at its meeting June 25, Meckley said the focus could shift to a charter conversion as early as the fall.
That shift will not happen until after the district goes through a bidding process to find an outside provider that would convert district schools into charter schools, Meckley said.
The district has been in "productive dialogue" with four outside providers about how to draft the bidding documents for that process, Meckley said. Those conversations happened with providers that have experience with converting schools in urban settings with the demographics of students similar to those attending the York City district schools, Meckley said.
The slate will be wiped clean for the bidding process, Meckley said, so those providers won't have an advantage in the bidding process.
And if the resolution to move forward with charter conversion is passed in late June, the bidding documents will be sent out as soon as possible, likely in early July, Meckley said.
That process could include converting one school, some schools or the entire district to charter schools, Meckley said.
Balancing the budget: While the district is moving forward with the charter school conversion process, it also must pass a budget at the June 25 meeting.
Meckley emphasized Wednesday the internal recovery plan was agreed upon with the understanding of teacher contract concessions. Without those concessions, the district is facing a large deficit.
The agreement the teachers' union struck down last week included fewer teacher concessions than were dictated by the recovery plan, Meckley said.
"That was an attempt to reach a compromise," Meckley said.
Holmes said Wednesday he could not comment on the ongoing negotiations.
Staff cuts: With no contract concessions, the school board will likely need to find another way to balance the budget for the 2014-15 school year, which includes a $4.9 million gap.
At the school board meeting Monday, Holmes presented several options for balancing the budget.
He recommended cutting six coordinators, who are located at all buildings except for McKinley K-8 and William Penn. He also recommended cutting the expansion of the pre-kindergarten program, including three staff positions, and six positions that would have been at Hannah Penn next year. Those include three teachers, one social worker, one librarian and one coordinator.
He presented other options to the board, including additional staff and program cuts, but said Wednesday he did not recommend those cuts to the board.
The board will make the final decisions regarding any cuts to programs or staff at the June 25 meeting.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.