It's looking more and more likely that the York City School District lost an entire year it could have spent implementing a financial recovery plan.
Last spring, state-appointed recovery officer David Meckley was considering two options to repair the district's finances, improve academics and increase safety.
One was a drastic approach that would rewrite the book on education in York by converting all of the district's buildings into charter schools, something that had never been tried in Pennsylvania. Every teacher would be furloughed and have to reapply for his or her jobs with the charter operators.
The other option, proposed by the teachers' union and the administration, was essentially one last chance for the district to make the improvements on its own.
The "internal transformation model" would create themed K-8 magnet schools and focused "academies" at William Penn Senior High School, add pre-kindergarten classes at its K-8 buildings and create school advisory committees at each building to help guide the direction of the school.
Any school that didn't show progress by the end of the 2015-16 school year could be converted to a charter school.
There was one major catch to that model — it also called for major concessions from the teachers' union beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
The worst-case scenario, according to a financial consultant, included salary cuts ranging from 5.8 percent for clerical and custodial staff to 17.5 percent for administrators, with teachers somewhere in the middle. In following years, there would be more uniform cuts of about 6 percent to 7 percent annually.
Teachers would take a hit, no doubt, but at least they'd have jobs.
That might explain why Meckley received a standing ovation April 30, 2013, when he announced he'd chosen the internal transformation model.
Oh, what a difference a year makes.
The district's teachers union this week rejected a new collective-bargaining agreement with the wage and benefit concessions. Without them, the recovery plan doesn't work.
The lack of a new contract also triggers a provision of the recovery plan that would turn the district over to external charter providers. Meckley said charter agreements could be signed as early as this fall, with the conversions taking place for the 2015-16 school year.
Most students, parents and city taxpayers probably believed this matter was settled last year, and it must be frustrating to learn the future of the district is still uncertain.
We don't know why this deal is falling apart now..if one side or the other got cold feet or is trying to change the terms. In hindsight, however, it appears Meckley should not have signed off on the internal transformation model without a new contract in place reflecting the needed changes.
At this point, we just wished they'd all get on with it — whatever "it" is going to be.