The York City School District has received an unexpected but welcome financial boost from the state Legislature.
In June, the district approved a $114 million budget that included about $56 million in basic education funding from the state -- the amount recommended by Gov. Tom Corbett for York City schools.
Rather than further slash programs or raise taxes, district officials had planned to borrow about $5 million to cover expenses, said Richard Snodgrass, the district's business manager.
More funding: But state lawmakers passed a budget that increased the district's state subsidy by $5.5 million, Snodgrass said.
"They knew we had a shortfall, and we had planned on borrowing to cover that," he said. "And instead of doing that, we got additional basic subsidy."
The Legislature's decision increases the district's state funding by about $6.1 million compared to last year.
Snodgrass said he wouldn't normally recommend that the district borrow money to cover operational expenses.
"The truth is the district had cut expenses down to the point where we didn't feel, in order to operate the district, that we could cut programs further than what we had already cut them," he said. "So we had intended on borrowing the money in an attempt to rebuild the district."
Recovery plan: York City schools are on the cusp of implementing a state-mandated financial recovery plan approved by the district's school board in June that banks on hundreds of charter students returning. The district has been hemorrhaging students -- and, by extension, state funding -- since charter schools began opening in
the city more than a decade ago.
District officials are working hard to attract those students back.
"Depending on how successful that is, we may still have a little bit of a shortfall in our budget," Snodgrass said.
He predicted the district may still need to borrow as much as $2 million from the state. Because the district is in financial recovery, the district is eligible for a no-interest state loan.
"The key will be whether that money that we borrow results in us being able to improve the district so that students come back," he said.
The district is aiming to attract at least 170 charter students.
But there's no magic number the district must recruit in order to avoid borrowing money, Snodgrass said.
That's because the savings tied to each returning student depends on a variety of factors. For example, a returning high school student would save the district more money than a sixth-grader because there's more room at the high school.