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Wagner loans York's Thackston charter school $400K


State Sen. Scott Wagner said he's ready to provide more funding for a York City charter school that was unable to pay its 70 employees in October because of the state budget impasse.

The Spring Garden Township Republican tapped into a line of credit Thursday to loan Helen Thackston Charter School about $400,000 to meet payroll for the month -- and he said he and other business leaders from across the state are prepared to do it again in November if funding doesn't come from Harrisburg.

"We (business leaders) are not going to stand by and watch this (school) be closed," said the senator who represents a large part of York County. "I intend to step in again."

The loan: Without the loan, Friday would have been the second payday teachers at the 625 E. Philadelphia St. school would not have been paid, Wagner said.

"This is a right (versus) wrong issue for me," he said. "When you learn that 70 employees didn't get paid two weeks ago, that's a big concern for me."

The money, which Wagner borrowed at 3.5 percent interest, will cover the school's pay to employees, payroll taxes, employee health insurance, and utilities for October, he said, noting the irony that even though tax dollars deducted from pay checks go to Harrisburg, funding is not being dispersed because of the impasse.

Wagner estimated the school will need an additional $800,000 to keep afloat the remaining two months of the year.

Thackston has 530 students, and the lion's share, about 500, live in the city, Wagner said.

"Is it fair for 530 students to go to school wondering if their school is going to close?" he asked.

Impasse: The budget impasse, now in its fourth month, is beginning to squeeze school districts, county governments, nonprofit agencies and similar organizations across the state.

The York County Board of Commissioners this month approved opening a $20 million line of credit it will have to use to fund operations by the middle of November.

Despite growing concerns the impasse could lead to employee furloughs and further-reaching affects, Wagner said it doesn't appear a spending package will be signed into law any time soon.

"I don't know of anything that will unlock the impasse," he said.

— Reach Greg Gross at