Dover, Northern York school officials fail to reach deal on Washington Twp. secession

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Northern High School in Dillsburg, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Officials from Dover and Northern York County school districts failed Wednesday to reach a decision on whether they would petition state courts to delay transitioning Washington Township students to Northern York County by one year. 

As of July 1, 218 Dover students residing in Washington Township are to join the Northern York County School District, according to a court order. The move is expected to have major impacts on both districts.

In January, the state Supreme Court sided with a group of residents, the Washington Township Education Coalition, ending a yearslong battle over whether Washington Township students should remain in the Dover Area School District or attend Northern's schools. The coalition argued that Northern's district offered a better education with a lower tax rate. 

Dover board President Nathan Eifert announced Tuesday that Dover supported the petition, arguing that there are several unresolved issues that will take a long time to solve.

"There are simply too many unknowns at this time," Eifert said. 

Northern York County district officials have previously said they would consider petitioning the courts but so far have offered no clear indication on where the district stands on the issue. 

District leaders met last week to discuss a "global transition plan," according to Northern Superintendent Steven Kirkpatrick. In an email, Kirkpatrick said a petition was briefly addressed, but officials representing the two districts did not reach an agreement.

He said officials will meet again in the near future. 

In the past, Kirkpatrick said Northern officials have advocated to the State Board of Education and state courts for additional time, but neither granted their requests. 

"We are prepared to implement the transfer order as required," Kirkpatrick said in the email.

More:Dover Area School District wants to petition courts to delay Washington Twp. secession one year

More:Northern York officials project budget increases after Washington Twp. students enroll

More:Washington Twp. parents vent about move to Northern school district

During Dover's Tuesday board meeting, before Eifert announced the district's position on a petition, officials revealed the Washington Township secession would have major impacts on the district's finances. 

Jennifer Leppo, Dover Area's assistant business manager, said she anticipates the move will contribute to a $4.8 million deficit in the district's upcoming budget. 

In contrast, the secession is  expected to increase Northern York County's budget. Northern business manager Jason Young said he expects the district will receive about $3.4 million in additional local revenues.