Dover and Northern school districts going back to court over Washington Twp. secession

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Dover Area High School in Dover Township, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Dover Area School District officials are going back to court after failing to reach an agreement with Northern York County School District about a financial settlement related to the impending Washington Township secession.

In a Wednesday news release, Dover stated Northern officials proposed a settlement "far below" what Dover officials believe the district owes Dover. Officials from both districts met twice in March and were unable to reach an agreement. As a result, the dispute will go before the York County Court of Common Pleas, according to the news release.

Following a nine-year court battle that ended last year, 218 Dover students residing in Washington Township will transition to Northern York County School District on July 1. Dover stands to lose about $3.2 million from the move, while Northern expects to gain about $3.4 million. 

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

According to the release, Northern's final proposal was a settlement to be paid to Dover over a three-year period for either tuition or debt obligations. Dover officials did not reveal how much they believe the district is owed in the news release, but they said they believe they are owed more according to the previous court order and state Board of Education. 

"The Dover Area School district will not, and cannot, do anything that will jeopardize the educational opportunities we provide for the remaining 3,500 students of our entire community," the release said. "By accepting Northern York’s last and final offer, the district would be doing just that."

Northern Superintendent Steven Kirkpatrick said Dover officials wanted Northern to assume some of its debt as part of the settlement, which his district did not agree with. Regardless of what happens with the financial negotiations, he said Washington Township families will transition to Northern as scheduled. 

"That's a done deal," he said. 

Dover officials have attempted to extend the time frame of the secession in order to continue negotiations. Dover school board President Nathan Eifert said district leaders had planned to meet with Northern officials March 17 to discuss petitioning the courts to extend the secession one year. Officials did not come to an agreement at that meeting. 

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

While Northern York County Assistant Superintendent Jason Beals previously said the district would consider a petition, Kirkpatrick said the district currently has no intention to pursue an extension.