York City schools use extra state funds to hire staff

Alyssa Jackson
  • York City School District saw an increase in state funding for the 2016-17 academic year.
  • On Wednesday night, the school board approved a proposal to use extra funds for recovery plan goals.
  • The proposal includes hiring six social workers, five behavioral specialists and an additional attendance officer.

The York City school board approved Superintendent Eric Holmes' proposal to use additional funds from the Pennsylvania state budget to enhance the district's recovery plan goals.

Eric Holmes, superintendent of York City Schools, welcomes guests for York City Mayor C. Kim Bracey's State of the City Address at Hannah Penn Middle School, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Holmes recommended at Wednesday's meeting that the board approve hiring six licensed social workers who would work with students and families to connect them to services in the community, offer counseling and make home visits. Holmes also suggested hiring five behavioral specialists through the district's contract with Martin Library, allowing one dedicated specialist to each school building.

Finally, Holmes asked that an additional attendance officer be hired for William Penn Senior High School to assist the other two attendance officers with truancy education, support services and law enforcement throughout York City, including in the charter schools.

"Adding social workers, behavioral specialists and an attendance officer to our team will directly and positively impact student achievement in York City," Holmes said in a news release from the district. "We see this as a step toward leveling the playing field for students who experience the effects of poverty and mental illness. When their emotional needs and social needs are addressed by qualified professionals, students are more ready to learn. And teachers can focus on teaching."

The state budget, which became law on July 11, allocated $62.6 million to the school district, which was an increase of $3.6 million from last year's numbers. The district also has boasted of increasing its fund balance by close to $1 million during the 2015-16 fiscal year in past school board meetings.

No tax increase from York City Schools

A news release explained that many of the positions being added had existed previously but had been cut because of the district's finances. The school has been in financial recovery status for more than two years, and Chief Recovery Officer Carol Saylor has said in the past that the plan focuses on helping students' performance and fixing the district's finances.

"The additional revenue from the state allows the district to continue on its path toward academic and financial recovery without dipping into fund balance for the 2016-17 year," the release said.