OP-ED: Re-elect York City school board incumbents to continue recovery

Michael G. Miller
York City
York City School District Board Vice President Michael Miller speaks during a special meeting regarding the future of Helen Thackston Charter School at the Administration Building in York City, Feb. 13, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Ten years ago, state legislators reduced York City School District revenue by over $10 million.

The district was forced to raise taxes, to furlough over 100 loving caring professionals, to eliminate most student athletics and to defer maintenance. The reserve fund dropped to 0.4 % instead of a healthy 10%.

Seven years ago, legislators declared the district financially distressed under Act 141, appointed the first chief recovery officer who sought to reduce employee cost by slashing teacher salaries and benefits, by outsourcing support staff for food and custodial services, and by transferring the district to out-of-state “for profit” charter schools.

The board conducted legal challenges to preserve the district for the students and the York community.

A research organization interviewed all community stakeholders and identified our strengths and weakness.

When Superintendent Eric Holmes and our second CRO, Carol Saylor, introduced the current recovery plan, they gathered together every staff member.

Dr. Holmes said the way of educating urban children as conducted for decades in York City (and across the nation) is not working. 

We will completely change and transform how we structure our learning environment.

We will change the relationships and culture among the students, teachers, support staff, administration, parents and community.

We will determine challenges and stresses that deter the students from achieving their full educational potential.

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More:York City district will apply to end recovery status this summer

More:State report card: York City district excels in growth; Central York, Dover struggle

The Act 141 recovery plan is successful because we authorized changes for the better.

K-8 students are progressing more than a year’s growth, the high school students are achieving greater in the Keystone Exams, and the district’s financial reserve fund is at a healthy level.

As the district advances from phase 1 to the five-year phase 2 of the recovery plan, the directors must strictly and precisely follow every aspect and requirement, or the result will be automatic commonwealth interception directing all authority and decisions to an appointed receivership.

The school district is the most underfunded of the 500 districts, to the tune of over $10 million.

Working its way through the court system will be a finding to revise the distribution of state funding for schools that will be fair, predictable and sustainable.  With increased state funding, we will be able to fully support the students and lower property taxes.

The futures of York City and the school district are intertwined; neither can be successful without the other being successful.

To continue the district progress (and eventually lower taxes), school directors will need to understand and follow the recovery plan.

Please consider re-nominating the current incumbents – Diane Glover-Brown, Lois Garnett and Michael G. Miller – at the May Primary. 

These directors have demonstrated a “change for the better” through their support and commitment to the students and though their faithful and determined fulfillment of the recovery plan.

The future of the children and the viability of the City of York will be dependent on wise decisions by the next school board.