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York City School Police escort students in caroling tour to spread holiday cheer.

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The York City School District has become an easy target over the years, especially for those who reside outside the city limits.

If you’ve lived in York County for more than a few weeks, you’ve almost certainly heard the barbs.

The kids are troublesome, the teachers are passionless and the administrators are clueless.

Or so the stereotypes go.

On more than a few occasions, in this space, we’ve taken the city district to task for its failures. We believe those criticisms were justified then, and remain justified now.

For instance, the district’s overall financial oversight has often been lacking, and its poor handling of the Helen Thackson Charter School situation was especially troubling. That school is now scheduled to close after the 2018-19 school year.

While the city school district is far from perfect and still faces some huge challenges, there are a few reasons for optimism as we enter a new year.

For instance:

►In November, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released test scores that showed city students improved over last year in both math and English. They were one of only four districts in the county to show improvement.

►City students have, on multiple occasions in the last month, proven that they are committed to improving their community. First there was York City Cares ... A Resource Fair, a four-hour event in early December at William Penn Senior High School that provided 500 donated coats. Then, later in December, the York City School District Police took about 50 students around town in an effort to spread holiday cheer. The group performed for about 15 minutes at four locations around York City.

►Just last week, it was learned the district recently rid itself of two vacant former school buildings, selling the properties for a combined $236,000. That should provide a much-needed financial boost to the cash-strapped district, hopefully providing some relief to the overburdened city taxpayers.

►The good news even extends to athletic endeavors. The long-suffering York High football program enjoyed a stunning turnaround this season, going from a 1-9 regular season in 2016 to a 9-1 regular season in 2017. And the once-dominant boys’ basketball team is showing signs of returning to its former status as one of York County’s best programs. After a disappointing 8-14 season in 2016-17, the Bearcats are off to promising 6-3 start this season. There’s no denying that athletic success can often boost the morale of an entire school district.

►Finally, on Dec. 20, the city district honored one of its own from its past when Cleo Clifford Carr Jr. was belatedly awarded a graduate certificate. A state law passed in 1949 allows school boards to award high school diplomas to veterans honorably discharged after serving in World War II. “Man, I waited (since 19)44 to get this,” Carr said, adding “I never thought I would get this.” By honoring Carr, the city district proved it hasn’t forgotten its past while focusing on its future.

Those are just a few of the promising signs of life in the city district.

Yes, there’s no doubt that a mountain of hard work still needs to be done.

But there’s also no doubt that much good work has already been done.

As we enter a new year, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic for the future of the city school district.

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