January 13, 2012The Honorable Thomas W. CorbettGovernor of PennsylvaniaGovernor's Office225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120Re:
Fiscal Crisis at Chester-Upland School District
Dear Governor Corbett:We the undersigned are the legislators whose districts, in whole or in part, includeDelaware County. We are Republicans and Democrats who are united in asking for your administration's assistance in addressing the crisis in the Chester-Upland School District.As you know, the situation at Chester-Upland is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Thedistrict, one of the poorest in the state, is responsible for educating more than 3,600 students(excluding children in charter schools). Currently, it faces a debt of approximately $21 million.As of today, its bank account contains about $300,000. There are about $230,000 in outstandingchecks which have been sent but not yet cashed. This would leave approximately $70,000cash in the hands of the District. Further, the District is holding up $432,000 in checks to venderswhich are due, but which the District does not have the money to cover. This financial situation,as dire as it is, will only worsen in the short term as money due and owing continues to exceedincoming revenues.Put bluntly, Chester-Upland School District is unable to pay its bills. Among the currentobligations the District is unable to meet are teacher's salaries and payments to venders,including fuel to drive the school buses, maintenance for those buses, electricity, school lunches,medical insurance etc. The teachers and administrators of the District have selflessly agreed towork without pay for a short period of time as we attempt to resolve this issue. But this isobviously not a situation that is sustainable for any length of time.This is not the time to assign blame, either to the state boards of control which ran thedistrict from 1994 to 2010, or the current elected school board which has been responsible for the past 18 months. Our focus should be on the children of the district.We agree that the Commonwealth cannot continue to direct additional taxpayer dollars toa broken system. However, without short-term financial help, Chester-Upland faces the strong,imminent likelihood that it will have to close its doors and stop educating children. It isimportant to recognize what that means specifically. There is no other school district, collectionof school districts, or charter school nearby that could come remotely close to accommodating3,600 students. Thus, if Chester-Upland closes its doors, there will be thousands of Pennsylvaniachildren who literally have nowhere to go to school.