Budget & Finance

Pa. District’s Fate Debated in Court

By Catherine Gewertz — December 13, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A hearing scheduled to resume this week could determine whether the state of Pennsylvania will for the first time put one of its school districts into receivership.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, essentially wants a judge to declare that the Chester-Upland school district should be managed like a bankrupt company. That would mean a court would appoint and supervise someone to manage the 4,700-student system’s business.

Since 1994, Chester-Upland’s finances—and as of 2000, all of its affairs—have been overseen by a control board whose three members are state- and court-appointed.

But problems persisted, and now the question is whether such an arrangement is sufficient.

The Commonwealth Court hearing on Gov. Rendell’s lawsuit is set to resume in Philadelphia on Dec. 15 as lawyers for the control board present their case. During the first part of the hearing, held Nov. 28-30 in Harrisburg, the state presented its case.

Its highest-profile witness, acting state Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak, testified that the district needs a tighter state rein because it is faltering fiscally and academically.

A financial consultant called by the state testified that the district’s budget was in disarray last year, but he also submitted a report saying the control board had rectified its problems. He was also expected to testify for the defense.

The state contends that the Chester-Upland district is in dire need of state help.

“The governor thinks it’s become a mess financially, academically, and educationally,” said Mike Storm, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania education department.

But control board members contend they are being scapegoated for many previous years of mismanagement.

Granville Lash, one of the members, said he welcomes investigation into all those sharing blame for the district’s woes. But the state, he said, is wrongly escaping its share.

“We didn’t create the situation. We inherited it,” Mr. Lash said. “This has been going on for decades, and the state knew about it.”


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance Most Districts Say They Don't Need More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars
Only 13 percent of districts surveyed by ASBO International said they plan to seek approval to spend the federal aid past the deadline.
2 min read
Roll of dollar banknotes with colored pencils on the shelf.
iStock/Getty Images
Budget & Finance 2023 in School Finance: Legal Fights, School Choice Debates, Persistent Inequities
Highlights of the year in school finance coverage include school funding lawsuits, private school choice legislation, and the looming financial storms brewing.
6 min read
Conceptual illustration of business people, a roll of paper, and the people using computers, a magnifying glass and telescope with the year 2023 as a shadow below them.
Liz Yap/Education Week and iStock/ Getty.
Budget & Finance Bus Contracts: The Pros and Cons for School Districts Outsourcing Transportation
Districts see more predictable costs and get valuable expertise, but high costs send some back to an in-house model.
1 min read
Buses parked covered with snow
Budget & Finance From Our Research Center When ESSER Funds Are Gone, Here's Where Districts May Turn to Fill Gaps
Districts will look to a range of funding sources to cover the services they've paid for in recent years with a surge of federal money.
4 min read
tight crop of sand running through an hour glass with a blurred photo of Benjamin Franklin in the background