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Inner-City School District Facing Potential Closure in the Midst of Financial Woes

Written by:  Patrick Gallo

The Chester Upland School District is a midsized, urban public school district that has one of the highest student poverty rates in Pennsylvania. Under the guidance of their newly elected school board, the Chester Upland School District is in the midst of a financial meltdown. The meltdown stems from a growing charter school population, stiff budget cuts, and a limited tax base. Continually injecting funds, however, will not solve the greater issue of addressing Chester Upland’s failing educational system as demonstrated by the fact that the Chester Upland School District ranks sixth out of the fifteen Delaware County schools in per pupil spending, but last in PSSA scores.

Nevertheless, Chester Upland will at least have a few more months to address its ubiquitous educational concerns courtesy of a Federal judge’s order for the state to pay $3.2 million to the District. The $3.2 million, however, will only serve as a “band-aid,” as there is no long-term solution to fix the District’s financial difficulties. It will be interesting to see if the state will continually fund Chester-Upland or allow it to flounder and eventually dissolve.  In the event Chester-Upland is no longer able to keep its doors open, the state will have to determine whether to redraw district lines or test whether or not the Supreme Court is willing to extend its segregation ruling in Milliken v. Bradley in which it held that an interdistrict remedy cannot be used to solve an intradistrict problem.

Links of relevance:

Is there a solution for Chester Upland’s problems?

Plan outlines aid for troubled Chester Upland School District

Pa. offers plan to keep Chester Upland district afloat through end of school year

Federal Court Holds Onto School Funding Dispute

Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974).

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