Chester Upland Teachers, support staff thank legislators for working to secure funding to keep district schools open
Leaders of the school employee unions representing teachers and support staff in the Chester Upland School District released a January 23 statement thanking state legislators who worked to secure an agreement with Gov. Tom Corbett to avert the district’s looming financial crisis.
Gloria Zoranski, president of the Chester Upland Education Association, and Jacqueline Browne, president of the Chester Upland Educational Support Personnel Association, cited efforts by state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, state Reps. William Adolph and Thaddeus Kirkland and others in reaching the agreement with the Corbett Administration, following a meeting with the governor today in Harrisburg.
“We are very relieved to hear that the Corbett Administration has agreed to keep Chester Upland’s schools open,” said Zoranski, a high school business teacher. “Pennsylvania’s elected state officials appear to finally recognize the need to provide resources to allow the students in Chester Upland to finish the school year.
“This sad situation should never have reached this crisis point,” Zoranski said. “Unprecedented measures had to be taken by these legislators just to persuade the governor to keep the schoolhouse doors open until June, so the 3,600 students attending Chester Upland schools receive the public education to which they are legally entitled, and so the school district can pay its bills.”
“Corbett Administration officials shouldn’t be congratulating themselves for agreeing to this,” said Browne, a secretary in the district.
“After all, the very least that Pennsylvania’s students should expect is that they actually have a place to go to school for the entire academic year.”
“We look forward to hearing the details of the agreement reached with the governor,” Browne said.
Prior to today’s announcement, Chester Upland School District administration officials had informed the district’s unionized workers that the district would soon be unable to meet its payroll obligations. The teachers and support staff workers of the district agreed to work temporarily without pay as a result.
The 2011-2012 state budget approved by Gov. Corbett last June cut an unprecedented 14.4 percent reduction in state support from the district. Chester Upland has one of the highest student poverty rates in Pennsylvania, and is heavily dependent upon state funding. The district was declared financially distressed in 1994 and placed under state control until 2010.
The district has already made drastic cuts to its educational program in response to recent state funding reductions, including layoffs and furloughs to more than a third of its staff.
The Corbett Administration had previously turned down the district’s request for an advance of its June subsidy payments to keep the district operating for the remainder of the academic year. Gov. Corbett in televised remarks last week had said the district would not receive additional funds to keep the district running beyond February.
The Chester Upland Education Association represents the 204 teachers in the district, and the Chester Upland Educational Support Personnel Association, represents 65 school support staff workers. Both local unions are affiliates of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association.