Financially Distressed Schools

Governor Signs House Bill 1307 to Aid Financial Distressed Schools July 12, 2012

Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett today signed into law House Bill 1307, legislation designed to help financially distressed school districts and ensure education for the children who live in these communities.

“Any kind of school reform or school rescue has to be, first and foremost, about the students,’’ Corbett said. “This bill provides the framework for the state Department of Education to intercede and work with local officials to help reconstruct a failing district while making sure the students in that district still receive an education.’’

The new law establishes a set course of action that will help guide financially distressed school districts back onto solid economic ground. Under the new law, the state will provide financial aid as well as management assistance.

“This bill is about saving the educations of students when the system has failed them. The state constitution guarantees every child an education and we intend to see that obligation fulfilled,’’ Corbett said. “The total cost of implementing this bill is, at present, just under $6 million. The cost of not acting is to lose a generation of young people to a failed system.’’

The distressed school measure is one of the initiatives that have been enacted to improve education for Pennsylvania students. Other initiatives include the enhancement of the teacher evaluation system, expansion of the educational improvement tax credits as well as other changes to the School Code.

The governor and legislative leaders have reiterated their commitment to charter school reform when the General Assembly reconvenes in the fall.

Under section 611-A(c) of the Public School Code of 1949, the Secretary of Education is required to establish guidelines for the Early Warning System. The principal goal of the guidelines is to identify and provide technical assistance to school districts to prevent them from becoming Financial Recovery Status school districts.

Impact of HB 1307 on Upper Darby School District:
This early warning system recently established by Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education takes into account a number of financial variables in the operation of the district, as well as the financial status of the local municipal government in which the district is located. If a school district is designated as financial distressed by the secretary of education, this sets in motion a number of actions that may be taken that may include the loss of decision-making authority on the part of the school district administration and its elected school board. If nothing is done at the state level to change the way public education is funded and the financial condition of the Upper Darby School District continues to deteriorate, it is likely that we could receive such a designation in the next two (2) to three (3) years. This would have a devastating impact on our community.