Judge rules against effort to cut Chester Upland charter school funding

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A judge made a ruling on the school funding in Chester Upland School District. (WPVI)

In Delaware County, a judge has ruled against an effort to cut funding to charter schools in the Chester Upland School District.

The ruling came as parents, teachers, and educators packed a meeting Tuesday to talk about the district's money problems.

The cash-strapped district says it is millions of dollars in the hole and needs to make up enough funding in order to run properly for the upcoming school year which starts next week.

To save money, the district asked a judge to step in and allow it to reduce certain funding charter schools.

Currently, charter schools receive $40,000 for each student listed with learning disabilities.

While non-charter schools receive around $16,000 for children with learning disabilities.

The district wants charter schools to be in line with non-charter schools.

Parents like Asia Gibson with special needs children are outraged that charter schools receive more money in the same area.

"I feel it's unfair. I believe it's because where we are; I do believe it's the demographics, it's the economic status of where we are as to why we're kind of looked over," Gibson said.

Others say the funding issues are pitting students at non-charter schools against those at charter schools

Late Tuesday, a Delaware County judge ruled that the Chester Upland School District must continue to pay the charter schools at the current rate.

The judge did however approve the district to hire a turnaround specialist in hopes of getting them back on track.

Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the judge's Chester Upland ruling:

"The amended financial recovery plan submitted by Chester Upland School District Receiver Dr. Francis Barnes called for drastic, but necessary, corrective action to fix a massive budget deficit that has put the district in danger of not opening.

"The portions of the plan that were accepted by Judge Kenney include initiating a forensic audit to reassure tax dollars are being spent properly, bringing in a financial turnaround specialist to find immediate savings, and restructuring a loan agreement with the Department of Education. All of these actions are imperative in putting Chester Upland on solid financial footing. But Judge Kenney's decision to reject necessary reforms to the special education rates paid by the school district to its charter schools will unfortunately allow a decades-old problem to persist, and the district's massive budget deficit will only worsen.

"It is clear serious financial reforms are still needed and my administration will evaluate its options moving forward."
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