As Delco judge ponders Chester Upland schools’ fate, parents left in the lurch

Buses from Chester Upland School District await dismissal from Chester High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

Buses from Chester Upland School District await dismissal from Chester High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney will decide Monday whether to implement a plan put forth by Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and state appointed Chester Upland School District receiver Francis Barnes to overhaul the district’s finances.

At a school board meeting Thursday, parents got together to vent their frustrations about being told that their school might not open at all if more money can’t be found.

Latrice Williams said she had already pulled her son, who is entering the 11th grade, out of the district after hearing that money problems were brewing a couple of weeks ago.

“I was told that they were going to start having problems with the funding,” she said. “How do you start having problems with the funding? You either having problems with the funding or you don’t.”

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Williams said she’s still weighing her options for her two daughters, ages 6 and 7, who are enrolled at Chester Upland School of the Arts.

“They like their school,” she said. “Their teachers try to work with them.”

Parent LaMica Shorts said she will wait to hear Judge Kenney’s ruling before deciding what to do – although it doesn’t give her much time.

“It’s a lot I would have to figure out in the next couple weeks,” said Shorts, who works at a day care facility and is also in school for human resources. Her daughter is enrolled at Chester Community Charter School.

Shorts said she would consider moving or homeschooling her children if the school does not open on time.

Parents will have another chance to speak before the school board at a meeting Tuesday. The first meeting, which Williams and Shorts attended, was so crowded it had to be cut short and moved to a larger venue.

For more background on Wolf’s plan — which largely depends on finding savings in the district and reducing the $40,000 per-pupil payments for special education students at charter schools — and some history on Chester-Upland’s financial distress, click here.

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