After months of research and evaluation, the Community Foundation submitted a report in February to the Committee called A New Education Model for the City of York. The report recommended that the school reform option with the best chance to successfully transform the district would be the creation of a district-wide system of community charter schools consisting of privately-run, high-performing nonprofits that any child in the district could attend for free. The report recognized that keys to successful reform were visionary leadership, commitment to evidence-based and collaborative educational approaches, family and community engagement, rigorous performance standards followed by accountability and rewards for results.
Last week, the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors and its YorkCounts committee voted unanimously to support the approved financial recovery plan for the School District of the City of York because it recommends bold, comprehensive reform, stronger and broader governance, rigorous performance measurements, increased accountability and consequences for non-performance. Most importantly, the plan gives children a much better chance at a higher quality of life.
Because of the strong commitment of the union membership, the plan has the potential to achieve financial stability and academic improvement that could not have been envisioned six months ago. We encourage the union leadership to support its membership’s commitment to children by finalizing a written agreement to enable the plan to become a reality.
The new plan for the School District also gives York an exciting opportunity to re-engage the community in supporting students. The plan has a greater chance of success because it will be spearheaded by Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley, a trusted leader who is strongly committed to academic and financial improvement. Superintendent Eric Holmes strengthens the leadership team by bringing years of experience and commitment to students. The proposed Community Education Council offers expanded oversight and engagement by parents, teachers and community leaders working together to make the city schools strong again. We believe this new leadership will have the discipline needed to ensure academic progress and hold schools accountable or make the decision to convert non-performing schools to external education providers.
While the recovery process has been challenging, it has generated out-of-the-box ideas that otherwise may not have been debated. It has also highlighted the fundamental flaws of the urban education system and expanded awareness that profound change is needed. While the financial recovery plan merits our investment of time and resources, long term solutions must include new structures to generate revenue for schools in communities with a limited tax base.
The Community Foundation and its YorkCounts committee are committed to help by advocating for changes to charter legislation that ensures accountability and stable funding for York City schools. We will also help organize support from community institutions to assist in making the financial recovery plan and the students of York successful. We will support efforts to develop a system of coordinated support services for students, similar to the Communities in Schools approach that was outlined in our report.
We encourage city residents who are passionate about public education and willing to commit time and energy to making it great to submit their name for consideration for the Community Education Council that will oversee the financial recovery plan. If interested, contact the Chief Recovery Officer at email@example.com. We also strongly encourage education and business professionals to run for the York City School Board. It will take a community effort to set the school district on the road to recovery. Please join the effort.