Selected readings on US charter schools
Students from kindergarten through 12th grade pick the perfect outfit, break out brand-new school supplies and head off to the first day with hopes for a successful year.
The nerves usually subside by the second day, and the school year goes on.
For York City schools, this is one year those nerves just might stick around — not for students, but for administrators and teachers hoping to bring the district out of financial recovery.
This is a do-or-die school year for the district, which just six months ago faced the very real possibility of becoming a charter school system — the very thing that helped contribute to the financial crisis now facing the district.
As a York Dispatch special report published last week highlighted, enrollment in York City schools has decreased by 30 percent in the last 20 years.
Where have those students gone? Charter schools — which get tuition from school districts for enrolled students.
But for the last two years, the district hasn’t received subsidies to offset that tuition: Gov. Tom Corbett put an end to that.
So while charter schools in the past have had to market themselves to attract students, now it’s York City schools that have to play that marketing game to lure students back.
Under the leadership of Superintendent Eric Holmes, that’s just what the district has done over the summer and plans to continue in the coming months.
Holmes is hoping to add 250 students from charter schools this year by showing parents what the district has to offer.
The stakes are high. If significant progress isn’t made this year, any of the district’s seven schools could go the way of charters.
So this is the year the district has to re-create itself, or lose itself entirely.
As Randy James, Goode Elementary principal and long-time educator in the district, said: “We’re trying to change the face of the district. We’re trying to become community-based.”
Perhaps more to the point: “The city schools have to step up,” he said.
Yes, it’s step up or step back.
No less than the future of the district is on the line.
Source: York Dispatch