September 21, 2015

Parents and community leaders rally for Chester Upland School District 

Nearly 80 parents, community members, and education advocates gathered in the state capitol to rally to #KeepChesterUplandOpen.

Parents and community leaders traveled to Harrisburg in the hope of resolving Chester Upland's chronic fiscal problems and ensuring students can continue to learn in the district's public schools.

Chester Upland Rally - Harrisburg - Sept 21, 2015

When the Chester Upland School District worried it would be unable to make payroll at the start of the school year, teachers and support staff agreed to keep working so that schools could stay open, and the Chester Upland community rallied to support them.

Chester Upland employees were paid on Sept. 9 thanks to a commitment from the state to advance funding, but until the financial crisis in Chester Upland is resolved, no one will know what to expect from one week to the next.

PSEA Treasurer Rich Askey attended the rally, speaking in support of the educators, support professionals, and students in Chester Upland. "I'm here to thank the Chester Upland community for speaking out for Chester Upland's kids, for standing in support of its educators and support professionals, and for standing in the state Capitol, making your voices heard, and sending a message to the people elected to serve here."

Chester Upland Rally - Harrisburg - Rich Askey - Sept 21, 2015

Pictured: PSEA Treasurer Rich Askey speaking at the rally in the state Capitol.

Chester Upland, like every other school district in the state, is a victim of the ongoing budget impasse between legislative leaders and the governor, which has cut off state funding for public schools. This has thrown Chester Upland into crisis and reduced its cash flow to nearly nothing.

"It's high time that the people in this building make the right decisions about Chester Upland, fund the schools properly, change the charter school law, and make sure that the kids in Chester Upland have every opportunity to learn and grow and flourish - just like every other public school student in Pennsylvania," Askey said.

The Chester Upland School District has been in and out of financial crises for 25 years, and is currently under state control. About half of the district's students attend charter schools.  Under current state rules, the district must pay charter schools about half its annual budget, contributing significantly to the current financial crisis.

Parents and community leaders called on state legislators to fix the state's broken charter school funding system, which has resulted in charter schools being paid far more than it actually costs to educate students with special needs.

"Chester Upland's students matter," said Dennis Martineli, the parent of a Chester Upland student. "Our parents and our community need lawmakers to understand how critically important it is to have strong public schools in Chester Upland."

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