By Karen Langley
HARRISBURG (June 19) – The Pennsylvania Senate has approved legislation creating a recovery process for fiscally distressed school districts.
Senators struck provisions in an earlier version that would have limited collective bargaining by eliminating the right to strike and allowing an official appointed by the state education secretary to impose contract terms.
Under the proposal, the state education department would monitor school districts showing signs of financial distress and offer technical help. Certain events would trigger the secretary of education to declare a district to be in “financial recovery” and to appoint an official, known as a chief recovery officer, to develop and implement a plan for regaining fiscal health. If the elected school board did not cooperate with the recovery officer, the education secretary could petition for the district to enter receivership.
The bill also provides for the education department to award a long-term, interest-free loan to a district that implements a recovery plan.
The proposal now heads to the House.