York Schools’ Challenge to Financial Recovery Law Could Become Court Issue

York, PA –

Whether the state education department can appoint someone to handle York City School District finances could eventually be decided in court, according to some state and local officials.

The district has asked for a hearing to argue against the state’s attempt to put it in financial recovery status. If the designation becomes official, the state would appoint a chief recovery officer to craft a plan for turning the district’s finances around.

York City argues that the state legally cannot apply the law retroactively.

The law says a school district can be declared in financial recovery if it receives an advance on its state funding. York City requested and received one in April 2012.

The city argues that was before the law was adopted. If the legislature intended to apply the law to advances made in the past, it should have used the word “received,” the district says.

The district also pointed out that the law originated in a proposal from Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, which stated it would apply to circumstances that occurred “within the previous three years.” That language is not in the final law, the district argues, showing that the legislature didn’t intend the law to apply to past advances.

Piccola, R-Susquehanna Township, could not be reached for comment this week.

Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said his organization is reading the law the same way the district is.

“I don’t know how far this would go, if it needs to go to a court to decide that ultimately. We certainly see the argument that York is making,” he said. Whether it becomes an issue might depend on how many other cases fall into the same situation.

Click here to read the full article by Angie Mason, published in The Daily Record/Sunday News (September 17, 2012)

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