School District Of The City Of York
District, Helen Thackston Charter School agreement serves best interests of students and taxpayers
The governing boards for the School District of the City of York and the Helen Thackston Charter School have reached an agreement on the charter school’s future that serves the best interests of York City students and saves significant taxpayer dollars.
The directors of each organization voted Oct. 19, 2017 to approve a legally binding agreement that guarantees the charter school’s closure on or before June 30, 2019.
The agreement stipulates a Jan. 31, 2018 deadline for the charter school to complete and approve at a public meeting independent financial audits for the years ending June 30, 2014; June 30, 2015; and June 30, 2016. The agreement also stipulates an April 1, 2018 deadline for the completion and approval of an independent financial audit for the year ending June 30, 2017.
If the Helen Thackston Charter School fails to meet any of the audit deadlines, then the school will cease operations no later than June 30, 2018, according to the agreement.
If the charter school remains open for the 2018-19 school year, the charter school has agreed not to enroll a 6th grade class and to cap its total enrollment of grades 7-12 students who reside within the school district’s boundaries at 400.
District and charter school representatives negotiated this agreement in good faith with a mutually shared goal of avoiding an expensive, time-consuming and emotionally taxing legal process that would have likely taken two years to complete under the requirements of the Charter School Law.
As the entity responsible for holding York City charter schools accountable to state laws and the obligations of individual charters, the school district has spent several years attempting to resolve serious concerns with the Helen Thackston Charter School.
In 2014, the district’s Board of Directors approved a 5-year renewal of Helen Thackston’s charter with an extensive list of conditions to be met. Those conditions included, for example, improved student performance on PSSA and Keystone tests and implementation of the unique Homeland Security programming and opportunities promised in its charter application. Helen Thackston officials agreed to these conditions with the acknowledgment that failure to comply could form the basis for charter revocation or nonrenewal.
Earlier this year, following a lengthy review of the charter school’s operations since the 2014 renewal, district administration recommended and the Board of School Directors agreed to begin charter revocation proceedings. Public hearings were scheduled to begin Oct. 13, 2017 but were canceled as district and charter school representatives negotiated the resolution approved by both entities today.
“We have a duty to hold charter schools accountable to the public. We also have a responsibility to the public to spend their tax dollars wisely,” Superintendent Dr. Eric Holmes said. “This agreement allows us to meet both of those objectives.”