Citing budget gap, Chester Upland schools cut staff

Posted: March 14, 2014

CHESTER UPLAND The Chester Upland School District is laying off nine administrative staff members as part of an effort to reduce a $20 million spending gap, officials said Wednesday.

"Given the deficit we face and mandates to rightsize the administrative staff, we have no choice but to reduce the staff size," said state-appointed receiver Joe Watkins, who has been charged with implementing a recovery plan for the ailing Delaware County district.

The cuts, which the district had first said would affect 10 employees, will save $1.4 million in next year's $125 million budget. The district, which has about 3,000 students, is also trying to sell three buildings it no longer uses and is asking the state for more money.

Watkins said the district still has "fiscal challenges that need to be overcome."

Last year, Chester Upland laid off 17 staff members and threatened to close two elementary schools to stem the loss of students and state dollars. After a successful enrollment campaign, the schools were spared and some employees brought back.

The furloughed positions include administrators and administrative assistants. Some employees were told Tuesday was their last day and the rest were getting notices Wednesday.

Watkins acknowledged that the layoffs were sudden. But given the budget woes, he said, "we felt compelled to make some changes right now."

Watkins also said the district plans to auction off the unused buildings in the hope of raising $300,000.



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