With each word I read in the Daily Times article ‘Chester Upland recovery plan discussed at hearing,’ my head shook harder and harder until it was about to fall off. Thankfully, Juan Baughn offers a voice of reason at the very last sentence stopping me from a potential aneurism.

Once again, the Delaware County judge told the school district folks to ‘get that mess outta here’ with their half-baked Financial Recovery Plan. Actually, the plan may be pretty good but folks here in Chester have a hard time keeping the books. Apparently, the school district is a couple years behind on their audits and offer a few inexcusable excuses why that’s the case.

My head really got to shaking when they mention the five major areas in the plan that should be explored as soon as possible:

  • Outsourcing transportation
  • Facilities and finance (these should be two separate items)
  • Outsourcing management and operations of schools
  • Completing a facilities assessment
  • Reducing special education costs
  • Assessing leadership (isn’t that six major areas?)

Transportation: I heard the transportation costs are out of control and some of it has to do with bussing students less than a mile. Kids don’t want to walk to and from school anymore. You can call it lazy or dangerous. Either way, it’s costing the district a lot of money to transport students.

Facilities: There is an estimated $30 million required over the next three years at district schools just as a “Band-Aid” to keep them safe, and that doesn’t factor in the tons of money spent on boiler repairs in the past that never seemed to fix the problem.

Finance: Can we just find a few people who can keep the books.

Outsourcing management and operations of school: What are these highly paid administrators doing that in order to recover the school district we have to go somewhere else to find highly paid administrators?

Facilities assessment: Stop! Y’all making it sound like we’re some great big school district with dozens of buildings stretching miles across the city. Why don’t you already know what’s wrong with these buildings and what needs to be fixed?

Reducing Special Education Costs: In my crazy mixed up mind, the best way to reduce special education costs is to reduce special education students.

Assessing leadership: What’s it matter if you plan to outsource management and operations of schools anyway?

The issue with the charter school take over of the public schools came up. Sounds like it’s not only being considered, but they seem to want to consider putting bids out for charter schools across the nation to get a shot at it.

With all this talk, nobody has said a thing about buying books, computers, laboratories, chalk boards, or #2 pencils. Thank God outgoing superintendent Juan Baughn reminded those assembled in the courtroom that the main thrust of any plan must be what he deemed the “Quad A’s” of academics, activities, athletics and arts. In my mind, let’s not overachieve. Can we just hear a little about academics?

Here’s the Dr. Baughn line of the day…

“It is really, really important that as we continue to talk finances, that we remember these finances are about educating our students.”

Anyone heard from the school board?