Delaware County's Chester Upland schools, on course to run out of money in January, fell millions of dollars short last school year and used this year's funding to make up the deficit, documents released Thursday show.
Chester Upland is on course to overspend its current budget by close to 30 percent - about $27 million. The district figures it will take in about $8 million more than planned, but even so will end up about $19 million short by June with no way to pay off the debt, officials said.
By the end of the 2010-11 school year, the documents show, the district lacked funds to meet payroll and pay for medical insurance, among other things. So it used an advance payment of $10.1 million from the state and from Chester City to pay off those debts.
Also, $9.7 million in costs for 2011-12, some of which the district could have known were coming, were not covered by the budget passed in late June.
Money to cover unemployment compensation for the 115 professional staff and 84 support staff laid off this summer, a $2.2 million expense.
Contractually mandated employee pay increases, a $1 million expense. Those increases still have not been paid.
Transportation costs totaling $1.2 million.
Sports programs costing $300,000.
Acting Assistant Superintendent Thomas Persing said the school board "has inherited this situation, not created it. And it is a revenue problem, not a spending problem."
Between June 2010 and this fall, he said, the district, which relies on state aid for about 67 percent of its budget, lost about $24.6 million in state funding, including $11 million it had been receiving to offset its charter expenses.
Payments to charter schools this school year account for $43 million of the district's $96 million budget - about 45 percent. Because of increased charter enrollment, the district will pay about $5 million more than it had anticipated.
Chester Upland has 3,658 students in its regular schools and 3,025 or so at the Chester Community Charter School, the state's largest charter, and the much smaller Widener Partnership Charter.
Because of the staff layoffs, class sizes have ballooned, in some schools averaging more than 40 in a room. District enrollment has fallen by about 500. So spending can't be cut much further, officials said.
At a news conference in Chester on Thursday, School Board President Wanda Mann asked Gov. Corbett to advance the district enough money from district funds to keep it going.
Corbett spokeswoman Janet Kelley said in an e-mail that "the governor has received the letter from Chester Upland School District. He, along with the secretary of education and others, will review the request."