I have to give credit to Upper Darby School District Superintendent Lou DeVlieger and his staff.
They’re not running away from the financial crunch the district is facing. Even if that's exactly what they might want to do. Instead they’ve taken the novel approach of meeting the problem head-on. And going public in defense of their plan to attack the problem.
You might remember a couple of weeks ago the school administration sent shock waves through the district by announcing plans to cut a lot of teacher positions and eliminate “special” classes in art, music, physical education and library. Instead those curriculums in the elementary and middle school would be covered in their regular classrooms.
Parents are not happy. And they haven’t exactly been quiet about it. They’ve set up a Facebook page and website, and are circulating a petition to oppose the plan.
Public hearings are set starting next week.
But De Vlieger, his assistant Dan McGarry and Business Manager Ed Smith decided to sit down and talk about the situation yesterday.
You have to admire their moxie. Not only are they talking about the cuts, they’re also admitting that the district is facing a tax hike – even after the cuts.
I’m not sure how many other administrators would take that tack. Most duck for cover whenever we come asking questions, especially when it comes to cutting popular programs or eliminating jobs.
DeVlieger and his team aren’t hiding anything. They’re putting their cards on the table.
Residents might not like what they are proposing, but they should consider themselves lucky they live in a district that is trying to operate with transparency.
The district has a problem. Like a lot of other districts in the region, their expenditures are outpacing revenue, especially after state funding cuts and an onerous system of reimbursing charter schools that siphons off millions that could be used in the public school classrooms.
It's not going to go away anytime soon. And it's likely not going to go away without a lot of pain and very touch decisions.
DeVlieger and his staff are facing something along the lines of Mission Impossible. At l east now we know where they stand.
I, for one, admire their stance.