At the first public forum in the York City School District's financial recovery process, David Meckley began by assuring the crowd that nothing has yet been settled.
"There is no answer that has been predetermined," said Meckley, who was appointed by the state to be the district's chief recovery officer and craft a plan for turning the district's finances around. "We're trying to figure that out. That's the whole reason why we're here."
Meckley, who will be aided by an advisory committee, said the goal is for the plan to provide for a sound, effective education, a safe and healthy learning environment and a sustainable business model.
He and district administrators began Monday's public forum with a presentation that was given to the advisory committee at a meeting last week, covering issues including district demographics, enrollment in charter schools, student achievement, and finances.
When the meeting was opened for comments, there were more questions than suggestions. Some said they'd attended to learn more about the process.
City resident and pastor Aaron Anderson said some of the statistics were telling. With 90 percent of the district's students in low-income families and with limited funding, Anderson said he wonders: "How are we going to work our way out of this?" It seems an unjust system, he said.
"I'm excited to see some creative ideas," he said.
York City Councilman Michael Helfrich suggested work needs to start before kids enter school.
"Somewhere along the line we are failing a good portion of our children," he said. It starts in homes and families, and schools and subsequently the city are asked to make up for it.
"It's just a succession of problems that ... none of us have the ability to deal with individually," he said.
City resident Glenn Medice asked about the timeline for adopting a plan and how long it will be before change can be seen.
Meckley said he hopes to extend the 90-day deadline by a month, so that the plan could be presented to the school board in April and the board could take action in May. He expects the plan will look at three to five years, and he is to monitor the district for one to two years.
"There's no expectation that July 1 of this year things are going to be better," he said. "There's an expectation that the real goal here is to look at a long-term change that really can make a significant impact on the students."
If you go
Another public forum on the York City School District financial recovery process will be held at 6 p.m. March 14, at Martin Library, 159 E. Market St., York.
The advisory committee involved in the process also has several meetings scheduled. The committee will meet Feb. 13, Feb. 28, March 13, March 27, April 10 and April 24. Those meetings, which are also open to the public, will be held at 6 p.m. in the board room of the district administration building, the release states.
Learn more about the process or how to provide input at www.ycsdrecoveryplan.org.