Harrisburg, March 20, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster sent a Right-to-Know request to the state Department of Education yesterday asking that it release a list of all school districts that have been designated for financial watch status or identified for monitoring under the early warning system.

Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said he has been frustrated trying to get an assessment of the total number and names of school districts that have been identified as being in financial trouble. He has resorted to the Right-to-Know process to get answers.

“In order to address problems impacting financially struggling school districts and prepare legislation to deal with issues that arise, lawmakers need to know the depth of the problem,” Brewster said. “For many years, we have been told that the Corbett Administration has been looking specifically at a number of schools that may be declared distressed. No information has been distributed to lawmakers in areas that may be impacted.

“We need to know up front how extensive this distressed schools list is.”

The lawmaker said he suspects that some of the school districts are located in his senatorial district. He wants to seek solutions before they find themselves in the same position as the Duquesne School District, which was recently put in receivership.

“For too long, lawmakers who represent schools that are on the precipice of fiscal distress have had to play catch up when the administration announces schools that are in financial trouble,” Brewster said. “We need to get ahead and take necessary actions before districts are pushed over the edge.”

Brewster said his Right-to-Know request also includes details about the financial status of school districts even if the Education department has not concluded its full analysis. He asked the department to provide the levels of early warning system that have been completed and not completed, the percentage of school districts that have been analyzed under each level and all school districts that have been identified for more extensive analysis.

The McKeesport lawmaker also asked the department to release any time line that has been developed for the early warning system, or, alternatively, when each level of the warning system will be completed.

The department has five days to respond to the Right-to-Know request but may ask for an extension.


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