Stunning Violence in York City Signals Need for Meaningful Reform, not More Funding

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Stunning Violence in York City Signals Need for Meaningful Reform,
not More Funding

13 percent of reported sexual assaults in state schools occurred in York City School District

March 18, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Would you send your child to a school district that teaches 8 percent of the county’s students yet accounts for 87 percent of its student assaults?

In 2012-13, York City School District tied for second-lowest in academic performance in the state. New research reveals that York City is also one of the most violent school districts in Pennsylvania—far exceeding even Philadelphia in rates of violence, according to the state Department of Education’s 2013-14 Safe Schools Report.

“York City families are suffering both from bottom-rung academics and outrageous rates of school violence,” commented James Paul, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. “York City School District accounted for 13 percent of reported sexual assaults in the entire state and is home to 31 times the state average for simple assaults on students. The district even exceeds Philadelphia by a factor of 10 in many school violence categories.”

“It’s no wonder academic performance is so dismal in York City when students are forced to learn in such a violent atmosphere.”

The School District of Philadelphia is well known for its high rates of school violence, yet York City has a shocking 15 times the rate of simple assaults on students, 16 times the rate of fighting, and 12 times the rate of threats than even Philadelphia. Rates are per 100 students.

York City School District serves just 8% of York County’s student enrollment yet accounts for:

  • 80% of the county’s simple assaults on staff
  • 87% of the county’s simple assaults on students
  • 74% of the county’s school fighting reports

“These statistics are an alarming indicator that the status quo is failing York City families and students,” Paul said. “This is yet another piece of the mounting evidence that a new direction is the best approach for York City schools. Yet with proven school choice options like charter schools taken ‘off the table’ by Gov. Wolf according to former Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley, it’s unlikely that significant change will occur.”

More Funding not a Solution

In the wake of Meckley’s resignation, Gov. Wolf touted an additional $5.6 million in funding to bring York City School District back from “the brink of financial collapse.” Yet York City already receives 57 percent of its funding from state taxpayers and spends $15,300 per student—$700 more than the state average.

Paul continued:

“Gov. Wolf is proposing more of the same stale solutions: more spending, primarily financed by state taxpayers. There’s no reason to believe this will lead to better performing, higher-achieving schools.

“In Philadelphia, which faces similar struggles with academic performance and school violence, charter schools have become a refuge for about one-third of student enrollment. Even so, tens of thousands sit on waiting lists for the opportunity to attend a school of choice. Clearly, parents value choice in education above and beyond simple dollars and cents.

“Wolf’s dismissal of charter schools to improve York City School District arbitrarily takes such options away from York City families.”

James Paul is available for comment today. Please contact us at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.

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For more information, please contact or director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].

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