The Truth about the Financial Crisis at York Suburban and What it Means for You

It’s time to have an honest conversation about York Suburban’s financial situation and its impact on our quality of education and local school taxes.

The question is not whether new leadership threatens our academic quality. That’s nothing more than politics as usual from decades-old entrenched political interests who will fight to protect business as usual on the School Board.

The question is, how much longer are we going to allow the controlling members of the School Board to dodge the fact that its financial irresponsibility has helped bring on this crisis.

Let’s start with a quick primer on the York Suburban school budget process. Every year, the process begins with a review of the estimated expenses needed for current programs and any changes recommended by the administration. Then, projected tax revenues are used to determine if there’s enough money to cover expenses.

What is important to remember is that by law, school districts like ours can only raise taxes by a certain amount yearly and are not permitted to carry deficits – meaning they can’t end up in the red.

Now, let’s get into the details of York Suburban’s budget crisis.  The budget for the current year began with a deficit of almost $3.5 million. To balance the budget (that is, to make revenues equal expenses), revenue estimates were increased by $2.2 million, including a 1.9% property tax increase, and expenses were cut by $1.3 million, including several hundred thousand dollars in cuts for our technology department and curriculum development. To be clear, this means the cuts to YS Excellence have already begun.

The York Suburban Business Office reported to the School Board that they were saved financially this year by federal Covid funds to the tune of $1.3 million. To be clear, without those one-time funds, the district’s tax revenue was not going to cover expenses even with a maximum tax increase. That means the education cuts would have been more severe this year.

On April 12, 2021, the controlling members of the School Board proposed redirecting tax dollars that were set aside to cover teacher pension obligations to close the Board’s deficits. This is contrary to the promise they made to taxpayers that these funds would be dedicated to minimizing tax increases when teacher pension payments fluctuated.

With $2 million deficits projected every year for the next 4 years and beyond, the district will face severe education cuts and staff furloughs according to the York Suburban Business Office.

Even with projected MAXIMUM tax increases allowed by law EVERY year, the Business Office still projects that the Board would completely deplete its “savings” and the deficit would grow to $8 million in just 4 years. And gets worse every after.

When School Boards can no longer balance their budgets as required by law, the state eventually takes over the school district’s finances and operations. This happened to the York City School District.  And since taking over that district, the politicians in Harrisburg have failed the students of York City.

For us, that means taxpayers’ bills max out but it does little to solve the financial problem. This also hurts the quality of our schools:  Teacher Furloughs. Higher Class Sizes.  Declining Academic Rankings. In the end, everyone experiences lower property values because the quality of education at York Suburban no longer matches the extremely high tax rate.

York Suburban taxpayers pay very high local school taxes in York County to support strong academics in our schools. But when the School Board’s leadership mismanages those tax dollars, accountability and new leadership is needed.

To be sure, this is a complex issue with several factors involved. For one, the state’s unfunded mandates and funding formula are a heavy burden on the budget.

But the Board has known about these financial constraints for many many years and has failed to live responsibly within them.

These are not political attacks or allegations. This is the reality as spelled out by the York Suburban Business Office.

You do not have take our word for it…

The York Suburban Business Office said, “And we can go on and on about how unfair that is to our local taxpayers and the lack of support we’re receiving from the state, but ultimately, it is our responsibility to put a budget together that is fiscally responsible not only for today, but also for the long-term.”

Respectfully, our opponents represent decades-long tenure on the Board.  The current Board regime has ignored the problem for too long and as a result the dire consequences of the crisis are now upon us.

If we’re going to avert the eventual state takeover of the York Suburban School District, it’s going to take cooperation and collaboration between the School Board, School Administration, parents and the community.

We can’t trust those who got us here to lead us out.  We need a new generation of leadership to get us out of their mess.


If you’re a Taxpayer – Maximum tax increases every year and lower property values.

If you’re a Parent – Elimination of academic programs. Teacher furloughs. Larger class sizes.

For All of Us – When School Boards can no longer balance their budgets as required by law, the state eventually takes over the school district’s finances and operations.

That means Harrisburg politicians will pick an outsider to make financial decisions impacting our kids and taxpayers.