The chances that the York City School District will solve its financial and academic problems through consolidation with another district got even slimmer at a meeting Wednesday night.
That's one of three official options being considered by a 20-person advisory committee and the district's chief recovery officer, David Meckley, who is charged with developing a plan after the state placed the district on moderate financial recovery status last year.
The other two options are converting the district to all charter schools or selecting an internal transformation method proposed by a team of teachers and administrators.
Those seemed to be the only viable options Wednesday after Meckley asked committee members who favored nixing consolidation. All but one person raised his or her hand.
However, Meckley said he still intends to send letters to officials of Central York, West York and York Suburban school districts about whether they'd be open for a discussion, as the committee earlier agreed to do.
Consolidation is not possible without the voluntary consent of a neighboring district, a scenario that hasn't occurred in Pennsylvania since the 1960s, according to research presented Wednesday by Public Financial Management, a firm hired to analyze the district's options.
Otherwise, a court would have to order it, according to the analysis.
The bulk of Wednesday's meeting was spent digesting a proposal from teachers and administrators who want to transform York City Schools from within.
On their to-do list: an expanded pre-kindergarten program, new alternative and special-education methods and the creation of "magnet schools."
That means a site-based management model, complete with local school councils and focus subjects for each building.
For example, they are proposing a performing-arts theme for Phineas Davis Elementary School and a science-math curriculum for Arthur W. Ferguson School.
In high school, the "magnet school" model would transition to academies like business and finance, health and wellness and arts and humanities.
Financially speaking, the district is proposing to realign benefits, reduce tuition reimbursement and restructure salaries and wages, among other ideas.
Other cost-cutting ideas include increased recycling and leasing vacant buildings.
Superintendent Deborah Wortham said the proposal reflects the intentions of No Child Left Behind.
"I believe the time is right - right now - for site-based management," she said.
The committee also got word Wednesday that Meckley will now have until April 17 to complete his "blueprint" for the district after getting an extension from the state.
The original deadline was this week, but Meckley had said all along an extension would be sought and that the state wants York City to get it right, rather than get it done fast.
The committee will host a public forum 6 p.m. Thursday at Martin Library, 159 E. Market St.
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.