Coatesville high school

Coatesville Area Senior High School.

As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., debated whether to impeach President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 armed attack on the Capitol which left five citizens dead, one Chester County school board member is asking his school district to increase its teaching about the U.S. government and the nation’s history.

“Children are confused,” Henry Assetto, a member of the Coatesville Area school board, said during the remote Jan. 12 meeting. “Our democracy relies on an educated citizenry.”

Assetto’s request was followed by a separate plea from board member Tom Keech, who said Coatesville needs “some serious help” from the community as it financially struggles with how to fund its own public education program along with local charter schools as is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The school board is in the midst of a funding dispute with Collegium Charter School over $18 million in allegedly delinquent payments Collegium says it is owed for educating 2,312 Coatesville students.

In an apparent effort to resolve the dispute, board members unanimously approved paying Collegium by March 1 $5,400 it acknowledges it owes the school.

A preliminary injunction filed by Collegium against both Coatesville and state Department of Education is set to be heard in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg on Jan. 14.

Taking a preliminary look at the proposed 2021-22 budget, Business Manager Lori Diefenderfer said Coatesville projects $177,205,147 in expenses, but $176,667,458 in revenue. That leaves a budget gap of $537,689. In the next few months, the board will decide whether a tax increase is necessary.

In other business, the school board: accepted a $15,750 payment from Netflix and Backstreet Pictures LLC to repair the finish on the high school gym floor, which was damaged during filming of the film “Hustle” on Nov. 2; and approved a $38,775 service agreement with the Chester County Intermediate Unit so the CCIU may facilitate curriculum writing and review through September.

The school board also heard Maillie LLP present an 2019-20 audit with no findings and an unmodified opinion. The board also heard an overview of the comprehensive plan from Jason Palaia, director of educational services. The final plan will be presented Feb. 9, with school board adoption set for March.

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