Reading School Board Meeting Devolves Into Shouting Match

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It didn’t take long for the newest incarnation of the Reading School Board to spectacularly explode.

There were accusations and gavel banging. There were angrily mumbled threats. And there was a whole lot of screaming and yelling.

What started as a welcoming of the board’s newest members Monday night quickly devolved into a heated shouting match, pitting newly elected board president Rebecca Acosta versus long-time board member Karen H. McCree.

The tinder was set early during the board’s annual re-organizational meeting, with McCree questioning the two presidential candidates – Acosta and incumbent president Pierre V. Cooper – about their leadership experience and plans for the future.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131203/NEWS/312039892#.Up5IVLB3uM8

Reading School Board Fires Its Superintendent

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Who didn’t see this coming?  “Indefinite sick leave…”  What a hot mess.

The short but rocky relationship between the Reading School Board and superintendent Dr. Carlinda Purcell has come to an end.

The board voted Tuesday night to fire Purcell, effective today. Substitute superintendent Karen B. Gokay will take over as acting superintendent.

Purcell is in the second year of a five-year contract. She was paid $175,000 annually.

The board ousted Purcell by a 6-3 vote. Rebecca Acosta, Isamac-Torres Figueroa and Robert Heebner voted no.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520360

Reading Police Pulled From The Citadel

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City police officers have been pulled from their stations at the Reading Citadel intermediate high school while the school district figures out how it’s going to come up with the money to pay for them, district officials said Wednesday.

“We don’t have coverage in the building,” school board President Pierre V. Cooper told fellow board members at the end of their meeting.

“The police are circling and in the area, and they can be there at a moment’s notice,” Cooper said.  “But they are not in the building.”

The two officers stationed at the Citadel, who also serve the high school, were at the school for the first day but were reassigned to regular city patrols later in the week, Dr. Carlinda Purcell, superintendent, said after the meeting.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=505051

Albert Boscov: Reading School Board Should Honor 2006 Tax Deal

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We ask the members of the school board not the be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Do the right thing for Reading’s revitalization.  Honor the deal!

Albert Boscov wants the Reading School District to hold up its part of the deal.

Back in 2006, Reading School Board members – along with city and county officials – agreed to a plan to reduce property taxes for the then-proposed GoggleWorks Apartments.  But now that the complex at Second and Washington streets is open, a problem has popped up.

It turns out, Our City Reading, which spearheaded the project, never officially finalized the tax deals.

Boscov has met with school district, city and county officials in hopes of getting current officials to sign off on the tax breaks their predecessors agreed to.  He attended Monday night’s Reading School Board meeting to reiterate his plea.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=494614

Reading School Board Confirms Suspension Of Superintendent

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Carlinda Purcell, superintendent of the Reading School District, wasn’t at work last week.

She wasn’t sick, and she wasn’t enjoying a vacation.

Instead, Purcell was serving a five-day unpaid suspension handed down by the Reading School Board.

The board voted 7-1 on Tuesday night to retroactively approve the suspension, with Robert F. Heebner Jr. voting no.  Yvonne L. Stroman was absent.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=493521

Labor Board Sides With Reading Teachers: District Negotiators Had Conflict

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of the city’s teachers union in a claim against the Reading School District.

The Reading Education Association had filed an unfair labor practice in February 2012, claiming two board members formerly on the district’s negotiation team should be removed.

The union claimed that Karen H. McCree should be barred from negotiations because she is a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Reading union’s parent organization.  McCree works for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

Robert F. Heebner Jr. should be taken off the negotiation team, the union claimed, because as a former Reading teacher he was a member of the Reading Education Association.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=481952

Budget Presentation Disappoints Reading School Board

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The third time was not the charm.

The Reading School Board held its third budget workshop Wednesday night, and for the third time board members were disappointed.

It wasn’t because of the scope of proposed cuts needed to close a more than $8-million budget gap, but rather because of the lack of information. Again.

Administrators provided the board with a list of proposed changes – ranging from trying to bring some outsourced special education services back to cutting assistant principals from 12-month to 10-month employees – but did not provide a comprehensive plan to balance the budget.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=476031

State Auditor General Rips Reading School District

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They very well may be the worst accounting practices in the state.

That was Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale‘s assessment of the financial situation in the Reading School District, which he shared during a press conference Friday in Reading.

“To be direct,” he said, “the Reading School District has failed its students, failed the children of Reading.  It has failed the taxpayers.”

DePasquale was in the city to release the findings of a major audit his department did on the school district.  The audit was the result of requests by local legislators to investigate the district following the discovery of a more than $15 million accounting error in December.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=474980

Retired Teacher Named President Of Reading School Board

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former Marine Corps sergeant was named to lead the Reading School Board through turbulent times at Monday’s annual reorganization meeting.

Robert F. Heebner Jr., 63, a retired teacher and longtime swimming coach, was named president of the board by a slim one-vote margin that reflected ongoing division over the direction of Berks County’s largest school system.

Heebner, who had been vice president, defeated Pierre V. Cooper in a 5-4 vote.

Lining up behind Heebner were Frank D. Denbowski, Isamac Torres-Figueroa, Rebecca Acosta and Harry P. Storch Jr.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432952

Reading School District Officials Summoned To Harrisburg

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state secretary of education called Reading School District officials to Harrisburg on Thursday to determine if the situation in the district is as bad as it appeared in a three-part Reading Eagle series.

Although it is rare for a school board to be called to Harrisburg to address budget and other problems, board member Pierre V. Cooper and state Sen. Judy Schwank, who were at the meeting, said the board was not called on the carpet.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Cooper said Friday. “They (Education Department officials) asked about things they read in the newspaper and about what progress we are making on the budget.”

Education Secretary Ron Tomalis declined to comment on the meeting.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=385756

Reading City Schools Finances Not So Dire, Officials Say

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The budget outlook in the Reading School District isn’t good, but it’s not quite as bad as originally advertised, district officials said Wednesday night.

The Reading School Board held a public budget meeting at Reading High School, providing the dozens of parents, teachers, students and others who attended an update on the 2012-13 budget and a chance to speak about potential cuts.

From the outset, administrators and board members challenged the picture painted by former administrators – eight of whom were fired two weeks ago – that the district is facing a $53 million budget shortfall.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=385317