Reading School Board Member Karen McCree Says She’ll Resign

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

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

Following a tumultuous reorganization meeting earlier in the week, longtime Reading School Board member Karen H. McCree has resigned from her position.
McCree said she submitted her resignation to board president Rebecca Acosta Wednesday. The school board released a statement about McCree’s resignation Friday.

Acosta and McCree have butted heads at recent public meetings. The tussle escalated to a heated shouting match at Monday’s reorganization meeting, when Acosta was named president.

McCree just began her 15th year as a member of the school board. Her last board meeting will be Dec. 18 and her resignation will take effect Jan. 3.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there have been some other reasons that I’ve decided that now is the time,” McCree said of her decision Friday.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131207/NEWS/312079964/1052#.UqNbcPSgnuI

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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 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

Reading School District’s Bond Rating Dropped

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

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

The Reading School District has faced some major financial challenges lately, and it’s not going unnoticed.

Citing budget struggles and a $15 million accounting mistake discovered last year, Moody’s Investors Service, a major credit-rating firm, has lowered two district bond ratings by two levels.

Moody’s announced last week the district’s underlying general obligation rating was lowered to Baa2 from A3, and its enhanced rating was lowered to A3 from A1.

The outlook for both ratings, a release from Moody’s says, is negative.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=502171

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

Reading School Board Uses Deep Staff Cuts To Balance Budget

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

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

The Reading School District‘s long and winding road to closing a more than $13 million gap in its 2013-14 budget has finally come to an end.
In a process fraught with frustrations, surprises and boiling tempers, the final act provided more of the same.

Apologizing to the staff, students and public for an experience they called “deficient,” “baffling” and “sad,” the Reading School Board approved the $213.6 million spending plan Friday night at the end of a 4 1/2-hour meeting.  But not without some fireworks first.

Coming into the night, the district was already faced with a more than $300,000 deficit after deciding Wednesday night not to cut kindergarten to half-day and not to raise the property tax from its current rate of 16.92 mills.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=489178

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

Art Draws Pennsylvania’s First Lady To Reading

High heels dug into the soft ground under the afternoon sun as Pennsylvania first lady Susan Corbett treaded with caution in a grassy lot off Beech Street in Reading.

On a building across from Opportunity House’s Second Street Learning Center, a multi-story mural, featuring painted plants and mosaic-tiled butterflies, gleamed in the sunlight.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” Gov. Tom Corbett’s wife said of the community mural, one of dozens installed in and around Reading in recent years.

Fresh from a morning press conference at a charter school for the arts in Bethlehem, Susan Corbett stopped in Reading to tour the learning center and view examples of the city’s community art.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=465178

State Puts Reading School District On ‘Financial Watch’

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

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

The state has officially labeled the Reading School District as being in “financial watch status,” a step away from state intervention.

The Department of Education announced Friday that the district has hit several financial-difficulty indicators in the Act 141 early warning system. Passed last year, Act 141 is the state’s law to help financially distressed school districts.

Four districts – Harrisburg, Duquesne, Chester-Upland and York – already have been placed in Act 141 financial recovery and have state-appointed recovery officers overseeing their finances, something Reading officials are hoping to avoid.

Dr. Carlinda Purcell, superintendent, said she sees the designation as a positive step toward dealing with the chronic financial struggles.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=460369

‘We Have To Do Better’

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City statistics showing that the once-declining number of violent crimes in Reading began to edge up in 2012 drew a variety of reactions Thursday from city, county and community leaders.

Most agreed the trend means it is even more pressing to work on the follow-up ideas coming from last week’s crime summit.

Released Wednesday, the statistics also show crime is less than it was a decade ago.

But that brought a warning: Don’t accept the situation as the city’s new normal.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=445862

Reading School District Security Chief Leaving

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Reading School District has lost its top security official.

Russell DelRosario, director of security, announced he’ll leave the district at the end of the week.  He will take over as director of security for Montgomery County Community College‘s west campus in Pottstown.

DelRosario, a 44-year-old former New York City police officer, was hired by the district in January 2010.

He said he feels he’s been able to accomplish a lot during his tenure to help improve safety in the district.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443731

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

A Promise To End Bus Mix-Ups In Reading School District

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

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

Editor’s note:  I am not filled with confidence after reading this.

In the wake of a week of busing mix-ups that left parents searching for their children, Reading School District officials are working on a new plan to make sure students get safely to where they’re supposed to be.

Dr. Carlinda Purcell, superintendent, said Friday that the district believes talks with the Berks County Intermediate Unit, which the district contracts with for busing, have resulted in a new plan that will fix the district’s transportation woes. Purcell said she hopes the plan will make the second week of the school year run smoother than the first.

“By the end of next week, all these issues will be resolved,” she said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=412577

6-Year-Old Missing For Hours After Bus Mix-Up

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

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

Editor’s note:  As the grandparent of a six-year-old granddaughter, this would send me about over the edge!  Many thanks to Reading Police Office Chevron Salata for finding Adriann.

For more than four terrifying hours, Brenda McMullen and her family were left to imagine the worst.

McMullen’s 6-year-old grandson, Adriann Flemming Jr., was missing on Wednesday.  And those who love the little boy had no idea where to find him.

The ordeal was the result of yet another Reading School District busing mistake, a problem that has plagued the district during the opening week of school.

In this instance, Adriann was put on the wrong bus after school at 16th & Haak Elementary School and taken to the wrong day care center.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=412488

Reading School District Seeks 14 Administrators; Teachers Union Upset

Just two days after passing a 2012-13 budget that laid off more than 200 employees, the Reading School District is looking to hire – and the teachers union isn’t very happy about it.

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

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipediaust two days after passing a 2012-13 budget that laid off more than 200 employees, the Reading School District is looking to hire – and the teachers union isn’t very happy about it.

In an email sent to staff Friday, the district announced that it is looking to fill 14 administrative positions. Some are existing positions currently vacant, while others are new.

But despite appearances, district officials said, the district is not opening up its budget to create new positions.

Calling the job listings a wish list for newly hired superintendent Dr. Carlinda Purcell, school board President Yvonne L. Stroman said only seven or eight of the positions will likely be filled when school begins this fall. Stroman said only positions included in the district’s $220 million budget – such as director of secondary education and director of special education – will be filled.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396900

State Senator Judy Schwank Says State Could Help Reading City Schools

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

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

Facing an overwhelming budget crisis, the Reading School District would accept help from the state, according to a local legislator.

State Sen. Judy Schwank on Tuesday sent a letter to Ron Tomalis, state secretary of education, in support of state assistance in preparing the district’s 2012-13 budget.

“It is my position that the school board directors cannot make the difficult decisions they must make in constructing the 2012-13 budget until they have full confidence in the accuracy of the current fiscal data for the district,” wrote Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat.

Representatives from the Department of Education were unavailable for comment.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=386455

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

8 Administrators Axed In Reading City Schools Purge

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

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

Editor’s note:  The drama continues!

The Reading School Board without warning Wednesday night fired eight top administrators, including the district’s acting superintendent.

The board voted 6-2 – with James Washington and Frank Denbowski voting no – to fire Dr. J. Drue Miles, acting superintendent.

The board then voted 5-3 – with Denbowski, Washington and Rebecca Acosta voting no – to fire Miles’ two assistant superintendents, the director of elementary education, the director of secondary education, the director of student services, and both the director and assistant director of special education.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=382193

New Reading City Schools Chief Says She’ll Listen First

Dr. Carlinda Purcell has a plan for the Reading School District – even if it’s not that obvious right off the bat.

The Reading School Board on Monday formally introduced Purcell as the district’s newest superintendent, gathering the media and a handful of local officials for a press conference at the district administration building.

Introducing Purcell, school board President Yvonne L. Stroman said it has been a long journey trying to find a new leader for the district, but the wait was well worth it.

“There is no doubt of her leadership, of her wealth of knowledge she brings to our district,” Stroman said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=378808