Auditor General DePasquale Says Reading School District Cannot Overcome Its Monumental Problems AloneSupports Berks County Intermediate Unit assisting floundering district
Auditor General DePasquale Says Reading School District Cannot Overcome Its Monumental Problems Alone
Supports Berks County Intermediate Unit assisting floundering district
READING (Jan. 17, 2014) – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said today that without help, the Reading School District is likely to be taken over by the state Department of Education to address years of administrative turnover, declining academic performance, dwindling revenue, poor financial management and voids in leadership.
DePasquale was in Reading today to announce the results of a six-month follow-up to his performance audit that was critical of school operations.
“There has been minimal progress since we issued the audit report in May,” DePasquale said, noting that the district failed to address 11 of 17 recommendations essential to fix serious academic, financial and governance issues.
“Clearly, what the district was doing was not working. The problems are deep, deeper than the Reading School District can handle alone. There is no magical solution. This will take a concerted effort by the entire community — school board members, educators, business leaders, parents and taxpayers — to repair years of educational struggle.
“Dramatic shifts in top administrative positions continue to plague the district and may be impeding the district’s ability to rebound. The district has had five superintendents in eight years and recently lost its experienced business manager.
“I commend the new school board members and leaders for their willingness to try a new approach, and for recognizing that their administrative challenges are a significant hindrance to turning things around.
“Fortunately, there is a strong group of people who believe in the Reading School District and share the common goal of improving the education of children. Everyone wants the district to not just survive but to thrive and prosper,” DePasquale said.
DePasquale said he would rather have the hard choices made from within the community, but if things don’t improve, the state could takeover.
“The district has too many issues to address alone and students are being affected. I hope the IU can help the district get back on its feet so they can begin to take the first steps to recovery,” DePasquale said.
The Reading School District has 17,651 students, 1,173 teachers, 788 full-and-part time support personnel and 61 administrators. The district received $145.8 million in state funding in the 2011-12 school year.
The May 2013 audit report and follow-up report are available online at: www.PaAuditor.gov, “School Districts,” then “Access Latest Reports Online,” then “Berks County.”
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