HARRISBURG, May 3, 2013 – Three of Berks County’s leading Democratic state lawmakers today welcomed Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s findings of the operation of the Reading School District.
Sen. Judy Schwank and Reps. Tom Caltagirone and Mark Rozzi said the findings, troubling as they continue to be, show that substantial and meaningful change needs to happen now in Reading.
“Unfortunately, mismanagement continues to be as much a part of the Reading School District as reading, writing and arithmetic,” said Caltagirone (D-Reading). “Our kids – the students who walk the halls of every Reading School District elementary, middle, intermediate unit, and high school – must return to be the central focus of how this district performs beginning today.”
“The fact that the auditor general, who is Pennsylvania’s independent watchdog, is pointing to the further evidence of insufficient governance policies is more evidence that the Reading School District needs to get its act together and the board needs to get down to working for the best interests of the children,” Schwank (D-Ruscombmanor Twp.) said.
“Without immediate and lasting change, the Reading School District will cement a reputation that will last generations,” Rozzi (D-Muhlenberg Twp.) said. “That’s very bad news for our children. I strongly implore the school board and the administration to work together like they’ve never worked together before.”
DePasquale’s findings that Reading remains mired in an unending cycle of lapsed teacher certificates, insufficient internal controls and other problems are similar to an audit conducted a year ago by the auditor general’s office.
In January 2012, then-Auditor General Jack Wagner found 14 teachers had been working with improper certification; the district did not properly account or retain records for grant receipts and expenditures; and weaknesses in vendor computer databases could allow for unauthorized changes that could not be tracked.
The district is on the state’s “financial watch” list due to overwhelming deficits in 2012-’13 ($40 million) and in the upcoming fiscal year ($8 million).