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Reading School Board passes budget in the face of deadline

Published On: Jun 28 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 28 2013 10:55:50 PM CDT

Reading School Board passes budget in the face of deadline

READING, Pa. -

It was a rough night for the Reading school board as its members raced against the clock to pass its budget by deadline.

The meeting, held inside Reading High School, Friday night, was plagued by confusion over what some members called unclear language in the budget.

Terms like "furlough," were used to actually mean "layoffs."

At times board members repeatedly said they were not sure what they were voting on due to the confusing language and other misunderstandings.

"Maybe if we come up with a language that we can all follow along with please," said board director, William Cinfici.

At times, simply communicating was a challenge.

A phone was placed in the middle of the auditorium's stage so that two board members, one who was on vacation in the Caribbean, and the other recovering at home, according to officials, could participate via conference call.

But at times the speaker phone just wasn't clear enough, and pivotal information had to be read over again.

More frustration mounted as the night progressed and the numbers just didn't seem to add up.

The board quickly went into a closed door session leaving some parents baffled.

"We expected to be more organized. I expected them to have their facts in order," said Eddie Moran, parent.

"I'm disappointed that I'll be spending several hours here this evening when this should have been completed," said Joanne Fleig, parent.

The board voted not to raise property taxes, but that was enough to throw things out of whack, and the numbers had to be crunched again.

"I have never been involved in such a dysfunctional organization, and such a poor process," said Robert Heebner, board member. "The kids of this district deserve a lot better. This was pathetic this time."

In the end, pre-K was eliminated, and since the final budget number came in higher than expected, more positions had to be eliminated.