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Reading School District optimistic in superintendent search

By Leah Fleischel, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 30 2014 11:02:18 PM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2014 07:50:06 AM CDT
Reading School Board voting meeting
READING, Pa. -

Reading School District is making progress since the Berks County Intermediate Unit came to its aid months ago by taking over management.

 With a new grasp on the financial situation and a promising superintendent search, the district is able to begin to refocus on positive things for the students, such as a long-awaited playground coming to 16th & Haak Elementary School.

“We need to keep the momentum going. There are great things coming to Reading School District,” said Rebecca Acosta, president of the Reading School District Board, in closing remarks following the meeting.

Superintendent search moving along

According to Dr. John George, acting superintendent of the Reading School District, the search for a new superintendent, headed by BCIU, is moving along according to plan.

The process began on March 5 with an April 14 application deadline.

Currently, the board is narrowing down applicants to finalists and is in the interview process, with hopes of making a decision by July 1.

2013-14 budget up-to-date, questions arise for 2014-15

Progress may be good in Reading as the district has up-to-date financials for the current year, but less than favorable news came out of Harrisburg regarding state funding.

Reports show that the revenue for schools in Pennsylvania, looking at 2014-15 budgets, is down from what was projected, as the state has less money than the additional $4.2 million that was originally proposed by Governor Tom Corbett.

As such, districts need to know soon how much of this amount they can depend on and decisions must also be made about property tax increases.

George noted the district is highly dependent on the state, and a tax increase that could potentially translate to a maximum of $800,000 should be considered while trying to keep amounts within reach for citizens of Reading.

He also said the PA Senate has a committee reviewing a bill that would exchange school property taxes with higher sales and income taxes, and that could also provide some answers.

A scheduled budget workshop will take place within the next few weeks.

Approval of the first reading of Policy 140, charter schools

Though there were no objections to the approval of the first non-binding reading of Policy 140 on charter schools, there was much preliminary debate about additions board members would like to see included in future drafts.

Main amendments to the policy were items that discussed communication with the district, such as notification of location and transportation services if the school is not in session.

The reading will be given to members with recommendations expected by May 19.