Auditor general: Reading School District in danger of state takeover

Auditor general: Reading schools in danger of state takeover

READING, Pa. - The Reading School District is in danger of being taken over by the Pennsylvania Department of Education if its serious problems are not addressed, the state auditor general said Friday.

Eugene DePasquale followed up with the district Friday, six months after he released his scathing report in the hopes of helping get the district back on the right track.

"It is again not a pretty picture," said DePasquale, during a news conference.

DePasquale said the Reading School District has barely done anything to fix its dire situation in the past six months.

"They didn't know where $15 million was. That's insane. It's insane, and they have done nothing since we went public in May," the auditor general said.

In May, DePasquale made 17 recommendations to help assist the floundering district. Since then, the auditor general said the district has failed to address 11 of those recommendations. In particular, he said officials have done nothing to fix its management structure and to track its finances.

"The prior school board and prior administration did nothing to address those issues," DePasquale said.

"Why was nothing done?" 69 News asked school board president Rebecca Acosta.

"Well, I don't want to dwell on the past," she answered.

Acosta would not comment on why those recommendations were not met, but said she is now focused on the future and working with new school board members.

"We know that whatever was done in the past was not working, so we're moving in a new direction trying to implement new things," Acosta said.

On Tuesday, the district voted to partner up with the Berks County Intermediate Unit to help bring the district out of turmoil. DePasquale supported the move and said something had to change. Without help, DePasquale said the district is likely to be taken over by the state Department of Education.

"Realizing those difficiencies are having implications to the education of children, we have an obligation to step up and try and resolve that," said John George, executive director of BCIU.

The partnership with BCIU takes effect Monday and will last until the end of the school year.

The auditor general said there is no guarantee the partnership will work, but it's a step in the right direction.

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