The Duquesne City school board voted unanimously to cooperate with chief recovery officer Paul B. Long, who was named by the state to develop a financial recovery plan for the district.
The elected board resumed power for the first time in Duquesne since October 2000 under the authority of the new Financial Recovery Act, approved by the state legislature in June. For the previous dozen years the district was managed by a three-member state board of control.
Mr. Long now has until Dec. 16 to come up with a financial recovery plan for the district, which currently sends its students in grades 7-12 to either East Allegheny or West Mifflin Area school districts and educates students in grades K-6 in the Duquesne Education Center.
Six members of the elected board attended Tuesday's meeting. Two were absent, including president DeWayne Tucker, who was ill, and there remains one vacancy on the board. School directors couldn't garner the five necessary votes to fill the vacancy .
Mr. Long said he will hold four community workshop sessions to gather input on the district's future. In addition, he is forming an advisory committee of interested stake holders to work with him. "This is not going to be a magic wand approach. This is not going to be a dictatorial approach," Mr. Long said.
Mr. Long, a retired Naval commander and public school administrator, said he may request an extension to the Dec. 16 deadline since the holiday season may make it difficult to schedule the workshops.
He offered little in the way of details about what he may have in mind for his plan, but the financial recovery legislation allows chief recovery officers to take drastic measures including reorganizing a school or district, including converting schools to charter schools, bringing in charter or private management or sending students to neighboring districts on a tuition basis.
Duquesne is one of four districts in the state currently targeted by the financial recovery legislation. The others are Chester-Upland, Harrisburg and York. The Chester Upland board rejected the financial recovery plan created by its chief recovery officer and the matter is now headed to court, a move that is called for in the state legislation.
The York and Harrisburg districts asked for hearings before Mr. Tomalis to contest their financial recovery designation. The secretary is still considering their cases.
When Mr. Long presents a financial recovery plan, the Duquesne board can accept or reject it. If accepted, it goes into effect immediately. If rejected, the state will look to Common Pleas Court to appoint a receiver for the district to carry out the plan.
Mary Niederberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1590.