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McKees Rocks native proposed as recovery officer for Duquesne schools

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 1:32 a.m.

The board chairman at a North Hills institution for the mentally handicapped has been proposed as Duquesne City School District's chief recovery officer.

State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said Friday that Paul B. Long “has the experience and proven track record of stellar financial management” for the job.

Long is chairman of the board of Verland, a Sewickley-based foundation whose network of community homes and services supports 230 individuals with intellectual disabilities, and in many cases physical challenges, too.

From 1999 until 2011 Long served in Bucks County's Pennsbury School District as business administrator, acting superintendent, and, for five years, chief executive officer.

Tomalis appointed Long in line with a declaration that Duquesne was a “severe financial recovery school district” under Act 141 of 2012.

“The annual debt service payment of the district exceeds the total collected in property and earned income tax, reflecting the district's inability to meet its long-term debt obligations without continued (state) financial support,” Tomalis noted.

Despite “extraordinary actions” such as elimination first of its senior high school in 2007 and its seventh and eighth grades this past summer, Tomalis wrote that Duquesne “continues to require substantial annual supplemental funding.”

Tomalis said that included state advances of $225,000 in June 2005, $1.9 million in July 2005 and again in July 2006, and $1.2 million in July 2007.

Under Act 141, the elected board has 14 days, or until Nov. 30, to accept Long, or Allegheny County Common Pleas Court will have to name a receiver for Duquesne.

If the board agrees, Long will have 30 days to develop a financial recovery plan.

The elected board was scheduled to hold a reorganization meeting Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. That was the next regularly-scheduled board meeting.

A Pennsbury district publication said Long “prioritized teaching and learning in a nurturing, safe, and cost-efficient environment.”

His achievements reportedly include “a structured process for development, approval, accomplishment and reporting of district-wide goals and objectives.”

That is the sort of role he may play in Duquesne.

“The chief recovery officer serves at the pleasure of the secretary of education and has the responsibility of developing, implementing and administering a financial recovery plan in the district, all in coordination with the Department of Education,” Tomalis wrote to Long.

That letter was copied to Francis Barnes, a special assistant to Tomalis who was the last chairman of Duquesne's 12-year-old, but now defunct, state-appointed Board of Control; district solicitor William Andrews; and DeWayne Tucker, president of the elected board.

Long, 63, is a McKees Rocks native who graduated from Shaler High School and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“His background in school finances and district administration, combined with his military experience, will benefit the local community,” Tomalis said.

Long served for 20 years in the Navy, rose to the rank of commander, and earned a master's degree in business administration and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

He received the Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal and achieved designation as a naval aviator and financial management subspecialist.

After leaving the Navy he began a career in school administration, first in North Allegheny School District, then Pennsbury.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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