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Duquesne board OKs recovery chief Long

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 5:37 a.m.

Duquesne City School District's elected board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution to cooperate with a state-appointed chief recovery officer shortly after he introduced himself at Thursday night's meeting.

“We're still a school district. We're still in business,” said Paul B. Long, who was appointed chief recovery officer on Nov. 16 by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis.

Long worked from 1999-2011 in various administrative functions in the Pennsbury district in Bucks County. He's a McKees Rocks native who later lived in North Fayette Township and went to school in the North Hills.

School director Burton Comensky made the motion to work with Long. Director Maxine Thomas and board President DeWayne Tucker were absent.

“I voted to give the man a chance,” Comensky said. “I think we're going to work with this guy pretty well. I really do.”

Long has 30 days from the time of his appointment by the state — or until Dec. 16 — to develop a financial recovery plan for the school district. The board is expected to take action regarding the plan by Dec. 30. Those deadlines could be extended with Tomalis' approval.

“It's not going to be a magic-wand approach,” Long said. “It's not going to be a dictatorial approach. It needs to be and has to be a collaborative effort.”

“Mr. Long has told us he will take our input, discuss things with us,” Comensky said. “Slowly we're going to be able to become a district again if the state's going to allow us to remain a district. We don't know what's going to come down at the end.”

Long is forming an advisory council — also required under Act 141 — that is open to Duquesne parents, taxpayers and employees.

He said he hopes the council will have 15-20 members who will represent a broad range of stakeholders in the district.

“Duquesne City's a proud community that feels very good about the traditions of education (and) achievement here,” Long said. “Some measures have waned in the last few years, and I see the same people really ready to get up and get going and do something about that.”

Volunteers for the panel can contact Long at or via mail to Duquesne Education Center, 300 Kennedy Ave., Duquesne, 15110. Applicants are asked to provide their name, address, telephone number and relationship to the district.

In other matters Thursday night, the board failed to fill the seat vacated by former school director Connie Lucas. Lucas resigned earlier this year to devote more time to trying to start a Duquesne charter school.

A motion to appoint resident Theresa Thomas to the board failed 4-2. Five affirmative votes were necessary for the appointment.

School directors Cedreic Robertson, Rosia Reid, Laura Elmore and Vice President Calvina Harris voted in favor of Thomas. Comensky and director Sonya Chambers dissented.

Comensky said he did not know Thomas, and wanted someone with a lot of business experience appointed to the board.

A new board member could be named at a special meeting Tuesday following a reorganization meeting that evening.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or