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Duquesne to decide on new officer

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 5:32 a.m.

Duquesne City School District's elected board will decide at a special meeting if it will accept Paul B. Long as chief recovery officer.

The district announced Wednesday that the board will convene Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Duquesne Education Center auditorium.

In addition to a decision about Long, a former North Allegheny and Pennsbury administrator appointed by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis to the Duquesne post, directors will fill a board vacancy created when Connie Lucas resigned.

The board is scheduled to reorganize Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., but that will be more than 14 days after Long's appointment and beyond the time frame mandated by state Act 141 for the board to act.

If the board rejects Long, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court will decide, as per Act 141.

Presuming that Long will be accepted, the district posted on its website that he is forming an advisory council — also required under Act 141 — that is open to Duquesne parents, taxpayers and employees.

The district said it hopes the council will have “about 20 members who will represent a broad range of stakeholders in the Duquesne community.”

The web post said Long will have regular meetings to exchange information.

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 name, address, telephone number and relationship to the district.

Lucas resigned to devote more time to trying to start a Duquesne charter school.

She is working with Duquesne native Kenneth H. Leftwich, an educator who now lives in Greensboro, N.C.

In the first of two applications filed for the charter school, Lucas and Leftwich said they aspire to return Duquesne's schools to the point where “several decades ago ... (they) led the Mon Valley in academic excellence.”

The first application was dissected by Duquesne's acting superintendent Paul J. Rach, who found more than 100 problems with it.

The second application died for lack of action by the Board of Control. Lucas said she would go to the state Charter School Appeal Board.

In 2007 that panel rejected Propel's appeal of its plan for a charter school in the city.

Lucas has the support of a majority on the elected school board but is opposed by at least one of her former colleagues, Burton Comensky, who said the cost of a charter school would be “extremely prohibitive.”

In addition to the reorganization of the elected board, the Dec. 4 meeting is slated to deal with a proposed settlement involving school police.

The elected board did not meet often during the state-appointed Board of Control's 12-year tenure, which ended when the BOC decided not to appeal a preliminary declaration of financial recovery by Tomalis.

That was followed by a final declaration and Long's appointment on Nov. 16.

The elected board last met on June 26, when school directors and the BOC heard PNC Bank's recommendation that the bank lend money to the district at 2.65 percent interest to erase a $6.49 million bond issue.

Bank officials said that would mean a savings of $261,000 to the district, about twice what was promised when the two boards gave PNC the green light to refinance the bonds a year ago.

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