Educator who worked briefly in Philly district tapped to replace departing Pa. education chief

    Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis plans to step down at the end of the month.

    Gov. Tom Corbett will nominate as his replacement William Harner, superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District in Mechanicsburg. Harner also served briefly as a special assistant to Paul Vallas in the Philadelphia School District.


    Tomalis will take a newly created position as an assistant to the governor on higher education.

    Jim Buckheit, head of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, says the outgoing secretary has been accessible when it comes to explaining the governor’s education policy agenda – – but the to-do list has not always had the buy-in of educators.

    “Secretary Tomalis has really led the department during a very challenging period where there have been reductions in funding to schools and some major state initiatives that have really driven some major change now and changes that will take place in the future,” he said.

    Some say the turnover comes at a time when the governor’s office is trying to change the way its policies are received by educators and parents.

    Tomalis’ career has included stints in forming education policy — he has not worked in a school district himself.

    Harner’s career in education comprises a string of jobs running schools and school districts — including as a deputy superintendent of Philadelphia schools and an administrator in a specially created New Orleans school district.

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