State names new recovery officer for Harrisburg schools

     This is the second state-supervised school district to get a new liaison since Gov. Tom Wolf took office.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Education has picked a 40-year educator to oversee its intervention in Harrisburg School District.

    PDE announced Monday that Audrey Utley will take over by the end of July as chief recovery officer in Harrisburg, one of four public districts designated as “distressed” by the state.

    Utley was once an acting superintendent in Harrisburg. She also taught elementary school in Steelton and was an administrator there and in Middletown.

    PDE has established receiverships (a more intense, restrictive form of supervision) through its Act 141 program for distressed schools in York, Duquesne and Chester-Upland.

    Paul Long remains Duquesne’s receiver.

    The state needs to replace Chester-Upland receiver Joe Watkins, who departed last week.

    PDE didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday regarding the status of that search.

    York’s new receiver Carol Saylor started in April.

    Both Saylor and Utley spent decades as teachers and administrators in Pennsylvania public schools. Utley replaces lobbyist Gene Veno in Harrisburg. Saylor succeeds financial planner David Meckley.

    Meckley’s attempt to charterize the district against the school board’s wishes sparked controversy last year.

    The Commonwealth’s Act 141 bases distress designations on fiscal factors, but improvement plans involve academic benchmarks in addition to financial goals.

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