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Harrisburg Schools recovery officer hosts first public forum - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

Harrisburg School District's recovery officer hosts public forum

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

The man put in charge of devising a recovery plan for the Harrisburg School District hosted his first public forum Tuesday night.

Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno presented some grim statistics about the district to a small crowd at John Harris High School.

"Expenditures per student ranks among the highest in the state," he said.

Veno then talked of poor academic performance and the losing of some 2,100 students over the last five years.

"We keep losing our students and as a result it's causing our budget to really go into a state of dire need," he said.

The district announced Monday night that it has an $11.7 million budget deficit.

"If we had $20 million in our budget we could do a lot," said School Board President Jennifer Smallwood. "But we're ready to get to work and get the problems solved."

Some of the residents that attended the forum wondered if the district was going to raise taxes again. But Veno said that no plan had been put together yet.

He said the process continues into finding a solution, which he said is going to take more than just money. His goal is to make the school district financially solvent again and to increase academic performance.

"As you see by the gentleman I brought in, Dr. Francis Barnes,  I am asking on his expertise to assist me in developing a sound educational program."

Under the state's recovery law, Veno is supposed to present a plan by March 12, unless he requests an extension.

"I believe we can get a solid plan of action in place by March 12th," he said.

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