Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced Thursday he supports the application of Key Charter School to open a school in the former Bishop McDevitt site to help stimulate reform in Harrisburg schools and to provide parents a choice in education for their children.
“I believe in parental choice as an essential component of educational reform,” said Mayor Papenfuse. “The proposal from Key Charter provides the highest and best use I have seen for the former Bishop McDevitt building and would be a positive development for the city.”
Mayor Papenfuse said serious problems persist in the Harrisburg School District and, despite isolated successes such as the Math Science Academy, many schools are failing to provide adequate educational opportunities for Harrisburg youth. The Mayor said he recently met with Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq to express his alarm at the lack of progress in improving academic standards across all of Harrisburg’s public schools.
“I asked Secretary Dumaresq to replace Gene Veno as Recovery Officer for the Harrisburg School District to bring more energy and a new vision to reinvigorate our schools,” Mayor Papenfuse said. “My concern is that Mr. Veno does not believe Harrisburg schools will meet academic benchmarks under the plan he devised. This is unacceptable and compromises the future of our children.”
Mayor Papenfuse said parents should demand results and a Recovery Officer who can work collaboratively with the Harrisburg Superintendent and school board to lift academic standards.
“I support the Superintendent and the School Board, but we need a Recovery Officer who is confident about how to solve the problems and can help them move forward,” he said.
Mayor Papenfuse said the city can no longer afford to be patient in the face of under-performing schools.
“Just as the City of Harrisburg had two Receivers at different points in its road to recovery, Harrisburg schools need a new Recovery Officer with a more optimistic vision and stronger capabilities in educational reform,” he said.
“There should be a sense of urgency about these under-performing schools,” Mayor Papenfuse said, “and parents ought to have other possibilities to ensure their children are well educated and ready for the workplace. Harrisburg’s economic recovery won’t succeed unless we have an educated workforce ready to claim the jobs that will be created.”