Monday, June 4, 2012

Why did the Harrisburg School District give Harrisburg University over $13 million?

I think that's a pretty fair question. Particularly now that the Harrisburg School District is so strapped for cash that they decided to eliminated kindergarten. The Harrisburg School District is in deep financial trouble and has been for years. Sorta' makes you wonder why they gave Harrisburg University millions of $. Doesn't it?

Source: HU Bond Limited Offering Memorandum
 Source: HU Bond Limited Offering Memorandum
Many of you know that the Senator Piccola sponsored the Education Empowerment Act which ultimately put the finances in the hands of the Board of Control of the Harrisburg School District rather than an elected board. Guess who appointed members to the Control Board? If you said "Stephen Reed" then give yourself a high five! You might recognize a few members of the Board of Control, they include Calobe Jackson, Jr., Dr. Gerald Kohn and Les Ford. Two of those members where on the HU board of Trustees while the third had a spouse that was an HU trustee. So yes, members of the Control Board appointed by Stephen Reed gave millions of dollars to his pet project, even though the district was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.This is the same Board of Control that Senator Piccola criticized for wasting the school district's money on Stephen Reed's consultant friends. "This is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars..."said Piccola.

[CORRECTION 6/22 - By all accounts Les Ford and his wife Sheila Dow-Ford acted with honesty and integrity and where not part of Steve Reed's shenanigans. I got my facts wrong on this one. My sincerest apologies to the Fords.]

I'm not suggesting that anyone did anything illegal or inappropriate in this case, but I feel it warrants further investigation. Even considering that Harrisburg University was in a real estate deal with the Harrisburg School District regarding SciTech, it's still a lot of money flowing directly from the taxpayer to a private university under questionable circumstances.


  1. Easy explanation. There was an agreement reached between HU and HBG SD to send students who graduated from SciTech to HU tuition free. Most likely, these were payments to create an endowment for any student who would what to make use of this program.

  2. If HU was in control of an endowment fund from the Harrisburg School District, it would be listed in their financial records. To my knowledge, it is not. Even if that was the case, it would still be questionable in my mind. Does the Harrisburg School District give endowments to other private universities?

  3. I think the $8.25 million was to buy the SciTech building from HU. I can't explain the rest of the money though. HU's original mission was to help SciTech grads get a college education, but HU and the Harrisburg School District never worked well together. HU walked away from the deal but is obligated to offer free education to SCiTech grads. I don't believe that elected Harrisburg School officials ever voted to approve the HU deal. HU does NOT have a good relationship with the Harrisburg School District.

  4. The Harrisbug Elected Board was FORCED in June of 2006 to affirm an already defaulted loan for Harribdrg University per Interim Order by Dauphin County Judge Lawrence Clark:


    Defendants :
    : NO. 2006 CV 2489


    AND NOW, to wit, this 27th day of June, 2006, after hearing and argument in the above captioned matter and pursuant to the Court’s Opinion of even date herewith, IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that:

    1. The request of the Plaintiffs, in Quo Warranto, to remove Ms. Loretta Barbee-Dare, Ms. Kia L. Hansard and Mr. Karl Singleton from office as members of the Elected Board, is DENIED;

    2. The request of the Plaintiffs for a Preemptory Writ of Mandamus is DENIED;

    3. The Plaintiffs request for a Preliminary Injunction is hereby GRANTED. THEREFORE, THE COURT HEREBY ORDERS AND DIRECTS that the individual members of the Elected Board must fulfill their individual and collective statutory duty, as defined and clarified in the Interim Opinion, of even date herewith, to fund the fiscal obligations of the School District by enacting the necessary Resolution(s) to fully fund the 2006/2007 final School District budget as adopted by the Control Board, and to also enact such necessary Resolution(s) as may be required to affirm the Sovereign Bank debt. These required actions by the members of the Elected Board must be performed and completed on or before June 28, 2006;

    4. We further DENY the Elected Board and its members the right to automatically appeal these Rulings at Law or Equity without posting an appropriate Bond. Considering the overwhelming fiscal harm that may occur to the School District if there are protracted appeal proceedings which ultimately prove to be frivolous, the Elected Board and/or its members must post a Bond equal to a substantial portion of the annual School District budget, and in this instance, that sum shall be the full amount of One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000.00), paid into Court through the Prothonotary of Dauphin County;

    5. This Court specifically retains full jurisdiction over any issues associated with the implementation and/or enforcement of the holdings of the Interim Opinion and the directives of this Interim Decree;

    6. The Court will issue, in due course, a full Opinion and Decree concerning all matters and issues which have been submitted to us for resolution.


    /s/ Lawrence F. Clark, Jr. ____________________________________
    Lawrence F. Clark, Jr., Judge

    Carl P. Beard, Esquire, School Board Special Counsel,
    3366 Lynnwood Drive, Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602
    Brian P. Gabriel, Esquire, Control Board Special Counsel,
    555 Grant Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
    Nathan H. Waters, Jr. Esquire, Solicitor for the Harrisburg School District, 2101 North Front Street, Building 2, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110
    Carolyn C. Thompson, Esquire, Court Administrator
    Deborah S. Freeman, Esquire, Deputy Court Administrator-Civil
    Nativa P. Wood, Chief Court Reporter