EDUCATION
01/04/2013 02:44 pm ET

Reading School District Millions Short Due To Auditing Error, Payroll Jeopardized

Pennsylvania's Reading school district is facing a $11 to $15 million shortfall due to an auditing error, potentially leaving thousands of school staff and educators without paychecks come March, 69 News reports.

The specifics of the auditing error are unclear, but a special meeting is scheduled for Monday for board members "to address the issues," according to the station.

Reading was considered the poorest city in the country last year, and the district was set to entirely lose its pre-kindergarten program until the state provided funds to save it. Facing a $40 million budget deficit, Reading's school board also cut back on special courses, furloughed teachers and laid off more than 110 educators.

Now, the district has 13 percent fewer teachers on its payroll and furloughed rehires are teaching subjects outside their realms of expertise, a Huffington Post investigation found. Vocational and technology classes ceased to exist, fewer security guards now patrol campuses and pre-kindergarten capacity is half what it once was.

The school system has also seen significant turnover, perhaps contributing to inconsistencies and exposing the district's operations to greater risk of error. Four superintendents have cycled through Reading in the last three years, and the school board fired all its central managers last spring, leaving for months just one district administrator -- the head of human resources.

"At face value, it looks like somebody dropped the ball," Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, a longtime teacher, told The Huffington Post in October. "But I can't say whose fault that is."

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