Crestwood Superintendent To Resign From Post
Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Gorham wished his successor and the district well after he resigns later this week.
He has been on paid leave since Oct. 30 after a paperwork oversight kept some bus drivers from being fully certified and led the district to cancel classes for two days.
The school board received Gorham’s resignation and will act on it during a meeting set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m., board President Bill Jones said.
Jones said Christopher Gegaris, the director of operations who also has been on leave, will depart, too.
Joseph Rasmus will continue as acting superintendent, Jones said.
“We’ll evaluate everything. We’re not making any hasty decisions,” said Jones, who added that the board members will remain more involved in managing the district until they choose a permanent superintendent.
A review between the district and the state Auditor General’s Office found problems with paperwork for drivers, but raised other issues, Jones said. For example, instead of one person managing transportation, four people oversaw parts of transportation.
“There was never any check to say, ‘Hey did you finish this,’” Jones said.
Revelations about paperwork led Crestwood officials to cancel classes on Oct. 24 and 25, when Gorham said the district acted with caution to protect students.
In November, the board voided a long-term contract with Rinehimer Bus Lines just three months after it had approved a list of the company’s drivers unanimously.
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said responsibility for the paperwork of bus drivers ultimately rests with school administrators. He used Crestwood as an example to remind other districts to complete paperwork required by state rules.
“If you don’t do it, we’ll find out,” DePasquale said during a news conference Oct. 24.
On Tuesday, Gorham, in a statement sent by text message about his resignation, said: “I wish the next in line continued success as they navigate the ‘storm’ of public education.”
On April 5, 2018, when speaking to parents and taxpayers in a packed auditorium, Gorham described a storm of rising costs for special education, charter school reimbursements and pension payments that overwhelmed school budgets across Pennsylvania, including Crestwood.
Crestwood, which has the lowest tax rate in Luzerne County but whose students post among the highest scores on standardized tests, faced a dilemma of raising taxes or continuing deficit spending until its fund balance dried up, Gorham said.
On April 20, the school board voted to lay off four teachers even though most parents and taxpayers wanted to retain teachers and spoke against plans to build a field house at the football field.
In May, the board and teachers reached agreements to avoid layoffs and reduce a budget deficit. Also, the board scaled back plans for the field house, which wasn’t scrapped completely because the district already had paid to prepare ground for it.
Gorham in his statement pointed out that Crestwood cut $1 million from the budget through attrition and new contracts with vendors during his first year. He came to Crestwood in 2016 after serving as superintendent in Carbondale Area.
While the district lost its pre-K program under Gorham’s watch, Crestwood has helped students from kindergarten, where he said youngsters were reading at the highest rates in 14 years, to high school, where more students are attending college classes.
“As for me, there is a saying about life and lemons — time for me to get a new recipe,” Gorham said.
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