CASD – Board addresses curriculum, audit and equality

Eyes a future of positive change for students, staff and community


By Lauren Parker- Gill, Staff Writer, The Times

CALN – The October meeting agenda for the Coatesville Area School District board, (CASD) was an especially busy one.  Highlights included Superintendent Dr. Cathy Taschner providing a presentation outlining the district’s accomplishments of the past 15 months, the board voting to continue with the next phase of the ongoing forensic audit, and taking time to address claims of racism and community questions regarding appropriate management of district funds.



Dr. Cathy Taschner provided a detailed overview of recent district accomplishments.

In response to recent criticisms from members of the Coatesville community, Taschner stated that since beginning her time at Coatesville, it has been her intention and the intention of the school board, to bring the focus back on students. Taschner’s presentation detailed a number of tangible accomplishments over the past year, as a way to inform the public and to also recognize those involved in the process of implementing them.

Accomplishments include the creation of new curriculum committees for K-12 math and language arts, health, physical education and art. The goal of these hands-on new committees is to closely review the existing curriculums, make recommendations for and implement new curriculums for both the district’s K-9 and K-12, students respectively. The committees are also providing teacher professional development, available in English & Spanish, and have presented workshops for district parents.

CASD now has an increased focus on literacy with a new summer reading program and a kindergarten ready to read initiative. The Air Force Junior ROTC was reinstated. Professional Development for Special Education Teachers was provided for the developmental reading assessment and for the use of the DSA.

Under the category of organizational leadership, a policy committee has been created, with a public input forum. Job descriptions were reviewed and revived, unauthorized salary increases were investigated and administrative regulations were created. A process to seek bids for purchasing materials has now been established and has provided significant savings to the district.

The district has implemented significant technology upgrades with a new wireless system, new uninterruptible power supply systems, teachers have been provided new laptops and students have new computers. A new phone system has been installed that provides the district with many upgraded options, such as cloud hosting, video conferencing and conference calling.

The school board requested that Taschner’s power point presentation be posted on the website so the public can see the ‘lengthy list’ of accomplishments of the board.

Phase one of the forensic audit conducted by auditing firm EisnerAmper has been completed. According to school board president, Dean Snyder, the EisnerAmper has requested to continue the investigation by moving on to phase two, not to exceed $50,000.CASDBoard1

The school board approved continuing with the next phase of the forensic audit and also addressed the public regarding accusations of racism and proper management of funds. Taschner explained that the next auditing phase will take place over three months, and the board will have opportunities to review the findings each month, per the agreement with EisnerAmper. This allows the school board an opportunity to stop the investigation during the monthly check-ins, if warranted.

Board member, Michele Maffei said, “This is serious to me, I’m not going to be a part of what other boards did. Where they didn’t pay attention and walked away…I think it’s time to understand what is going on and to dig deeper,”

Though Diane Brownfield stated she could see both sides of the audit issue, she explained why she felt compelled to move forward with the second phase, “The same concerns keep coming up about our finances and our processes, we need to get to the bottom as far as we can. Timing is important, time has passed and as more time continues to pass, it’s going to be more difficult to continue with this process.” Brownfield said.

Prior to the meeting, Ann Wuertz reached out to members of the public in her region to see what they thought regarding continuing the investigation.

“The common thread was that we need to recognize where the problems were, so this does not happen again in this district. We need to put this to bed and we need to move forward,” Wuertz said.

James Hills stated that the first phase of the audit didn’t reveal any new information: “If we keep looking backward, we’re never going to move forward.” Hills stated.

Greg Wynn responded by saying, “There are many people in this room, before I was on the board, who I marched with and questioned the finances with…I’m still on the same path I always was; I want to find out what’s going on. You’ve changed, I haven’t.”

The school board approved the motion to spend $50,000 with EisnerAmper and continue with the next phase of the audit, though Hills voted against it.

Public comment included community member Fonz Newsuan. Newsuan, at a previous meeting, raised concerns of racial equality among district employees and questioned the way funds are being spent.

Maffei directly addressed a video that was posted online in which school board members were called racists, “It’s a shame that this person continues negative publicity for no reason, for this board. We have done nothing but do the best we can, to improve these children’s lives.”

Maffei also stated that she commends fellow board members because although they do not always agree, they do work together, which is better than previous years with previous school boards.

“We have some people who seem to have a very loose relationship with facts. Big on opinion, big on little snippets but who do not want to do the hard work to learn the facts,” board vice president Stuart Deets echoed.

Deets explained that school board members are often limited in what they can legally say, even as accusations are being made directly to them, during public comment.

“I know this isn’t the platform for it, but I openly profess that I am a Christian and I serve a god that is not racist … I will not vote one-sided. I’m going to stand on right,” said Deborah Thompson.

Thompson went on to say that school districts are typically structured as kingdoms, with the superintendent being the king or queen, the school board and administrators are part of the court and the community members are peasants because they are the taxpayers. “It shouldn’t be that way…it should be run as a company with the community as the stockholders. We are trying to redefine that.”

In other district news, a Title 1 grant was approved to allow after-school tutoring for one-hour with transportation, at CASD schools that qualify for Title 1 funding. Tutoring opportunities at other schools are being explored though these would not be funded through the Title 1 grant.

Craig Bramble, director of facilities, gave a power point presentation with pictures of the painting issues at Caln Elementary, which provided an explanation for the district withholding payment for the painting services until corrections were made. The issues presented included paint peeling in some areas of the hallway and an access panel that needed to be repainted. The painter has since repaired all issues and all payments have been made.

An update to the Reeceville Roof project was given and is approximately 75 percent complete. Bramble believes it will be complete within two to three weeks.

The Chester County Health Department has begun their yearly inspection of sanitary conditions at schools, and the facilities department will be addressing their reports as they are provided. One recommended modification has already been made to a boys’ bathroom at East Fallowfield Elementary; urinals are no longer able to be viewed by a passerby walking in the hallway.

To view Dr. Cathy Taschner’s presentation, the 2015/2016 board meeting schedule and copies of meeting minutes, please visit:








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