Meckley
Meckley

The man who will oversee York City School District's finances is a York County resident with a school board background.

David Meckley, a Spring Garden Township resident, was appointed by Department of Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis as the school district's Chief Recovery Officer.

It's a new role created by the state that will allow Meckley to guide York City schools through a new plan in how they will address their ongoing financial woes, which in recent years have included teacher layoffs, massive tax hikes, mid-year budget shortfalls that required borrowing from the state, and bleeding their surplus dry.

Meckley, a former York Suburban School Board member, is president and owner of Strategic Advantage Inc., which he founded in 2001. Meckley also is a former president and chief executive officer of Flinchbaugh Engineering Inc., and served on the Spring Garden Township Board of Commissioners.

The state announced Meckley's appointment on Wednesday afternoon at the same time it revealed York City is now in "moderate financial recovery status" that will keep it in state intervention until Meckley and the state are satisfied York City is out of financial duress.

But Meckley said he doesn't view the arrangement as a finger-wagging role.

"I don't in any way see it as a takeover," Meckley said. "I certainly want this to be a very cooperative venture."

School board president Margie Orr, whom Meckley has already spoken with along with Superintendent Deborah Wortham, said Wednesday she's ready to cooperate, as well. Orr did not indicate she would fight the state decision.

Still, it may seem like a state takeover. Meckley will have the authority to interview staff members, scrutinize budgets and make recommendations to do such moves as convert schools into charters or cut programs. The school board can decide against the plan Meckley and the district eventually propose, but eventually they'd face legal action if an agreement wasn't reached.

Meckley, though, said he's going into this as an opportunity for York City to get better and hopes everyone keeps an open mind. He's already done some of that work by volunteering with the York County Community Foundation, which has been doing its own research on how to help out the city schools.

Meckley also was involved in YorkCounts and its Metro-York initiative in past years when it analyzed the needs of York City - research that eventually led to YorkCounts helping to spearhead a new charter school. Meckley said his involvement then made it "clear at that time, and it continues to be clear to me, that York City and York City schools, are a very key part of the overall York community going forward."

"I don't think there's anything more important than an initiative going forward to improve the city schools," Meckley said.

He's meeting with district leadership early next week, and a timeline will be established soon. The public will be involved with community forums and an advisory board, he added.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com