Education A State Capitals Roundup

Pa. Secretary to Step Down

By Robert C. Johnston — June 21, 2005 1 min read

After less than one year on the job, Francis V. Barnes will step down as Pennsylvania’s secretary of education, Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced last week. His resignation will take effect the first week of September.

Gov. Rendell tapped Mr. Barnes for the office last August. Mr. Barnes was the first African-American to hold the post in Pennsylvania. He replaced Vicki Phillips, who left to become the superintendent of the Portland, Ore., schools.

Mr. Barnes will return to the post he held before becoming secretary, as the superintendent of the 2,200-student Palisades school district in eastern Pennsylvania, the governor announced June 13. Deputy Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak will serve as the acting secretary.

Neither the governor nor Mr. Barnes elaborated on the reason for the secretary’s departure, though Mr. Barnes did not actively campaign for one of Mr. Rendell’s high-priority goals: getting local school boards to sign on to Pennsylvania’s Act 72 and take state gambling revenue as part of a plan to lower property taxes.

Most boards did not choose the plan, frustrating the first-term governor.