Budget & Finance

New Education Secretary on Deck in Pennsylvania to Replace Tomalis

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 15, 2013 1 min read
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Reports that Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis is headed out the door appear to have been on the mark, as Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, announced today that he will nominate William Harner, the superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District, to replace Tomalis, the Associated Press reports. If confirmed by the state Senate, Harner would officially take over on June 1. Tomalis, meanwhile, apparently will move into an advisory role in Corbett’s administration, so he isn’t leaving the ship entirely.

A former Army officer, Harner has broad experience in education. He previously worked as a school administrator in Georgia, South Carolina, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, and he said that he grew up going to school in a district outside the City of Brotherly Love. Mr. Harner also attended the Superintendents Academy at the Broad Foundation in 2005 as a fellow, according to his biography at the Cumberland district and the foundation.

“In this role I’m going to do my best to make sure every district is a great district,” Harner said on May 15.

Corbett said that Harner, 56, would be an effective problem-solver, but didn’t flesh out the reason for the change.

“Those who have worked with him describe Dr. Harner as an accomplished student, born manager, and decisive leader who can carry out our agenda of educational
excellence in the face of any challenge,” Corbett said in a statement.

Tomalis recently has defended the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards. In the last year or so, he has also criticized both No Child Left Behind Act waivers for districts, and Race to the Top grants for districts. And he has had to preside over difficult budget circumstances in his own state, with Corbett cutting K-12 by $900 million two years ago.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.