The Chester Upland School District board of directors announced last week its search for a new acting superintendent has come to an end.
The school board appointed Levi Wingard, a 36-year Pennsylvania public school administrator and classroom teacher to the position. Wingard will start his position immediately.
Wingard will temporarily come out of retirement to lead the district and assist the board with national search for a permanent superintendent. His educational background is extensive. Most recently, Wingard served as superintendent of the Downingtown Area School District in Downingtown, Pa. Before that, he was the director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s research and development division.
“Dr. Wingard is a veteran educator who possesses both the knowledge base and the skill set to come into our school district during an active school year and hit the ground running,” said Wanda Mann, school board president. “In addition to overseeing the daily operation of the district, he will play a significant role in our national search for a highly capable permanent superintendent.”
Wingard will replace current acting superintendent Joyce Wells. The board recently announced that it must replace Wells and acting assistant superintendent Dexter Davis because of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s position on the limit they can serve in an “acting” capacity. In the upcoming weeks, the board expects a replacement for Davis.
Acting superintendents, and acting assistant superintendents, cannot serve longer than one year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Since Wells assumed her current position 15 months ago, the state will no longer recognize her signature on behalf of the district, and Chester Upland’s finances was being affected as a result.
Regularly scheduled payments of state and federal funds were being withheld from the district in the absence of an acceptable superintendent signature. To ensure the release of those funds and the continued flow of revenue to the district, the board had to act to implement the change in leadership in the administration.
“This is purely a compliance-based action that we had to take on what is essentially an emergency basis to prevent the district from experiencing a financial collapse,” Mann said. “In no way is this reflection of Wells’ long and distinguished track record, tireless work ethic or undeniable passion, care and concern for the students and families of Chester Upland.”
To ensure a smooth transition of leadership, both Wells and Davis will remain on staff with the district administration. It has yet to be determined if Wells or Davis will hold any other formal positions with the administration once the transition period has ended.
“Wells and Davis deserve tons of recognition for spearheading the successful opening of our schools in the midst of the largest financial deficit Chester Upland has ever had,” Mann said. “That remarkable accomplishment, which many people doubted could ever be achieved in the face of such devastating state budget cuts, is reflective of the tireless devotion they have provided to this district for their entire careers as educators.”