Gov. Josh Shapiro has tapped another top Philadelphia School District official for his cabinet.
Reggie McNeil, the school district’s chief operating officer, is leaving to be Secretary of General Services, responsible for state buildings and procurement, Shapiro announced Wednesday.
McNeil’s move to Harrisburg follows the departure of Deputy Superintendent Uri Monson, who had been the district’s chief financial officer for years. Monson is now Shapiro’s budget secretary.
And it’s a blow for a district that has a stock of aging school buildings beset by environmental problems. The district has struggled with turnover and costly missteps on the facilities and operations side, and to lose another point person on the issue will sting.
The school system recently filed a lawsuit against the city over a law that gives Philadelphia authority over environmental conditions in district schools, creating an oversight board and empowering the city’s managing director with final authority over whether buildings open.
McNeil has held his district job — overseeing capital projects, environmental, facilities and maintenance, food services and transportation — for two years. He came to Philadelphia from the school system in Charleston, S.C., and also served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps.
Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. said McNeil would be “greatly missed,” praised him for a tenure that included overseeing the construction of three new school buildings and dozens of other major projects; expanding and restructuring the district’s environmental team, reducing the total backlog of work orders to 11,298 from 17,174; and, during the pandemic, helming a process that resulted in millions of meals served to students citywide.
“In his role, Reggie has been an esteemed leader and colleague,” Watlington said in a statement. “We wish him well in his new role at the state.”
Shapiro hailed McNeil as an “experienced and dedicated” public servant in a statement, and said that he would work with McNeil and Inspector General Lucas Miller — whom Shapiro reappointed to that position Wednesday — “to ensure state government works for the people of Pennsylvania. I have complete confidence in these leaders and in the rest of my cabinet to bring people together to solve problems, create opportunities for Pennsylvanians, and advance real freedom in our Commonwealth.”
McNeil said he was “humbled and honored” to take the state job.
“As an advocate for reform and transparency in government, I am excited to work alongside Gov. Shapiro to solve problems and make sure government operates efficiently and effectively for the people of Pennsylvania,” McNeil said in a statement.