The Dover Area school board voted Monday to approve Ken Cherry as the district's new superintendent, concluding a two-month search for the district's next leader.

Cherry, 44, was chosen after the board's search, which included 21 applicants through a search conducted by the Pennsylvania School Board Association. His four-year contract includes a $139,000 starting salary.

Cherry, currently an assistant superintendent with the School District of Philadelphia, said he was drawn to the Dover position because it reminds him of the district he graduated from in his hometown of Bellwood, Blair County.

Hometown feeling: Dover's classes are larger than the 116 people he graduated with, but the rural York area gives Cherry the "Main Street feel" he grew up with, he said.

Cherry's 24 years in education started as a teacher in rural Virginia. He moved to a suburban setting in Baltimore County, Md., and has since spent time in more urban settings, Cherry said.

"I think I have a pretty well-rounded wealth of experience in terms of working with all types of communities," he said.

And his first priority, Cherry said, is to get to know Dover's community.

Cherry lives in the Central York School District, so he's not far from the Dover district he will serve. He aims to focus on two-way communication, to make sure the district is hearing from people as often as the district sends information out, he said.


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Other goals: Cherry's second priority is to take a look at the district's curriculum for all grade levels, he said. Many of the school's programs are top-notch already, but Cherry said he wants to make sure all classes are "rigorous and engaging" for the students who take them.

And the third priority, he said, is to look long-term at budgets for future years. Looking at projections for five years down the line will help to "spend like its our fifth year rather than next year," and will help to avoid piecing budgets together for a one-year solution, he said.

Cherry graduated from Slippery Rock University and finished his master's degree at Johns Hopkins University. He has been accepted as a doctoral candidate at Temple University, though that will be a slow process because of his new priorities, he said.

"I realize I have a lot to do," Cherry said.

Cherry replaces Robert Krantz, who retired from the position in January. Acting superintendents Jason Conway and Joel Riedel filled in during the interim period.