School board challengers cite Northeastern's finances
- Five candidates are running for four seats in Northeastern School District.
- Candidates include a former schoolteacher and Chris Leh, the victim of an alleged assault by former Superintendent Shawn Minnich.
Northeastern School District residents will head to the polls May 16 to select candidates for four open school board seats.
Two seats are competitive in Region 1, which covers residents living in East Manchester and Conewago Townships. Three candidates: incumbent Linda Morningstar, William Gingerich and Chris Leh are running for the two seats.
Robert Tabachini, a current board member in Region 1, is not running for re-election. Board President Margie Walker and Vice President Constance Koerner are running unopposed in regions 2 and 3, respectively.
The York Dispatch asked each of the three candidates for the contested seat several questions to get a sense of what they’ll bring to the table.
Background: Gingerich is a retired teacher who spent his entire career in the Northeastern School District, both as a teacher and a board member. He is a graduate of York College and taught social studies and coached golf, wrestling and volleyball in the district.
“It’s all about children,” he said.
Priorities: Gingerich said he believes the district is “moving in the right direction,” but he’d like to see more attention paid to “financial constraints” of seniors in the area.
Gingerich calls himself a “fiscal conservative” and said he would like to see a more financially responsible board.
“I think we’re a very efficient school district,” he said. “I want to see more of that for our senior citizens.”
Background: Leh is a native of Blue Ball, Lancaster County, and served in the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of Penn State University and obtained his MBA at York College. Leh was allegedly assaulted by former district Superintendent Shawn Minnich in December 2015 in a domestic incident at the home of Minnich’s estranged wife. The criminal case is ongoing.
Leh said he initially attended board meetings to see how the district would deal with the former superintendent, but he came to be interested in the rest of the district’s issues, such as taxes and spending.
Leh cited the district's millage rate, the second-highest in the county, as an example of bad business sense.
“As a businessman, you look at income and revenue,” Leh said. “I might bring something to the board (that) they might be lacking."
Leh said he is vehemently opposed to some of the ways the district spends taxpayer dollars, including the staffing of schools in close proximity. He said Spring Forge Intermediate School and Shallow Brook Intermediate School have separate principals and janitors when costs could be saved by having one administrator for both schools.
Finally, Leh said he would like to serve as a change agent for the school board, which he said is morally deficient.
“I found a culture (in the board) that is pervasively the same,” he said. “It’s the same nine people that are making decisions that are ill-informed. That’s a problem.”
Background: Morningstar is an incumbent board member and former vice president. She is a medical coder and has two children who attended the district.
Priorities: Morningstar said she would like to see the district “continue what we’re doing.” She cites the district’s proposed tax freeze as one of the actions the board is making to help students and taxpayers alike in the district.
Morningstar would like to increase student engagement with literature.
“I want our children to become so successful that they develop a love for reading,” she said.
College preparedness is something the district is doing particularly well in, according to Morningstar, and she would like to continue that trend.