South Western board appoints new superintendent

Junior Gonzalez
  • Jay Burkhart will become the new superintendent of South Western schools.

After a two-month search, the South Western school board appointed Jay Burkhart as the new superintendent of the district during a meeting Monday night.

Dr. Jay Burkhart will be South Western School District's new superintendent starting in August.

The school board voted for Burkhart 8-1.

Burkhart comes to the district with at least 11 years of educational administrative experience, according to a news release. He is  the superintendent of the East Pennsboro School District, a position he has held since 2014. He also has held assistant principal and associate principal positions in Chartiers Valley, Pine Richland and Derry Area school districts.

“The board is excited to bring Dr. Burkhart on board,” board president Ray Mummert said in a news release. “His professional background, along with a deep understanding of many aspects of school district operations, makes him an excellent fit for the staff and students of the district.”

South Western TSA program competing for success

Burkhart is a graduate of Slippery Rock University and obtained his master’s degree in education from California University and his doctorate from Indiana University, according to the news release.

“I think I used the word excited too much,” Burkhart said, “but I really am.”

He said he noted an energy and excitement from everyone in the community, from board members to parents, even students who attended “meet the candidate” sessions during the search for a new superintendent.

“It’s infectious, and it makes you want to start right away,” Burkhart said.

He said he is dedicated to continuing the academic achievement in the district, which he calls “outstanding,” and added he'd like to continue to see the high level of community involvement with the district.

Burkhart will take over as superintendent from Barbara Rupp, who announced earlier this year that she would be leaving the district after 18 years to run for a seat on the Hanover borough council. She won the Democratic nomination for an open seat in last month’s primary election.

“Dr. Rupp has been a dedicated, conscientious educator and tireless worker during her career at South Western,” Mummert said in a news release. He added Rupp “has been instrumental in creating a solid foundation for Dr. Burkhart to lead the district into the future.”

Rupp said she looks forward to a role in government, something she said she’s been very interested in. She also hopes to go on several vacations, including a trip to Prague and Amsterdam.

Rupp said she was not involved in the process to find her successor. As an observer, however, she said the board worked exhaustively to find the right candidate.

“It seems like they did a very thorough process,” she said.

She said she briefly crossed paths with Burkhart at the Monday meeting and hopes to speak in-depth with him soon. Rupp added she heard nothing but positive things at Monday's board meeting.

“I’m sure this person has what it takes to take the district to the next level,” she said.

Burkhart will begin his nearly five-year term as superintendent on Aug. 14.