York Suburban board reorganizes, starts superintendent search process

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

The York Suburban school board set new leadership and started the search for a superintendent during a dual meeting Monday, Dec. 4.

Kenneth H. Watts
York Suburban School Board, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

The board’s regular planning meeting was preceded by the annual board reorganization meeting, which included the swearing-in of new members Steven Scalet, James Sanders and Kenneth Watts, as well as the start of a new term for Ellen Freireich, beginning her 21st year on the board.

The meeting also brought the election of John Posenau and Lois Ann Schroeder as board president and vice president, respectively. Both were elected unanimously.

Monday night’s meeting also started the process toward finding a new district superintendent.

Acting Superintendent Larry Redding invited representatives of Chester County Intermediate Unit, one of two consulting firms being considered.

Mary Curley, director of communications for the CCIU, says the average term of a superintendent in Pennsylvania is 2.9 years, even though state law requires superintendent contracts to be 3-5 year agreements.

Ellen Frieriech
York Suburban School Board, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Since its consulting practice started in 2009, the CCIU claims it has successfully placed 30 superintendents for school districts with only one contract not renewed after its initial term.

York Suburban has never used a search firm to find a superintendent, according to Freireich.

Its former superintendent, Michele Merkle, was an internal hire.

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"Fewer districts are doing this without help," added Schroeder.

Just this year, South Western School District and West York Area School District found their new superintendents with the help of a consulting firm.

The other superintendent search proposal is from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, though it did not have a representative present at the meeting.

John Posenau, Board President
York Suburban School Board, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Board members agreed to decide by their next board meeting on Dec. 18 to choose a group to initiate the search.

The decision will come nearly three months after Merkle resigned on Sept. 25.

Merkle was charged with two counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief last week after allegedly vandalizing the vehicle of former Assistant Superintendent Patricia Maloney.

There was no mention of the incident or subsequent charges at the dual meeting.

Redding was approved as acting superintendent on Oct. 9 and will remain until a new superintendent begins in the role or until the end of the new school year — whichever occurs first.

Reach Junior Gonzalez at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @EducationYD.