For the second time in less than two years, the Warren County School District has a new leader at the helm.
At a special meeting Monday morning, the district's board of directors voted to appoint Dr. William Clark to the position of superintendent and approved an accompanying contract.
Following a motion by Thomas Knapp and a second by John Grant, the board voted 7-1 to in favor of the measures. Mary Anne Paris cast the sole dissenting vote. Board Vice President Donna Zariczny was not in attendance.
In a telephone interview following the meeting, Clark, who was not in attendance, said, "I'm excited about the opportunity and I can't wait to get started, get moved up there and get settled in."
Clark, an Emporium native, received his bachelor's degree and his doctorate in Educational Administration from Penn State University. He received his master's degree from Shippensburg University.
He brings approximately eight years experience as a superintendent to the position, having served in that role from 2004 until 2010 at Milton Area School District and from 2010 until 2012 at Manheim Central School District. Prior to his time at Milton, he served as Tech-Prep Principal, then High School Principal and eventually as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction with the St. Marys Area School District between 1993 and 2004. He most recently served at the Solanco Area School District as Interim Elementary Principal and Educational Consultant.
Manheim placed Clark on administrative paid leave in September 2012 after an outside law firm was consulted to review the district's operations and personnel. Clark resigned his post in November. No official reason was given for the resignation. Both sides agreed to a "non-disparagement/neutral reference" clause included in the settlement agreement between Clark and the district.
Following Monday morning's vote, Grant brought up the issue of Clark using a personal day for a speaking engagement he is scheduled to make, an arrangement Clark suggested.
"I disagree that when a superintendent represents both the school district and himself at a conference that it should be counted as a personal day," Grant said. "We should be honored... It should be (counted as) a work day."
While no formal action was needed, there was general agreement with the sentiment among the board members present.
Board member John "Jack" Werner offered praise for district administrator Amy Stewart, who has served as interim superintendent since the departure of Brandon Hufnagel in February.
"I think we need to commend Mrs. Stewart," Werner said, "for not only keeping the ship afloat but moving forward."
"I know the area. I was born and raised in Cameron County," Clark said. "I'm very excited. They (the board) have a good energy, and talking with the teachers and support staff, there's a good core group up there."
In a press release issued after the meeting, Board President Arthur Stewart said, "Among Dr. Clark's winning qualities are his eight-plus years experience as superintendent and his keen interest in curriculum development. With the district's building plan settled, the board intends to put a very sharpened focus on educational issues over the next several years, including the existing goals of high school reform and continuous student improvement. Dr. Clark responded enthusiastically to this focus and, in fact, immediately brought experiences and ideas to the discussion that will enhance our vision in very positive ways.
"This was a highly competitive process. Our initial decision was to interview five candidates, but within 24 hours of selecting those five, two accepted other positions. While we were negotiating with Dr. Clark, he was in final negotiations with another district, and was in preliminary discussions with others. We are pleased that Dr. Clark chose to join us; he expressed several times that he liked the feel of our community and the interactions he had with our staff and the community members from the focus group."
Stewart also thanked the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) in the release.
"From speaking with colleagues, our board was aware this would be a challenging search," Stewart said. "With its extensive contacts, the PSBA helped us find a reasonable pool of candidates; and once we began interviews, the PSBA helped us navigate through a swiftly changing set of circumstances. At the end of the day, the goal is to hire just one highly qualified candidate. Both the PSBA and the board think we have that in Dr. Clark and we thank the PSBA for its expertise and considerable help."
The board utilized PSBA's services throughout the process of finding and hiring a superintendent through its "executive search" service package at a cost of $10,950.
According to the release, Clark worked with the Warren County Career Center director during his tenure with the St. Marys School District in an effort to improve vocational programs at St. Marys. The Career Center was also one of seven schools he visited while conducting his dissertation research.
"I got to know the district," Clark said. "The superintendent at the time kind of took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of being a superintendent."
The employment agreement between the district and Clark includes reimbursement of three percent of the purchase price of his first home in Warren County up to a maximum of $5,000. According to the release, Clark plans to relocate to the area.
The employment agreement with Clark is dated June 24 and his appointment takes effect July 1.
The board approved Kelly Martin to the position of 260-day administrator for the 2013/2014 school year.
Insurance coverage renewals were approved through Garrison-Simonsen, Inc., and Sundahl & Co., Inc.
Both measures were approved unanimously by the board members present.
Director of Buildings and Grounds Services Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht reported to the board that the insurance claims adjuster working on the district's claim for damages at Youngsville High School, which was severely vandalized last week, has approved a contractor for clean up at the site.