Board Members Will Vote April 24 on Whether to Launch Search
Quakertown's school board meeting on April 10 offered a concerned community of parents an update on the controversial topic of searching for a permanent superintendent. Dr. Bill Harner has been substitute superintendent of the district since Dr. Lisa Andrejko took a leave of absence due to medical concerns. Her official retirement is slated for June 2014.
Harner has since made a positive impression on the majority of administrators and parents during his short time with the district, according to a written letter from the board read by Director of Human Resources Nancianne Edwards at the meeting.
On March 20 a town-hall style meeting was conducted, along with a survey, to obtain community feedback about whether Harner met expectations or if a formal search should be completed.
The reading of the letter provided the public with a snapshot view of how the board plans to proceed, as it said a majority of the board members are not in favor of a search. However, at the conclusion of the reading, board member Bob Smith remarked, "At the beginning of this meeting the only name on the paper (letter) was Paul Stepanoff (board president). My name is not on the paper as being agreeable to the statement."
Smith previously voted in favor of a formal search for other superintendent candidates, along with fellow board members Fern Strunk, Joyce King and Anna Cattie. Although the school board's letter states, "We may or may not be conducting a full search," and "we are still divided on the next step." Stepanoff announced a vote will be taken at the next school board meeting on Thursday, April 24, to appoint Harner as the permanent superintendent.
Cattie added, "For me, this has never been about Dr. Harner. It is about the process being done and living up to what is owed to the community."
King, who is in favor of a formal search, said, "We interviewed three candidates for the substitute position, but two of the candidates were retired superintendents and couldn't be hired as a permanent, which left us with Dr. Harner."
No further comments were provided from other members of the board or Harner.
In other business, Harner provided members of the board with information regarding the possible change of start and end times for students at the high school and middle schools.
Essentially, the proposed plan would see high school students arriving and dismissing earlier and the middle school students starting and ending later. The time variance would be 15 minutes in comparison to the current times and would not happen until the next school year if votes are in favor of the plan.
Harner explained the estimated potential money savings as $228,555 if vans and minivans were eliminated for non-public and charter school students. Harner proposed those 35 students falling into that bracket be bused, along with the district's students, to a transfer location then bused accordingly to their private and charter school locations. Eliminating the door-to-door pick up and drop off for those students would create the estimated savings.
Harner asked the board to look at the big picture and recognize the potential for high school students to be home sooner if this goes through. "Every minute counts and we owe it to our students," Harner said. Further discussion will commence with a decision to be made in the near future.