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LASD sees major change in leadership

With the surprise resignation of the school board president, six outgoing board members, and an interim superintendent, Littlestown Area School District enters the final half of the 2023-2024 school year with a new slate of leaders.

Dolores Nester, who has served as board president for nine and a half years, submitted her resignation at Monday’s meeting. “I am as surprised as anyone by Dolores’ resignation,” said board member Carl Thompson, announcing, after a brief executive session, that the board would place an ad in the local paper to advertise the vacancy, with a deadline of Nov. 27. Candidates will be interviewed at a special meeting Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m. to fill the vacancy created by Nestor’s resignation.

Board members leaving are Robert Hahn, who served the board for 24 years; Jeanne Ewen, for four years; Shari Kruger, for four years; Yancy Unger, for four years; Jennifer McClay, for nine years; and Lindsey Kress, an interim board member since May.

Departing board members were recognized for their service to the district and for doing everything they could for the students in the community. They were presented with a wooden airplane a district icon, representing their contributions.

Carl Thompson and Brian Lawyer will remain on the board, joined by newly elected members Nick Lovell, Danielle Brenneman, Mary Brenneman, Duane Sullivan, Fred Miller, and Janell Ressler.

Nester was dubbed a “classy leader” by Unger, and McClay praised her leadership skills. “Dee has taught me that even if you don’t see eye to eye, we are closer to agreement than what you think if you just take a minute to listen.”

Lawyer praised Nester’s involvement in the community for the past forty years, and Thompson said, “Thanks for all you have taught me. You have made me a better person.”

In thanking the board members for their kind words, Nester said, “This board has been incredible,” adding she hopes students will “stay in the forefront in the future. Money should not be at the forefront of any board,” she added. “Yes, they should be fiscally responsible, “she said, “but the board and the students are what we really care about.

Superintendent Christopher Bigger, who also announced his resignation in the fall, thanked the community for rallying around him during his tenure and praised the LASD staff for their willingness to listen and do what they were asked without complaint. He also recognized the contribution made by Nester, who, he said, brought the board so much perspective and was always willing to learn. Bigger will serve as Superintendent for Chambersburg Area Schools, a district of 10,000 students.

Dr. Don Bell will serve as interim superintendent for the school district until a new Superintendent can be found. “I’m very honored and humbled at being chosen to do this.” He added that after 18 years, he didn’t think he’d be back in this job, but after hearing so many positives while in the community, he is happy to be “that bridge that serves between now and the person you choose.”

The board recently signed with Dirocco Education Consulting LLC to conduct the executive search and transition services. Cost to the district is $6,000 plus expenses. Bell will receive $500 per day for compensation until a new superintendent is selected or June 30, 2024.

Bell, a health and physical education major, served as superintendent of the Northern Lebanon School District from 1999 to 2017 and was employed with the Pennsylvania State Retirement System from 2017 until June 2023. Bell was a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and principal in Chambersburg Area Schools and high school principal at Northern York County School District.

Bell was unanimously approved as interim superintendent at the Oct. 16 board meeting, with little discussion. There was no announcement regarding Bell’s selection at the Oct. 9 work session, but the board went into executive session on a personnel matter before that meeting.

Other board business

The board approved the transfer of $2,000,000 from the general fund to the capital reserve, effective June 30, 2023, for future district capital needs. Two capital projects were approved at Mon’ay’s meeting: the relocation and replacement of the shot put and discus pad for $ 17,302 and a new John Deere Tractor and mower for $14,925 with a $4,250 trade-in deduction.

In personnel matters, Trinh Sudak was transferred from art teacher to ten-month high school assistant principal, effective Dec. 4, 2023. Cortney Ney was hired as a third-grade teacher, beginning Dec. 18, 2023, and Stacey Reed, high school learning support teacher, Feb. 13, 2024. The Littlestown Education Association Collective Bargaining Agreement was approved for a term of five years, from 2024 to 2029.

Policy 320, Freedom of Speech in Non-school Settings, and Policy 321, Political Activities, were approved with minor changes after a second reading. While two new policies regarding commercial sponsorship agreements were tabled for further consideration, the board approved the first reading of Policy 338, Sabbatical Leave, and Policy 622, Govermental Accounting Standards Board, Statement 34.

Staff and Students Recognized

Andy Joy, an ACES custodial worker and former LASD student, was recognized as the employee of the month. A graduate of LASD, Joy has worked with the school district for ten years. “Part of why we’re recognizing him tonight is his ambition for reading and his passion for writing,” Joel Moran, principal of ACES, said. Joy was given a round of applause when Moran announced he had published his first book, Anthro, in September. “He always wanted to write his own book, Moran continued, “and he was always encouraged by the teaching staff and his colleagues.” More information for Joy’s science fiction book for middle to high school students can be found at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/anthro-andy-joy/1143948739.

Students of the month are Emmett Herring, first grade; Alayna Beyer, fourth grade; Mylah Manzo, seventh grade; Gracin Peart, and Kaleb Smith, twelfth grade.

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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