Public to have say in superintendent search

April 21, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Residents of the Chambersburg Area School District will have their say in what they want in a new superintendent as the search begins for Edwin Sponseller's replacement.

Sponseller, 61, will retire June 30, 2006, after 40 years in education, all but two of them in Chambersburg, he said recently.

"I started as a ninth-grade civics teacher and basketball coach at Faust" Junior High School, Sponseller said. A graduate of Shippensburg (Pa.) University with a degree in history, Sponseller also has a master's degree in social sciences and a doctorate from Temple University.


During his career, he has been an assistant principal at Faust and an associate superintendent. The two years he spent outside of the district were as an assistant principal at James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa., he said.

By the date of his retirement, Sponseller said he will have served 18 years as superintendent.

"It's been a great ride and I've enjoyed every minute of it ... It's different every day," he said.

Sponseller's successor will face challenges, including implementing much of a $116 million building program the board approved last year.

At the April 13 school board meeting, Director of Human Resources Catherine Dusman outlined the process in the search for Sponseller's replacement. It began in February when the board met in a workshop meeting with a representative of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to discuss the search initiation, application and interview phases.

Dusman said the board is in the initiation phase of that search, which will include community comment.

"We want to know the strengths of the district and the areas needing improvement," she said. "A survey will be available in May on the school district's Web site and in hard-copy form for everyone to share their concerns."

The district's Web site is Comments from the surveys will be collected through the summer, she said.

The survey will help the board determine the criteria for the selection, including the applicants' levels of education, personal characteristics residents deem valuable and special abilities, such as knowledge of the strategic planning process, she said.

Once the applications are received, Dusman said they will be screened by a selection committee for interviews.

"The first set of interviews will follow a specific format set by the selection committee" and use the criteria established by the surveys.

The field of applicants will be narrowed and a second set of interviews will be held, according to Dusman. Those interviews will last a full day and include a tour of the district and meetings with groups that could include faculty, support staff and parent organizations.

Dusman said the school board expects to conclude the search and make an announcement on a new superintendent in the spring of 2006.

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