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Chambersburg names new school superintendent

December 01, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Joseph O. Padasak Jr., the superintendent of the Windber (Pa.) Area School District, was named the new superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District on Wednesday.

The Chambersburg School Board voted 9-0 in favor of Padasak, 48, who will succeed longtime Superintendent Edwin Sponseller when he retires in June at the end of the 2005-06 school year. Padasak said Wednesday he will remain in his current position until March 1, at which time he will come to Chambersburg to work with Sponseller during a transition period.

The board approved a four-year contract that will pay Padasak $116,000 during the first year, with 3 percent increases in subsequent years. The contract also includes incentive bonuses, Padasak said.

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"We have buildings that need to be done," Padasak said after the vote, adding that he drives a high-mileage 1993 automobile. "By nature, I'm frugal. I spend your money like it's my own money."

Padasak is in his fourth year as superintendent at Windber, a district of approximately 1,500 students in Somerset County near Johnstown, Pa. He comes to Chambersburg, with a student population of about 8,300 students, at a time when it is experiencing a surge in enrollment and is planning a major building program, including a new high school.

Business Manager Rick Vensel also said the district will begin negotiations on a new contract with its more than 500 teachers in the upcoming year.

"I think there are a lot of challenges, but I think a lot of preplanning has been done on them" by the school board and administration, Padasak said. "I'm looking forward to that."

Sponseller, 61, is retiring at the end of this school year after 40 years as an educator, all but two of them with Chambersburg and 18 as the district's superintendent.

"I commend the board for its diligence in the superintendent search," Sponseller said, noting the board had "sought total community input" in the process.

Four men were interviewed by the board for the superintendent's position, each of whom had participated in forums in November that allowed members of the public to address the candidates. One of those applicants, West Shore School District Superintendent Richard J. Domencic, later withdrew his name from consideration after signing a new contract with that district.

Dana R. Baker, the superintendent of the Fannett-Metal School District in western Franklin County, and Eric C. Michael, Chambersburg's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction since 1999, were the other finalists for the job.

Padasak earned his bachelor's degree in science and agriculture from Penn State University, and in 1991 received his master's degree in educational administration from Western Maryland College. He earned his doctorate in educational administration from Widener University in 1999.

Before becoming superintendent of Windber in 2002, Padasak was a middle school principal in the Hamburg Area School District, according to his rsum. He has classroom experience as an agriculture and science teacher in the Big Spring Area School District from 1978 to 1981, and teaching the same subjects in the Fairfield (Pa.) Area School District in Adams County from 1989 to 1991.

At Windber, Padasak also served as business manager and director of the career and technology center.

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