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Padasak's first year is full of changes

April 22, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.-Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Joseph Padasak says he did not take the job to become an "agent of change," but change is coming to Franklin County's largest school district.

During his first year on the job, the administration and the school board have been tackling issues such as the future of the Franklin County Career & Technology Center, the planned $70 million renovation and expansion of Chambersburg Area Senior High School, an increasingly diverse student population and the need to improve test scores.

Padasak, 50, is nearing the end of the first year of his four-year contract with Chambersburg, which has approximately 8,500 students. Prior to coming to Chambersburg, he was the superintendent of the Windber (Pa.) Area School District, which had about 1,500 students.

In an interview last week, Padasak said the district's minority population now is 22 percent, due largely to a burgeoning Hispanic population, many of whom have limited English skills. At the same time, the district has only a handful of minority faculty, something he is seeking to change.

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Since Padasak arrived, the board has changed course on its secondary school building program, which at one time called for a new high school. The project to rebuild Chambersburg Area Senior High School, which was built in the mid-1950s, will go out for bids this fall, he said.

Padasak has pushed for changes at the Franklin County Career & Technology Center, sending Chambersburg's more than 300 career tech students there for both academic and career classes. The other five school districts in the county send their students to the center for one semester a year.

Married with three children, Padasak received his doctorate in education leadership from Widener University. He is being paid $116,000 in the first year of his contract, according to school district figures.

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