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Tuscarora School Board fills vacancy without interviewing candidates

September 23, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - With 16 residents interested in the open seat on the Tuscarora School Board, the board filled its vacancy Monday by appointing Kenneth Nolen to the remainder of Larry Buchanan's term without interviewing any of the candidates.

Buchanan resigned from the board in August for what the board said was "personal reasons."

Residents questioned the apparent haste in appointing to the board without interviewing those interested in filling the seat.

"I am concerned that you had 17 (initial) applicants and did not interview any of them," said Tim Stanton. "I think that is a disservice to the taxpayers. In business, you don't just hire by looking at résumés, you take time to interview."

Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Erb said candidates provided detailed resums to the board which she felt made interviews less than necessary given the number of candidates.

"It would have been very difficult to interview all the candidates and make a decision," she said. "Board membership has to do with things that cannot be fully represented in an interview on paper for that matter."

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Erb said Nolen was not hastily chosen by the board.

"Mr. Nolen regularly attends meeting and I think that those of you who attend meetings have great respect for him," she said.

For the last 15 years, Nolen has attended school board meetings, Board President Jane Rice said. And while he participates, Vice President Janice Hawbaker said Nolen and the board do not always see eye to eye.

Nolen said he submitted his name for consideration because he wants to help the district "heal."

The recently defeated referendum has left the board struggling to bring a positive outcome from the voters' overwhelming rejection of the proposed renovations and improvements at district schools.

"We have many issues that we need to positively turn out of the referendum failing," he said. "I want to help heal the district and the community."

Despite his eagerness to sit on the board, Nolen is ineligible to run for the school board because he is a federal employee at Letterkenny Army Dept. The appointment would allow him to serve in a position that federal law prohibits him from seeking through a vote.

Appointing Nolen to the vacancy allows taxpayers to choose who they want on the board without giving a board-chosen candidate incumbency.

"I think the board made the right decision," Erb said.

"The voters get to decide who they want in 2009 and Mr. Nolen gets to be on the board for a time."

Rice said Nolen will serve the remainder of Buchanan's term through the 2009 election.

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