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Tuscarora school board president asked to rethink his resignation

April 12, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — After walking out of a Tuscarora School Board meeting Monday and resigning as president of the board, Clifford Smith said he has changed his mind.

Hours after the board meeting, several board members contacted Smith and asked him to reconsider his decision to step down as board president.

Smith's decision to resign came immediately on the heels of a 4-4 vote that doomed the approval of a three-year lease with Apple for Macintosh laptops at a cost of $73,089.05 per year.

The laptops are part of a new technology initiative providing the district's ninth-grade students with a laptop for use in the classroom and at home.

"I hereby resign my position as president of the school board. I am not going to sit here and watch this school district go backwards," Smith said after the vote failed.

Voting against the lease were Dan Reeder, Donnie Piper, Tom Black and Erich Hawbaker. Voting for the lease were Smith, Daryl Hunsberger, Harold Hunsberger and Larry Funk.

Reeder said he, Funk and Hawbaker spoke with Smith on behalf of the rest of the board about rethinking his resignation.

"They asked me to reconsider stepping down as president and not to resign as president and to continue on in that role," Smith said. "After some deliberation, I agreed to do so."

Reeder said the board didn't take a formal vote, but it was the consensus of the board to ask Smith to return as board president.

"Cliff cares so deeply about the district and the kids in the district. I'm very happy to say that he's willing to come back," said Reeder.

"He (Smith) has really set a very good tone for the board. The citizens are very happy with the interchange. We actually have good discussions and the result of good discussions is good governance," Funk said.

Funk said the district checked with its solicitor and Smith's resignation wasn't official.

"He needed time to calm down after the vote," Funk said.

"I was angry and I let my emotions get the better of me. That probably wasn't the best thing to do. That probably wasn't the best model to show our kids, but when you believe about something as passionately as I believe about the opportunity that these computers give to our kids," Smith said Tuesday.

"It's really difficult to see all that hard work and the money we spent on the building in preparation for this program, all the money we spent on teacher development, all the money we spent getting ready to roll this program out and then to see it squashed like that was just devastating," Smith said.

While Funk voted for leasing the laptops and Reeder voted against leasing, both support technology.

"I'm committed to the technology. My reason for voting against it is that it is such a large amount of money that we owe it to the taxpayers and students to make the most informed decision," Reeder said.

Not only will Smith be back as president for the next school board meeting in May, but also the laptops will be back on the agenda in May.

Business Manager Eric Holtzman said the administration would prepare a presentation on the importance of laptops as well as several options for the board to discuss. Then, the board is expected to vote on the laptops in June.

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