HAYFIELD TOWNSHIP — PENNCREST School Board is accepting letters of interest until July 30 at 4 p.m. from members of the public looking to fill the vacated seat of Mark Gerow, who resigned on July 14 for medical reasons.

The school board held a special meeting Tuesday to decide on the process for replacing Gerow, who was the board president. After the letters of interest deadline passes, the school board will schedule candidate interviews between Aug. 2-5, as well as hold public candidate interviews on Aug. 9 starting at 6:30 p.m.

The final vote to pick a candidate is expected to occur on Aug. 12 at the board's voting meeting. The new board member will be sworn in at the meeting and immediately become a member.

Whoever ends up filling the term may only be doing so for a short amount of time. The term expires Dec. 1 of this year, so unless the chosen board member is already a candidate in the upcoming general election for school board and wins election, they will have to leave the seat after that date.

Theresa Croll, one of the candidates for the upcoming election who is not an incumbent, was present at the meeting and indicated she would be interested in filling out Gerow's term when asked by board Vice President Luigi DeFrancesco.

There was some debate among the school board members whether they should stick with picking from one of the two non-incumbent candidates in the upcoming election to fill the seat, those being Croll and Mathew Vogt.

Board members David Valesky and Bob Johnston voiced support for such an approach, while DeFrancesco questioned whether anyone besides the candidates would even be interested.

"It's only for five months, so I don't know if we're going to get anybody else besides the candidates already on the ballot," DeFrancesco said.

However, other board members expressed support for keeping it open to the general public. Superintendent Timothy Glasspool also pointed out that the candidates could not be prepared to take up the position until after the election, depending on how their schedule for the next few months is.

Discussion was also held to establish some kind of permanent policy on how the board handles filling vacancies. Glasspool said the school code was vague on how vacancies are filled, only mandating that they be done within 30 days of the resignation.

The superintendent said he's been with the school district for three vacancy openings on the school board, and the board has "done it differently all three times."

Board member Tim Brown was the first to suggest putting in a permanent policy, which gained traction with the other board members.

"I'm saying let's just get consistent," Brown said. "Let's put it on the books so we don't have to have a special meeting. So if this happens again, we already know what to do."

While it's too late to get such a policy in place for this current opening, Glasspool said it could be discussed at an upcoming policy committee meeting.

Board member Jennifer Davis was absent from Tuesday's meeting. All other members were present.

Applicants must be at least age 18, a district resident of at least one year, and not be employed by or do business with the district. They can submit a letter of interest to board Secretary Cynthia Paxton at cpaxton@penncrest.org. Questions can also be submitted to that email, or answered by calling Paxton at (814) 337-1619.

PENNCREST School Board will next meet on Aug. 9 in the Cambridge Springs High School auditorium.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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