SAEGERTOWN — PENNCREST School Board has unanimously voted to hire a new assistant superintendent.
Ken Newman was selected from a pool of 48 applications, according to Superintendent Timothy Glasspool, at a special meeting held Monday.
“The interview teams believed his strong background in mathematics, curriculum development and technology integration made him a good fit for PENNCREST,” Glasspool said in an email. “All of our final round candidates were of high quality.”
Three rounds of interviews narrowed a field of 10 finalists down to three before the board selected Newman, who is currently the assistant to the superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Pleasant Valley School District, located near Stroudsburg in Monroe County. Pleasant Valley, a 114 square mile district, enrolls nearly 5,000 students in its four schools. PENNCREST’s six schools enroll approximately 2,750 students in a district of 408 square miles, the state’s third largest.
Newman will be paid an annual salary of $122,250 over a 3.5-year contract, according to Glasspool.
Newman is expected to start approximately midway though the current school year, according to board member Jeff Brooks, who said Newman must give Pleasant Valley 60 days notice before departing his position there.
“One of primary focuses of this assistant superintendent will be developing a curriculum that will meet new testing standards and add more consistency and rigor,” Brooks said.
PENNCREST had both elementary and secondary curriculum directors as well as an assistant superintendent in the past, Brooks said, but has eliminated several administrative positions, including both curriculum directors.
The assistant superintendent position was created in August, Glasspool said.
While the decision to hire Newman was met with no dissent from board members, numerous people questioned the need for the position after state Rep. Brad Roae raised the issue on social media hours before Monday’s meeting.
"Should PENNCREST hire an assistant superintendent or should they hire two additional math teachers?" Roae asked in a Facebook posting.
Roae went on to contrast the low percentages of PENNCREST high school students achieving proficient scores on the state’s standardized algebra tests with students at schools in Conneaut, Crawford Central and Titusville districts.
While some of PENNCREST’s math teachers are “absolutely wonderful,” he stated, “PENNCREST also has awful math teachers that they will not fire.”
There were more than 50 comments in response to Roae’s post by Wednesday, including Brooks and two other board members who defended the board’s decision and questioned Roae’s knowledge of the issues facing the district. Many of the commenters supported the idea of adding teachers rather than an assistant superintendent.
While board members participated in the thread, Glasspool did not.
“I did not see representative Roae’s comments on Facebook or anywhere else. I have no comment about his social media post,” Glasspool said. “I am available to discuss the direction of PENNCREST with any resident or group.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.