The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 2, 2014

Down to one

Superintendent finalist at M-W welcomes challenge

— MIDDLEBURG — Middleburg resident Leon Spangler didn’t hold back in his questioning of Richard “Rick” Musselman, the Midd-West School District superintendent finalist, during Monday’s public forum to meet the prospective candidate.

Spangler bluntly inquired if the board viewed Musselman as a “rubber stamp” to fill the leaderless district that has been thrown into high-profile chaos since the resignation last fall of former Superintendent Wesley Knapp amid charges of neglect and incompetence and suspension without pay of Acting Superintendent Daphne Snook in April for an alleged breach of the district email system.

Musselman said he couldn’t answer for the board, but that he expects to not always agree with board members and will stand up for himself.

“I’ll be very honest with the board,” he said.

Board president Victor Abate said Musselman’s leadership skills were a large part of why he was selected as a finalist from a pool of 16 candidates following a four-month search aided by the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

“I’m prepared for him to disagree with us,” Abate said. “We don’t want a yes-man. We want him to bring us fresh ideas.”

The board will vote on his hiring at the June 9 meeting.

The selection of Musselman, a 51-year-old father of four and grandfather of two from Thompsontown, was made after a series of meetings between IU representatives and about 75 faculty, staff, administrators, parents and community members to develop a candidate profile and ensure the district would hire a school leader to address the needs of many.

Among the many personal characteristics cited by the groups as necessary in a superintendent were excellent communication and media relation skills; a strong work ethic; team builder and an agent for “positive change.”

Several were concerned about the high turnover at the top that has caused the district to have six superintendents serve in the last nine years.

According to Mary Curley of the IU, many recommended choosing a candidate with an ability to rebuild trust and one person remarked “If that’s all they do, that may be enough.”

Knapp was among the 20 community members to attend the forum and welcome Musselman to the district. School administrators and board members Abate, Ronald Wilson, Nancy Kroh, Corey Smith, Jeremy Tittle, Shawn Sassaman and Christopher Nesbit were also there.

“I was hoping to hear his vision for the future,” Knapp said.

Musselman said he would wait to get into the district and meet with people before coming up with a plan, but said he’ll work quickly to address the leadership issues and dysfunction by being forthright.

“I debated whether I should seek out the position at Midd-West. I know at the core this is a very solid school district,” he said, before adding, “I like a challenge.”

A graduate of Millersville University and former Army company commander who served in active duty during Operation Desert Storm, Musselman began his education career in 1992 as an industrial arts and construction trades instructor at Juniata County School District.

A few years later he took a teaching job in Newport School District. While there he earned a master’s degree in education administration and elementary principal certification from Shippensburg University and, in 1997, was hired as the assistant high school principal.

In 2000, Musselman became an elementary school principal, later took a position as middle school principal in the district, and after continued studies, was hired to serve as director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

He left Newport in early 2010 for Hanover Public School District where he took a job as assistant superintendent. Two years later Musselman accepted the superintendent position at Juniata, which was struggling with steep deficits that cut funding to several programs.

Musselman is proud of his accomplishments in putting the district back on a good financial track in a mere three years, and said he’ll be as fiscally responsible at Midd-West while ensuring students and teachers have the resources they need.

Juniata continues to struggle academically, though, but Abate said he feels Musselman has the leadership skills to keep Midd-West scores rising.

According to the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Juniata County’s test scores were below Midd-West’s in 2012.

In 2011 and 2012, Midd-West made Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. Of the students tested, 79.3 percent were advanced or proficient in math and scores were higher than the state average, while 7.2 percent tested below basic. A little more than 75 percent of the students scored advanced or proficient in reading and 8.4 percent were below basic.

Juniata County made AYP in 2011, but received a warning for lagging test scores that were below state average in 2012 when 75.2 tested at the advanced or proficient level in math and 9.5 percent tested below basic in math and 67.9 percent were advanced or proficient in reading while 15.6 percent tested below basic in reading.

Text Only
  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor: Rental ban for drug dealers a success

    SUNBURY — A controversial landlord-tenant ordinance passed by the City Council in 2012 has become one of Sunbury’s “better success stories,” Mayor David Persing said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mom cited for allegedly leaving baby in car for 12 minutes

    LEWISBURG — A summary citation carrying a maximum fine of $127.50 was filed Tuesday against a Lewisburg woman accused of leaving her 10-month-old baby unattended for 12 minutes in a car in Union County on July 21.

    July 29, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.