Danville school board fills all seats

Newly appointed Danville Area School Board members Dr. Victor J. Marks, left, Dr. Yohannes Getachew and Jennifer Gurski take the oath of office Wednesday night before taking their seats. Laura Renno, not shown, the school district's transportation coordinator who also is a notary, swore them in.

DANVILLE — The Danville Area School Board is back up to nine members with the appointment of three new school directors on Wednesday night.

Dr. Yohannes Getachew, a Geisinger anesthesiologist, and Dr. Victor J. Marks, a Geisinger dermatologist, were appointed to replace Kevin Brouse and Josh Seidel, respectively, both of whom resigned last month. The board picked the two new members from among eight applicants who each answered three questions from board President Randy Keister.

Both Getachew and Marks will serve through Dec. 1, 2021. The board also appointed Jennifer Gurski to fill Dawn Koons Gill's seat through Dec. 1 of this year. Gill also resigned in September.

Gurski, a former Danville assistant principal and now an education consultant with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, is one of five candidates on the November ballot for five seats on the board. Gill also is on the ballot because she resigned after the deadline to have her name removed. If she refuses to take the seat after the election, the new board will have to appoint someone to replace her, Keister explained.

As the other applicants were sequestered in another room, Keister asked each of them why he or she wanted to be on the board, of what two strengths they felt the district could be proud, and in what two areas the district could do better.

"I have kids," Getachew responded during his interview. "I have a vested interest in the improvement and betterment of the schools."

Getachew, who previously applied for one of two board openings in May, cited the district's academic achievements and the welcoming community as areas where the district could be proud. He said the board needs to work on openness.

"The board needs to work like a team," Getachew said.

"I feel I could make a difference in some small part," Marks said.

He cited the district's strong curriculum for college preparedness and other areas, such as agriculture and vocational-technical training. He said there is so much conflict in the district and contract negotiations that should be addressed.

The other applicants for the two-year seat were Scott L. Shultz, Jake Esenwein, Castan Kiersch, Brandon Koser, April Acor and Dr. Terrance J. Lynn.

The board, before the new appointments, also voted to accept Seidel's resignation.

Superintendent search

Meanwhile, the school board is reopening its superintendent search. Board members voted Wednesday night to hire Rodney L. Green and J. Thomas Frantz for $10,500, and an additional allotment for expenses not to exceed $1,800, to advertise for a superintendent and review applications. Both are former superintendents in Pennsylvania. Keister said no decisions will be made until the new board members take their seats in December.

Keister also reported district negotiators offered the teachers union a two-year contract with raises of 2.85 percent each year "to get us through this period of new board members, a superintendent search."

District negotiators will meet again with the union.

The previous seven-year contract expired June 30.

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