Clearfield Area votes to hire Mt. Pleasant Area's Struble as superintendent
With just 63 days remaining on his contract as superintendent of Mt. Pleasant Area School District, Terry Struble was hired Monday as superintendent at Clearfield Area School District, effective July 1, in a unanimous vote by the district's school board.
“I was approved by their board at last night's meeting, 8-0, and July 1 will be my official start date,” Struble said. “I'm looking forward to a new opportunity.”
The length of Struble's contract and details of compensation are still in negotiation, according to Thomas Otto, the current Clearfield Area superintendent.
On Jan. 14, the Mt. Pleasant Area school board voted, 5-4, to open Struble's contract despite more than an hour of comments in support of the administrator.
Those who voted to open the contract, which expires on June 30, were board directors Rick Albright, David Brooks, Denver Hudec, Ed Malone and Jim McElfresh. Board President Robert Gumbita and fellow directors Tara Leeder, Annette Wisneski and George Hare voted against the move.
At the time, Brooks reportedly said he voted to open the contract because “for me, I think the district needed a change in direction and I think that change starts at the top.”
Following the decision, Struble said he began seeking employment elsewhere on his own time while continuing to fulfill his responsibilities as Mt. Pleasant Area's administrative executive, a position he was hired to fill in 2008.
In March, Struble said he learned of the planned resignation of Otto, who was hired earlier this year as superintendent of Altoona Area School District, also effective July 1.
“Someone that was familiar with the Clearfield Area School District referred me to the opening,” Struble said. “I got opportunity to do two interviews with the school board, I got to meet with the board there. I had very good feelings about their board, they seem to work well together and they have a great focus on where they're headed as a district.”
Prior to voting Struble in as superintendent, Clearfield Area officials recently contacted Gumbita to seek his recommendation of the district's targeted candidate, he said.
“I'm not surprised he was chosen. I think he did an excellent job for us at Mt. Pleasant. He was very talented, very knowledgeable, I'm sure he'll do an excellent job there,” Gumbita said.
Gumbita said Tuesday that the Mt. Pleasant Area school board scheduled an executive session to take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with Luanne Matta, director of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, to further advance the district's search for Struble's replacement.
“Right now, we advertised for the position, and we've gotten 13 candidates who have applied. My understanding is that five of them are acting superintendents.” Gumbita said.
“From that, we will set up interviews with candidates and start interviewing in May. Hopefully, we will have somebody named by July 1.”
Gumbita said he plans to sit down with Struble and go over how best to handle the transition between now and his June 30 departure date.
“He's a very responsible superintendent; I know he's not going to leave this district in the lurch before he leaves,” Gumbita said.
Since the majority of the board voted to relieve him of his duties, Gumbita said Struble “has not missed a beat” in executing his ongoing job duties.
“You'd think, in that situation, he'd be taking his vacation days, using that time up, just saying ‘Well, you weren't interested in keeping me,' and moving on,” Gumbita said. “But he hasn't; he's in the office early in the morning and late at night.
When asked for further details on what prompted the board to open Struble's contract, Gumbita pointed to those who voted to approve the move.“My point is, unless you've showed some kind of incompetence in your position, I'm not going to get rid of you,” Gumbita said. “He never did.”
However, Struble said he harbors no animosity toward the board for its decision.
“I've always been very thankful for this district and for this opportunity,” he said. “I wish them the best as they go through their process to find a new superintendent here.”
In the meantime, Struble will be spending nights and weekends preparing to relocate his family, which includes his wife, Kim, and three daughters, Brittany, 14; Ashley, 11; and Beth, 8, to Clearfield County, which is a two-hour drive from Mt. Pleasant.
“We'll be moving over the summer. In Clearfield, we have no ties. Those remain to be learned yet,” Struble said.
“It's more of a process. Just that long process of knowing there would be something out there, finding the right fit, and finding that spot where you can feel most comfortable to do your best.”
A 1987 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate, Struble was previously a physics teacher at Grove City Area School District before he was hired in 2000 as assistant principal at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School.
He became the school's principal in 2004.
In 2006 and 2007, Struble took part in and completed the superintendent letter of eligibility program at Gannon University.
In 2008, the district school board voted to make him superintendent.
Otto, who has served as Clearfield Area School District superintendent since 2011, endorsed the man who soon will replace him there.
“I think the first indication is that the board voted, 8-0; it was unanimous,” Otto said.
“He represented himself extremely well through the process, everyone is extremely positive about him coming on board, so I think it's going to be a pretty good match.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.