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Herko leaving P-R board; accepts job at Pepperdine

| Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 4:22 p.m.

Longtime education watchdog Rich Herko, 41, of Pine is leaving Pine-Richland School Board for sunny California.

"I've accepted a position with Pepperdine University," said Herko, a doctoral degree candidate at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Herko expects to receive his doctorate next month and report to his new job on Aug. 1 in Malibu, Calif.

"I'll be teaching strategic (business) management at the graduate level. Right now, I teach undergraduate strategic management," said Herko, who joined Pine-Richland School Board in 2005.

He and his wife, Dawn, a research chemist, are looking for a new home in Conejo Valley northwest of Los Angeles.

Their daughter, Annika, a third-grader at Wexford Elementary School, is looking forward to surfing, skiing and regularly visiting Disneyland, according to her dad.

"We're really excited," Herko said. "I've already bought a new pair of hiking boots. My wife is buying me a new bike."

Herko plans to resign May 7 from Pine-Richland School Board, creating a vacancy that fellow school directors hope to fill on May 10.

Pine-Richland School District is accepting resumes from people who wish to fill Herko's seat.

Prospective replacements must live in Region No. 1 of the school district, which includes voting districts Nos. 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8 in Pine Township.

School board members will interview all candidates during a public meeting set for 7 p.m. May 10 in the DeWitt Blank Conference Room at the administration offices of Pine Richland School District (Pine-Richland High School), 702 Warrendale Road, Pine.

The school directors plan to select Herko's replacement that same night.

So far, four people have expressed an interest in filling Herko's seat, said Tara Bennett, school board secretary.

Prospective replacements must fill out an application, available online, and submit a one- or two-page resume.

Serving on the school board is "as much work as you want to put into it," said Herko, whose current term expires in December 2013. "There's certainly a lot of reading that we have to do."

Herko said he feels good about helping to select a number of the district's current staff, including Superintendent Mary Bucci, and helping to guide the expansion of Pine-Richland High School.

In addition to departing Pine-Richland School Board, Herko is vacating his post as president of the board of directors of A.W. Beattie Career Center in McCandless.

At the career center, Herko helped to oversee a $22 million renovation project, and to launch a Mandarin Chinese language program - at the suggestion of area auto dealers facing an influx of auto parts made in China.

After his own graduation from Penn State University with a degree in economics, Herko joined the U.S. Army.

"I went into the Army on a Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship and spent some time on active duty, and then went into the Reserves and started working for Fortune 500 companies. I worked for Sears, then PNC," he said. "While I was at PNC, I got my MBA at the University of Pittsburgh."

A Lackawanna County native, Herko grew up in Bucks County and used to commute from Pittsburgh to Maine when he worked for a former Internet firm.

"I'm used to moving," he said. "I was stationed briefly at Fort Lee, Va. I did a little bit of time in Germany. I did a little bit of time in Washington state. I've lived in Ohio. I've been all over the place.

"For me, it's fun to explore new places," Herko said. "I'm trying to decide whether I want to be a Dodgers or Angels fan."

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