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Shaler school board bids farewell to 3 members

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

The Shaler Area School Board said goodbye to three outgoing school board members at its November meeting and recognized one who already left, as the board prepares for one of the largest turnovers in recent years.

With the completion of the November general election, four new members will take their seats on the school board.

In Region 1, Timothy Gapsky and April Kwiatkowski will replace Mary Lou Dixon and Dean Ingold, who did not seek re-election. In Region 2, Suzanna Donahue replaced former Vice President Domenic Donovan. Donahue has been in that position since Donovan resigned in June ahead of his term expiration. In Region 3, Steve Romac will replace board President Jim Giel who lost the election.

The district administrators honored Dixon, Ingold, Giel and Donovan for their service at the school board's Nov. 13 meeting.

Superintendent Wes Shipley said that since he came to the district in 2011, he has worked with the board through challenges such as the countywide reassessment, Act 1 Index limitations, a ductwork collapse at Shaler Area Elementary School, the state Common Core mandates and contract negotiations with the Teamsters and teachers union.

“Through it all, the board has helped move out Project ACE to move us toward the 21st century,” said Shipley, referring to Project Advancing Classroom Education, which has the goal of integrating iPad tablets into the classrooms across the district.

Former Superintendent Don Lee, who retired in 2011, returned to the board room to acknowledge the work each of the outgoing board members contributed to during his tenure from 1997 to 2011 and thank them for their service to the district.

“It's a thankless job, a job where you don't get paid, and you had a difficult year,” Lee said. “But you provided a service that is unparalleled.”

While Donovan served on the board for three years, Dixon, Ingold and Giel totaled a combined 37 years on the school board.

Each outgoing board member received a token of appreciation from Shipley on behalf of the district.

Giel, who served on the board for 16 years, with the past 11 years as board president, thanked the district and community for the opportunity to serve the school district.

“The responsibility you gave me to be the face of this community is awesome,” he said.

While he admitted that being on the school board is not an easy job, he said he is confident in the improvements that the district made during the outgoing board members' tenure.

“We aim to leave it a little better place than it was,” he said, “and we did.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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