Share This Page

Penn-Trafford School Board names Harris as superintendent

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Matt Harris converted a six-month tryout into a contract as Penn-Trafford's new superintendent.

By hiring Harris on Monday night as the top administrator, school board members returned to their recent practice of promoting from within, as they had done with Joseph A. Marasti and Deborah Kolonay. The board deviated from that convention in 2011, when its members chose Tom Butler — who then was the superintendent of Ridgway Area School District in Elk County — to replace the retiring Kolonay.

Since August, Harris had been the interim superintendent after Butler left to become the head of Altoona-based Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8.

Harris, the father of three children in the district, came to Penn-Trafford in 2007 as assistant principal for Level Green and Harrison Park elementary schools. The Hempfield native moved up the administrative ladder as others retired and filled multiple roles until becoming assistant superintendent in 2012.

Saying Harris “bleeds green and gold,” school board President Toni Ising called him the “right person at the right time” for Penn-Trafford.

“He wants this district to be No. 1, not because it's a point on his resume but because it's his district,” Ising said.

Harris' contract runs through the summer of 2017. The permanent job comes with a pay raise that Harris did not receive during the interim appointment. Harris' annual salary is increasing from $124,640 to $129,000, but he will not get a raise in the 2014-15 budget.

School board members are trying to get others to accept pay freezes next year. Last fall, the union representing the district's paraprofessionals, custodians and secretaries agreed to a freeze.

Among the goals for the next few months, Harris said, will be the selection of a new assistant superintendent, whose job likely will begin in the new budget year on July 1. High school Principal Scott Inglese has been handling those duties for the past half year.

District officials also are negotiating a new contract with the teachers union, finalizing the bidding specifications for a high school remodeling project and preparing to review other building needs as they plan for declining enrollment.

Harris also laid out a series of long-term curriculum goals, including implementing foreign-language programs for middle school students and more opportunities for customizing learning for individual elementary students.

“I like being active, so I'm up for the challenge,” Harris said.

Shaun Rinier, president of the Penn-Trafford Education Association, the teachers union, has backed Harris's selection since Butler's departure. He congratulated the board for its hiring.

“I think you picked a good guy, and I think the staff will be more than pleased,” Rinier said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.