Share This Page

Mt. Pleasant Area School Board opens superintendent's contract

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 7:02 a.m.
Robert Gumbita (left), Mt. Pleasant Area School Board president; Terry Struble, superintendent; and Michael Picarsic, director of elementary and secondary eduation, listen to more than an hour of public comment on Monday asking the board not to open Struble’s contract. Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier jan 14 2013

Mt. Pleasant Area School Board, by a vote of 5-4, decided on Monday night to open the district superintendent's contract despite more than an hour of comments in support of the administrator.

Opening the contract of Superintendent Terry Struble is the first step to moving the district in a different direction, according to board member David Brooks.

Brooks 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.

“You can only imagine how agonizing this decision was, but we are in a position to weigh the pros and cons of what Mr. Struble did or didn't do,” he added. “I can't cite specific incidents or reasons for the decision, but it was made after careful review of the past five years.

“This vote was not a unanimous decision by the board, but it is unanimous among board members that the district needs a change, and I felt this was the best first step,” Brooks said.

Also voting to open the contract, which expires on June 30, were directors Rick Albright, Ed Malone, Denver Hudec and Jim McElfresh. Directors Tara Leeder, Annette Wisneski, Robert Gumbita and George Hare voted against the move.

The district will now begin the search for a new superintendent.

Dozens of individuals, from at least 100 supporters, stood up to comment on why Struble should remain district superintendent.

Resident Andrea Pritts called Struble decent, hardworking, selfless, dedicated and a man with strong values.

Pastor Tim Hoover asked board members to look around the room and see all of the individuals who had come out to show their support for Struble.

“Mr. Struble attends as many functions as possible and parents are able to get to know him and feel connected to him,” Hoover said. “He does this willingly and, sometimes, at the sacrifice of his own family.”

Ninth-grade student Ben Pimental said one time he passed Struble in the hall and asked how he was.

“He told me that he was at school, so he couldn't be anything but great,” Pimental said. “He is extremely devoted to his job and by removing him from the position he has most definitely earned is not in the best interest of the students or the community.”

Parent Shelly Rimmel told board members of a personal story involving her daughter that Struble took a personal interest in helping to resolve.

“He is not above anything,” she said. “He will wipe tables or load the band busses — whatever is needed.”

Resident Jason Hutter said he, as well as most parents, know Struble very well because he's accessible and attends so many student functions.

“I couldn't even name two of you board members,” he said. “Where are you guys at sporting events or awards banquets.”

Former board member Frank Gnibus urged the board to do what is right.

“Whether you open his contract or give him another contract, you know what this man has done and what he hasn't done, and if you vote a certain way because you're worried about not getting votes at election time, that's what the shame is,” he said.

Wisneski said she didn't always agree with actions Struble has taken, but leaders aren't born — they're made.

“I hoped the board would have been confident that we could tailor the superintendent into what we wanted with a man who already had a lot of the qualities we were looking for rather than starting over,” she said.

Wisneski added, however, that the board does work very well together to do what is best for the district.

“It's a dichotomy to say we know things you don't, but you just have to trust us,” she said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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.