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Southmoreland names new business manager

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

A new business manager has been appointed for the Southmoreland School District.

School directors voted 6-2 this week to appoint James Marnell to the position. Voting in favor of the motion were board President Levi Miller and fellow school directors James Beistel, Gail Rhodes, Aimee Love, Jason Pawlikowsky and Michael Bentz. Voting against the motion were school directors Catherine Fike and Ken Alt. School Director Josie Kauffman was not in attendance

Marnell is currently serving as interim business manager for the Steel Valley School District. He also spent time as the interim business manager of the Northern Cambria School District and served as business manager of the Ligonier Valley School District for more than 20 years. Marnell was given a three-year contract with a starting salary of $90,000.

Superintendent John Molnar said Marnell will begin at Southmoreland after giving two weeks' notice to Steel Valley.

Marnell replaces Bill Salem. The board accepted Salem's resignation in January after 18 months on the job. Salem replaced longtime business manger Bill Porter, who had retired.

“I think he brings a great deal of experience to the district,” Molnar said after the meeting. “He is well respected among any other business manager in the county that I have spoken to. We're excited to have someone to provide both expertise and stability to our business office.”

Molnar said there were five candidates who met the qualifications the district sought. Two were brought in for a second interview.

“On the interview committee were three administrators and three board members and Dr. Fike as an observer,” Molnar explained. “The second round of interviews were held, one board member had to work and neither Dr. Fike nor Mr. Alt came to the second round of interviews. At that round of interviews, there were two individuals, one of whom was chosen. They were both very competent individuals. We thought Mr. Marnell brought a little more experience to meet our needs.”

Fike expressed displeasure with the process used to select a new business manager.

“This was the most unethical, underhanded process I have ever seen in my life,” Fike said. “I'm absolutely sick about what this board has and has not done.”

Alt said he agreed with Fike's thoughts when he cast his vote.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media.

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