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Koren to leave for Homer-Center job

| Friday, June 1, 2012, 10:37 p.m.

Franklin Regional officials have begun the search to replace a third top-level administrator.

Charles Koren, assistant superintendent of human resources, will leave the district June 30 to assume the top position at Homer-Center School District in Indiana County.

School board President Herb Yingling said Koren notified the district last month and officials began a state-wide search for a replacement.

"He was an asset to the district," Yingling said. "It's not going to be easy to replace him, but it's something that we have to do."

Koren's resignation comes one month after Frank Muto, the district's long-time technology director, notified officials that he will retire in July. Superintendent Emery D'Arcangelo will retire in April 2013.

While the school board plans to do an intensive search for its next superintendent, Koren was expected to be in the running to become D'Arcangelo's successor, Yingling said. "It was bad timing for Dr. Koren," he said. "(The Homer-Center job) was a guaranteed position. Ours isn't being filled until next April. This was something he couldn't pass up."

Koren has been instrumental in bringing well-qualified administrators into the district in recent years, Yingling said. Among the administrators Koren recommended the board hire are current director of special education services Richard Regelski, director of financial services Jon Perry, new supervisor of technology services Brad Schrencengost and former director of financial services George Saffin.

Yingling said it will be tough to replace Koren without having the man who organized the interview process.

Long-time school board member Roberta Cook said she hopes the board hires someone who will keep with the current culture in the district.

"We have a lot of new personnel coming in over the next year, and I hope we maintain a culture of excellence in academics and continue to put that first," Cook said. "Charlie was a good hire. He's done an excellent job and is very calm and even-handed in negotiations."

Koren, along with D'Arcangelo, was instrumental in negotiating a teacher concession package and contract extension last spring, Yingling said.

Cook credits Koren with staying even-keeled and making sure everyone comes out even from negotiations.

"In negotiations, you have to realize that nobody wins or takes advantage of the other side," Cook said. "He understands the law and is very patient with negotiations. Don't take things personally, don't storm off."

Those qualities are part of what drew Homer-Center to Koren, said Vicki Smith, president of the Homer-Center School Board. She cited Koren's experience at smaller schools - before spending nearly five years at Franklin Regional, he worked in private schools, including the Diocese of Greensburg - as well as his experience leading a larger district.

"He is a good fit for our district," Smith said. "He's very highly ethical and really hard working. I think he will get his boots on the job and get off running for us."

Koren said he is looking forward to taking the reins at Homer-Center, but will miss the environment and people at Franklin Regional.

"I've been very fortunate to work here," Koren said. "I realize how professional and efficient this organization is while keeping the focus on its mission to provide excellence. It's been a very nice place to work and I'm taking away more than I left."

Koren will earn $115,000 in the first of his three-year contract with Homer-Center. He earned $96,434 this year at Franklin Regional.

D'Arcangelo said Koren will be a great addition to the Homer-Center staff and will be missed at Franklin Regional. D'Arcangelo agreed that Koren's experience at Franklin Regional will help him succeed in his new post.

"Those learning opportunities have prepared him to take the next step in his professional career," D'Arcangelo said.

The board will accept Koren's resignation at the June 18 meeting. Yingling said the board hopes to have Koren's successor selected by August.

The board will begin working on a search to replace D'Arcangelo soon, as well.

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