Monday, July 11, 2016

Columbia School Board - Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions have been swirling around town since the June 16 Columbia Borough School Board meeting. Changes, resignations, and appointments are making the actions of the board look like a veritable chess game.

Board President Tom Strickler resigned after announcing his intention to apply for an administrative position with ELANCO.
Strickler's resignation is effective July 18 at 11:59 p.m.

In a unanimous vote, the board appointed board member Cole Knighton as president, despite his less than desirable attendance record over the past four years, specifically:

In 2013: Twelve regular board meetings: He attended seven. (58%)

In 2014: Eleven regular board meetings with recorded attendance: He attended four. (36%)

In 2015:. Twelve regular board meetings: He attended seven. (58%)

In 2016: Six regular board meetings to date: He has so far attended all six. (100%)

In 2015, board members Alysa Poindexter and Cole Knighton both missed the first three consecutive meetings of the year. By the March 2015 meeting, both Knighton and Poindexter had reached a point in which their attendance was an issue, according to bylaws. They both remained on the board, but Poindexter eventually resigned in June, having missed a total of six consecutive meetings. Knighton kept his seat.

According to Section 319 of 1949 Act 14, adopted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly:
"If any person having qualified as school director and any qualified school director who is a member of a joint board or who is selected as a member of a joint school committee or who is a member of a joint school committee by virtue of the provisions of a joint board agreement shall neglect or refuse to attend two successive regular meetings of the school board, joint board or joint school committee, unless detained by sickness, or prevented by necessary absence from the district, or if in attendance at any meetings shall neglect or refuse to act in his official capacity as a school director, the remaining members of the board may declare his office as director vacant. His office shall be filled from the qualified electors of the district."

No other candidates - including Board Vice President Kathleen Hohenadel - were considered for the position vacated by Strickler. (According to our records, Hohenadel has had 100% attendance at meetings.)

A vacant position will be created when Strickler's resignation becomes effective and Knighton steps in as president. The position was advertised in the June 29 edition of the Merchandiser:

The deadline to apply for the position is August 1, 2016.

On a related note, board member Fran Resch resigned effective May 31, and the board appointed Keith Combs to fill the vacancy.

Strickler recused himself from part of the regular board meeting of May 12 due to his intention to apply for a Director of District Operations position, the posting for which is shown here:

The director will oversee operations at Columbia School District but will be an employee of ELANCO and will report to the ELANCO superintendent. Columbia taxpayers will foot the bill for the director and a four-day-a-month interim superintendent to the tune of $165,000 annually . . . $85,000 to $99,000 of which will be paid to the director. Reportedly, the superintendent will not receive additional compensation except for travel expenses, etc.

Part of Strickler's resume publicly available on the internet, shows the following:

His resume also lists 18 positions and titles he has held over the past 37 years, as well as a BS in Business Administration from Elizabethtown College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.  



  1. Tough to digest all this! Looked for the announcement at the Eastern Lancaster County SD Website; it's not there. But then, the announcement was released on June 21 and closed on June 30. Quite a short time, considering the credentials sought and the pay and benefits scale.

    Isn't it curious it wasn't listed at Columbia Borough School District's Website, other employment sites, in area media or education employment sites?


    University of Phoenix:

  2. I would think you should have a background in the education field.If he had 18 jobs in 37 years, that is a new job every 2 years. Not to stable work history. Also, I think the salary is way to high. He spoke of keeping the district's expenses in line when he was on the board, the salary should be examined. I also feel bad for Kathy,.perfect attendance and not promoted to president,something does not jive.


  4. This ridiculous salary is one of the reasons we need to consolidate. This is money that's not going to the classrooms to help the kids. It is sickening to see people living so good off the money allocated to teaching the kids

  5. Yes, consolidate. This school district is not turning out achievers. The high school hallways during change of classes is like a zoo!! Kids shoving each other, shouting profanities and the teachers hide in their classrooms. Rude disrespectful behavior is not addressed. No high standards in that place at all!!! I don't understand how parents justify sending their children their and not demand change. Each parent, who cares, should shadow their child for a day. They would be shocked to see the kids sleeping in class, calling out at will, leaving the classrooms, walking the halls unattended. The list goes on and on!! I know this all to be true!

  6. This district.does not.have extra money laying around why would they make a new position for. Mr.Stickler this is not fair to the. tax payers we are trying to save money not spend more money this nis not good for the. town or the children in the school district it will do.a thing for them or give them a better education.

  7. Parents need to be notified and the out of control, disrespectful children need to be sent home! It's not day care, parents need to be held accountable also.
    Teach the children, they are your future.
    Thank God I'll be leaving this town soon, it's nuts!

  8. dont get me started. i will never understand that school board ALWAYS votes to increase our taxes. hell we can't afford them now. and they have to pay them too. unless thats not a problem for all of them. CONSOLIDATE. Mr Strickler just shit on you all, in case you didn't notice.

    1. Well Tom will be able to afford them soon! That's all that matters. He is and always has been self serving.

  9. Call their parents? Their parents don't care. Call their parents and the parents threaten to beat up the teachers. The whole school needs either an overhaul or consolidation. They don't even have many AP classes (advanced placement). So many seniors now graduate having already taken college level courses not happening there for sure!

  10. Someone needs to get their facts straight. Strickler has not missed a meeting in many years. Check and see how many committee meetings Miss Hoenadel Missed. Also in today's job market many jobs are eliminated especially those in Harrisburg when an administration changes. Tom Strickler would do a good job but some are afraid he will not take their bullshit.

    1. The attendance record listed is for Knighton. There is no mention of Strickler's attendance. Clearly stated is that the attendance records used in this article are based on regular board meetings only, not committees.

  11. How about the children attendance.
    They are your future,,,
    Fine the parents!

  12. I would rather see someone like Tom Strickler assisting in the management of the District than someone who knows nothing about Columbia. A good manager. Of people does not necessarily need to be a former teacher as Ms. Heonadel suggests. The track record shows that other than Ken Klawetter, who helped craft this innovative strategy, we have not had the greatest leadership. People need to keep their personal bitches aside and do what is right. This is Columbia's biggest problem.

  13. One fact is,,, Columbia Pushes Students thru who need serious HELP