Columbia Borough School District has made its sixth change to superintendent in seven years.
The school board on Thursday night hired Ashley Mercado, the principal of Lancaster's Wickersham Elementary School, as Columbia's new superintendent. Mercado's first day will be Jan. 2, 2021, after students return from winter break.
In an abrupt response to the hire, current Superintendent Tom Strickler will go on paid administrative leave until his contract expires Dec. 31.The board unanimously approved Mercado's appointment and Strickler's leave, and then it named Gregory McGough, the district's director of curriculum, as interim superintendent until Mercado takes over.
School board Vice President Kathleen Hohenadel declined to answer questions about Strickler's leave prior to the meeting. Instead, school board President Charles Leader sent a prepared statement, which he also read aloud during the meeting. The board and Strickler "mutually agreed" to the leave, according to the statement.