A-C School District names superintendent successor in process some call rushed

4 min read2,545 views and 79 shares Posted November 12, 2019

Over the past few weeks, Annville-Cleona School District has quickly—and quietly—selected a successor to current superintendent Dr. Cheryl A. Potteiger.

According to board documents, Potteigier submitted her resignation request at an Oct. 14 board meeting. The resignation was accepted as effective June 30, 2020.

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Her replacement, current Annville-Cleona Secondary School principal Dr. Krista M. Antonis, was confirmed in a meeting held last night. Antonis was awarded a four-year contract commencing July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2024.

You can read the district’s full statement below.

LebTown does not cover school districts comprehensively at this point due to our limited resources, and so we were not able to attend either the October meeting or last night’s session. We have however heard from multiple readers who reached out to LebTown citing concerns that the process to replace Potteiger lacked transparency.

The decision comes right after this month’s Lebanon County municipal elections, held last Tuesday, in which preliminary results indicated that three new members would be joining the board. Sitting board members Sara Fiebig and Mark Frattarole did not run for re-election, and Jennifer Ulsh did not run to keep the position to which she was appointed by the board in Feb. 2018.

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Late last week LebTown was first informed of the possibility that Potteiger would be replaced at Monday’s meeting, with a reader describing the process as a “rush.” We reached out to Potteiger on Sunday via a phone call and email. We also contacted board secretary Stacie Hill via email on Sunday.

On Sunday, LebTown was contacted by incoming board member Geoffrey Roche, who cited concerns that the process was not as open or transparent as it should be. “This is not the type of decision that should be rushed,” said Roche on Sunday. “It needs to be a very strategic, deliberate, and engaging one which affords the opportunity for new Board members to be involved as well as our residents and A-C community.” Roche said that the agenda containing the item to vote on Antonis had only been released the day before the meeting.

Another current board member, Dr. Natalie Duvall, whose term does not expire this year was contacted by LebTown Monday afternoon and declined to comment, stating that the board president had said that the district’s solicitor would work through media questions via a press release after the meeting.

Emails sent to solicitor Brian Boland, an attorney for Berks-based Kozloff Stoudt, did not receive a response.

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Hill responded to a followup message from LebTown on Tuesday morning, directing us to the statement below.

Potteiger had not responded to LebTown inquiries at time of publication Tuesday.

Reached Tuesday morning, Roche shared a statement that he presented to the board before yesterday’s vote was taken:

It is my understanding based on the agenda that you are proposing to appoint Dr. Krista Antonis as the next Superintendent. As a Board committed to transparency and doing what’s truly in the best interests of our school district and community, I would like to respectfully ask you to consider tabling this vote and rather engaging in an open and thoughtful search process.

In speaking with many members of our community, this decision would truly set us back not because of the nominee but because of the process. I truly believe it makes better sense to engage in a search that allows internal and external candidates to apply and then be considered by all stakeholders as part of a transparent, public process. In the end, Dr. Antonis may emerge as the strongest candidate but we would then be able to demonstrate that this was a decision that was made after a deliberate, thoughtful, and public search process.

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Roche followed up to note that his main concern is with the lack of a public process. “I absolutely wish Dr. Antonis all the best as she prepares to lead our school district and I look forward to working with her to support and advance education throughout Annville-Cleona,” he said.

LebTown also reached out to all current board members offering a chance to comment on this story. In response to this inquiry, Fiebig shared with us the statement included below, adding that, “We are excited about this decision and our future with Dr. Antonis at the helm.”

As of the time we published this article, LebTown had not heard from any other board members.

This is a developing story and we will update this post as further comments/context are shared with us.

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Statement from Annville-Cleona School District

Annville-Cleona School District has named Dr. Krista M. Antonis as the next superintendent of schools starting July 1, 2020 to succeed Dr. Cheryl Potteiger.

Dr. Antonis is currently the principal of Annville-Cleona Secondary School and has experience in teaching and being an administrator in every grade level, K-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Secondary English Education, her Reading Specialist Certification and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State Harrisburg, and her Doctorate in School Systems Leadership from Widener University.

After thoughtful consideration, the board is excited to be able to build on the momentum Dr. Antonis has had in leading the Secondary School over the past two years. She has demonstrated that decisions are made with a student-first mindset and are made in collaboration with stakeholders. During an interview with the school board, Dr. Antonis shared that appreciative inquiry and servant leadership are at the forefront of her leadership style. She has demonstrated that she is invested in the Annville-Cleona community and has open and honest lines of communication with students, staff, and community members she interacts with.

Making this important decision at this time was necessary to begin the transition process in the district. We as a board believe we have a strong leader who will continue to build relationships and will continue to provide vision and stability in the district.

Do you have comments or reactions to this story? You can reach our newsroom using the form below.

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This article has been updated to specify the board member who declined comment on Monday. We originally omitted the name as LebTown did not reach out to all board members on Monday and wanted to avoid singling one out. However, as a reader pointed out, the member is a public official and was making a comment knowingly to the press. As such, we have updated the article to include the name.

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