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PENNS MANOR: Directors name interim superintendent

by SAM KUSIC on January 17, 2014 11:00 AM

KENWOOD — The Penns Manor Area school directors have asked Principal Daren Johnston to stand at the district’s helm while it searches for a new superintendent.

At a meeting Thursday, the board appointed Johnston as interim superintendent on an 8-0 vote.

“I appreciate the confidence that you, the school board, have in appointing me acting superintendent,” Johnston told the board following the vote.

He is taking over for Thomas “T.J.” Kakabar, who resigned last month for the superintendent’s job in the Conemaugh Township Area School District in Somerset County. Kakabar lives in Cambria County, and the move put him closer to home.

Kakabar had been with Penns Manor Area for a little more than seven years.

Johnston, 44, has served as the district’s high school principal since the fall of 2004. A Marion Center Area graduate, he holds a master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is pursuing his superintendent’s certification through Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

The board set his annualized salary at $110,000.

Calling Johnston a solid leader who is engaged with the community, board President Robert Packer said the district is fortunate to have him step into the role.

Packer also said the board believes they will be able to work well with Johnston.

“His values really parallel those of the board.”

The search for a permanent replacement hasn’t yet begun, and Packer said that work is to begin later this year. However, it very well could be that the district has already found its man for the job — Johnston is to be a candidate, Packer said.

He added that it is a seller’s market right now for public school superintendents.

“There’s not a big pool of candidates,” he said.

With Johnston temporarily stepping into the superintendent’s role, the board intends to name an interim high school principal. Packer said the board might appoint a candidate for that job next month.

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