PENNS MANOR: New school board member ready to start term
January 09, 2014 10:50 AM

KENWOOD — Penns Manor Area School District’s newest school board member said he hopes to continue and improve educational opportunities that the school provides.

Richard Polenik, 42, of Pine Township, will fill a Region III vacancy on the board through December 2015.

He was selected by school directors last week at a special meeting. A seat on the school board was left open in November after a write-in candidate declined to take the position.

Polenik, a Penns Manor Area graduate himself, said he’s looking forward to learning how the school board works and fostering participation of both the district’s students and adults.

“(When) trying to have children succeed,” he said, “it’s best to have an adult encouraging those children to succeed.”

One of the priorities he sees for the board is selecting a replacement for Superintendent Thomas “T.J.” Kakabar, who resigned last month to take a superintendent job in the Conemaugh Township Area School District.

“I think T.J. did a fine job over the last seven years,” he said.

“Filling that role and keeping that going for the school is one of the first things at hand.”

He praised the strengths of the district’s teaching staff as well as its administrative leadership and facilities.

“I think there are some opportunities there to be conducive to a good learning experience,” he said.

He said he sees potential for the school to improve state testing scores.

Polenik is a senior civil engineer supervisor at Penn-DOT District 10 in Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Penn State University.

He has been at PennDOT, he said, for 19 years.

He works with the construction unit there, dealing with highways, transportation and infrastructure.

Polenik’s family includes wife Terri, also a native of the area, and their two children, Alex, 7, and Allison, 10, who both attend school in the district.

In his free time, Polenik said, he stays busy with his family.

“Spending time with the kids, that’s a good part of my life right now,” he said.

School board President Robert Packer said Polenik has been very active in the school.

“I think Rich is a good fit with the board,” he said.

Polenik will attend his first meeting as a school board member tonight, at the director’s committee meeting, to be held at 7:30 in the district administration building.

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