Eric Holtzman becomes president of school board


Eric Holtzman was elected president of the Greencastle-Antrim Board of School Directors at the organizational meeting Dec. 1. Re-elected in November along with Melinda Cordell, they and new members Ken Haines, Mike Still and Tracy Baer were sworn in by business manager Richard Lipella. Brian Hissong was named vice president.

The election was not routine. With the floor open, Mike Shindle/Bill Thorne nominated 2011 president Joel Fridgen. Baer/Still then nominated Holtzman.

Fridgen lost 4-5, with Cordell, Fridgen, Shindle and Thorne voting for him; Baer, Haines, Hissong, Holtzman and Still voting against him. Holtzman then won 5-4, with each side flipping their votes. Hissong was elected with seven in favor, his own abstention, and Fridgen's no. Fridgen said he had no problem with Hissong serving, but since he had nominated Shindle, who he believed had done a fine job as vice president the past year, he felt obligated to support him. That vote did not take place since Hissong had the majority.

Holtzman presided over the rest of the meeting. He said he sought the presidency "to see opportunity for different people to be in the position." He planned to continue to lead the district in its direction with a balanced budget and increased use of technology. "I want opportunities for students, such as online courses. We need to do a lot of work there."

Hissong said he voted against Fridgen "for change", but could not elaborate. Holtzman was "fresh blood."

Haines vote no the first round "so I could vote yes to Eric. I'm a firm believer to keep moving. Do what you can do, then let the next guy come in."

Fridgen presented a prepared statement on his no vote for Holtzman, since he had been alerted ahead of time he would be unseated. He expressed reserve that Holtzman's job as business manager of the Tuscarora School District could blur the separation between the two local independent school districts.

"G-ASD has embraced a consistent vision for the past 20 years with a strategy and methodology to achieve it. Everyone understands our professional staff is paid more than other districts in the county. Is it in his interests (as TSD business manager) to see that gap be narrowed? Will recommendations be made to cut programs or adapt policies that are not in the best interests of G-ASD but more in alignment with the practices of Tuscarora? I am not saying this will happen. I am not willing to take that risk."

He concluded, "It will be interesting to see this unfold in 2012 and beyond. I wish Eric nothing but the best in his new responsibilities as board president."

Fridgen said he was asked to serve as president in 2011 after Arnie Jansen resigned, and he did not campaign to become president in 2012.

During the short meeting, the board accepted the retirement of elementary teacher Sue McLaughlin, effective the last day of the school year, and the resignation of elementary teacher Deb Wine, effective Jan. 13.