Winslow emerges from the pack as school board appointment


The appointment of a school board member was somewhat dramatic Dec. 19, and 15 audience members watched as three candidates were nominated before one finally won a majority vote. Jim Winslow, who was on the general election ballot in November but fell short, received the nod to serve two years. He will fill the vacated seat of Todd Kirkwood, who resigned after winning a four year term due to his employment with the federal government. The Greencastle-Antrim School District board of school directors interviewed five people who submitted letters of interest to serve until the next election in 2015. The person then has the option to file to run again.

The candidates were Winslow, Kirkwood, Jon Baker, Ed Jackson and Mike Shindle. They were interviewed by board president Brian Hissong, Ken Haines, Lura Hanks, Eric Holtzman, Tracy Baer, Linda Farley and Mike Still. Melinda Cordell was absent.

The interviews

Each candidate was asked the same questions, one from each school board member.

Winslow had a background in managing contracts and budgets. He considered education one of the most important things to give children and wanted his own to have opportunities. A successful school district was that in which the students could apply in life what they had learned in school. He promised to be honest and fair.

Baker was a technology professional and had served on the Shippensburg Borough Council for four years before moving to Greencastle. He felt it was important to become involved in the community. As a legacy on serving on the board, he would want to be remembered as someone with insight, who had something to say and did not just go with the flow.

Shindle, who just completed eight years on the board, had not run for re-election because of a difficult decision the group had made. While he supported the action of outsourcing some departments, he knew half of the 59 employees whose positions had been turned over to other companies, and needed to step away for a while. However, he believed his experience operating the water plant at a college, and his time on the board already would be useful with contract negotiations and construction. He wanted children to be able to move on into the world as it was today.

Kirkwood, who could be appointed but not elected, would not run again in two years unless the law had changed, and he had contacted legislators about that. A member of the Air National Guard, he saw himself as a leader who would roll up his sleeves, research and get the job done. He wanted to leave the district a better place than it was before he got there.

Jackson had a career in purchasing and development. He believed in public education and wanted the district to produce students who were consistently productive citizens. He saw that the community rallied around G-ASD. He would commit the time needed and was motivated to be a school board member with integrity.

The deliberations

Still, with a Hanks second, nominated Kirkwood.

"The public has spoken," he said, referring to Kirkwood's win Nov. 5. He garnered 1,345 votes, the most of the seven candidates seeking four seats. Hissong, the only incumbent running for re-election, was second with 1,184. The other results were Farley 1,111, Hanks 1,010, Ron Powers 825, Winslow 706, and Jackson 667.

Holtzman countered that other people may not have run at all, due to the restrictions of the Hatch Act of 1939, the reason Kirkwood stepped down. Baer was concerned about Kirkwood's inability to serve longer than two years.

"It takes a year to so to get acclimated to the job; then you can't run again," she said.

Hissong said he was looking for continuity, especially since the building project would not be done in two years.

Still was the only person to vote in favor of the appointment, five voted no and Hissong abstained.

Holtzman and Haines nominated Shindle.

Still said he was a good candidate but he wanted new blood. Holtzman liked Shindle's skill set and Baer liked his knowledge. Farley thought he should have run for re-election if he wanted to stay on the board.

Haines, Holtzman and Baer voted yes; Farley, Hanks and Still voted no. Hissong again abstained so the motion failed.

Hanks then nominated Winslow, with Farley making the second.

Hanks approved of his willingness to run again in two years. Haines and Baer cited his experience. Hissong liked Winslow's non-negotiable trait of being fair. Hanks saw him as thoughtful before responding to the questions.

The vote went 6-0 in favor of the appointment, with Hissong abstaining.

He later said he did not present any votes because several of the candidates were on the ballot with him.

"My heart said they ran against me and I wasn't going to vote against any of them."

The winner

Winslow was taken aback with the results of the evening.

"I was just kind of shocked. I couldn't be any more surprised, but I'm excited," he said.

He wanted to change the public perception of the board on some issues, including transparency. He planned to work on the presentation of information so people didn't think decisions were being made behind closed doors, he said. He also wanted to address classroom size and retirement funding.

"We need a plan to pay for PSERS (Public School Employees Retirement System). It's been exacerbated since we haven't looked at taxes for it, but it's an obligation."

Kirkwood was satisfied with the board's choice.

"They made a great decision. I completely support it."

Winslow will be officially sworn in on Jan. 9.