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The Cumberland Valley School Board appointed a new district superintendent on Tuesday night to assume the helm as Frederick Withum III retires.

David E. Christopher was awarded a five-year contact as the district superintendent with a starting salary of $180,000, district communications specialist Tracy Panzer said. Christopher was selected from an initial field of seven candidates, and his contract with the district was negotiated just hours prior to the school board meeting.

Christopher brings 23 years of educational experience to Cumberland Valley. He is finishing up duties as deputy superintendent in the North Allegheny School District in Pittsburgh’s suburban North Hills. He plans to relocate to the area with his wife, Aron, and their two school-age children “as soon as possible” to start with the district before the 2019-20 school year, he said.

“We’ve been very excited. (Cumberland Valley) is an amazing school district. It’s a great district, a great opportunity, and it’s near family,” said Christopher, whose mother lives in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County.

“We need to make sure we can manage our growing enrollment (at CV). We have a world that is rapidly changing and public schools need to change with it. We need to focus on important skills in today’s world for our students like problem solving and critical thinking,” Christopher said.

Background

Before starting at North Allegheny, Christopher served as an elementary teacher in Huntingdon Area School District and as an elementary principal, secondary principal and superintendent at Juniata Valley School District. He graduated from Juniata College with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and holds a master of education degree in educational leadership and policy from Shippensburg University. In 2018, he was awarded an educational doctorate from the Millersville University/Shippensburg University Joint Ed.D. program.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Christopher to the CV community and look forward to having him lead our district as our next superintendent,” School Board President Heather Dunn said on Tuesday before presenting Christopher with a red-and-white CV Eagles shirt. “Dr. Christopher’s knowledge of curriculum, finance, and technology will be paramount as CV faces the challenges of growing enrollment and changing demographics. Throughout the selection process, Dr. Christopher’s thoughtful approach and strong leadership skills resonated with the board of school directors.”

Christopher’s appointment as superintendent was approved by the school board in a unanimous vote. Barbara Geistwhite, who was vacationing out-of-town with her family, cast her vote via telephone during the meeting.

Withum announced earlier in March that he was retiring after six years as Cumberland Valley’s superintendent and total of 35 years in education.

“I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity, on behalf of the board, to thank Dr. Withum for his visionary leadership and for readying the district as we approach the transition to Dr. Christopher,” Dunn said Tuesday.

Other personnel moves and votes

Dunn also acknowledged the impending retirement of assistant superintendent for secondary education Gary Quigley, who attended his final school board meeting on Tuesday in that capacity. “We certainly will miss you,” Dunn told him.

Quigley came to Cumberland Valley in 1989 after teaching and coaching at Bishop McDevitt High School, where he also served as athletic director. In additional to his final position at CV, Quigley also served as a social studies teacher, social studies department supervisor, assistant principal at the high school and Good Hope Middle School and principal at Good Hope.

Also on Tuesday, Gregory Milbrand was officially sworn in as the district’s assistant superintendent for a five-year term with a starting salary of $139,750. Milbrand, who previously served as assistant executive director for Capital Area Intermediate Unit, was appointed to the position by the school board on April 8.

Also, Michael M. Willis was re-appointed by the school board for a five-year term as the district’s director of finance and operations with a starting salary of $160,000.

The school board also re-appointed Michelle Zettlemoyer as director of human resources/district compliance officer for a five-year term with a starting salary of $133,000.

Finally, the school board agreed on Tuesday to increase all district meal prices by 10 cents for the 2019-20 school year. A la carte item prices also will be adjusted for the upcoming school year.

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