Mahoning educators cross county line
The new superintendents want to become familiar faces in the community.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- When Patricia Hura and Thomas Inchak looked at Columbiana and Leetonia schools, respectively, the longtime Mahoning Valley educators knew Columbiana County was the place to be.
The Columbiana school board accepted the retirement resignation of Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rottenborn on Dec. 19 and hired Hura. One day later, the Leetonia board hired Inchak to succeed Superintendent Lynn King, who died in September of complications from heart surgery.
Although both Hura and Inchak have spent time in their new districts, they will officially begin their duties Wednesday.
Top choice: Hura, the Trumbull Career and Technical Center's principal-director since 1999, was Columbiana's top choice of 27 candidates who applied.
"I am honored to be able to serve the district," she said. "All the candidates have extensive experience and are quality, talented people."
She wants to meet with teachers and staff as soon as possible.
"I need to get acquainted and do a lot of homework," she said.
The first challenge will be the district's 1.6-mill replacement permanent improvement levy on the Feb. 5 ballot. Treasurer Lori Posey said the expiring levy annually generates about $123,000, which is used for capital improvements and to purchase textbooks.
Hura, who lives in Canfield, said she wants to become a familiar face in Columbiana. She plans to meet with community leaders as soon as possible.
"There are great people here who are supportive of the school district," she said. "The people are warm and friendly."
She said she liked the idea that the interview process included community members and middle school and high school pupils.
Hura plans to introduce herself to the district's pupils by eating lunch with groups of them at both the high school-middle school and Joshua Dixon Elementary.
Her background: Before taking the job of principal-director of the Trumbull career center, Hura was principal of Champion Middle School. She has been a principal and teacher in the Mahoning Valley since 1967.
Hura is a graduate of McDonald High School and lives in Canfield with her husband, Richard, a principal in Newton Falls Schools. The couple have two children who are schoolteachers.
In Leetonia: With the passing of King, the Leetonia school board was concerned about hiring a superintendent in the middle of the school year. Inchak said, however, the Austintown superintendent and board knew he was seeking a superintendent's post and were gracious in allowing him to leave his central office position.
Although Inchak said that meeting with architects and the construction manager on the progress and status of the district's new kindergarten through 12th grade school building is a top priority, he noted, "There's still a lot of educating left to be done this year."
During the interview process he met with administrators and some staff and community people, but, like Hura, he wants to quickly get acquainted in his new community.
He plans to meet with teachers, classroom aides, cafeteria and maintenance workers as soon as possible.
Inchak also wants to meet with community leaders. He has already met Police Chief John Soldano and plans to spend time with Mayor Artie Altomare, a longtime Leetonia High School teacher and football varsity head coach.
"I've done all my educating in Mahoning County, so this is a new experience for me," Inchak said. "There's a lot of community excitement here, and it's great to be in a community whose focus is on its school system.
His background: Except for two years as assistant principal of Champion High School, Inchak has been in the Austintown district since 1976, starting as a high school social studies teacher and a football, softball and track coach.
He was high school assistant principal from 1989 to 1993, and then high school principal until 1998, when he took the position as director of instruction.
He lives in Austintown with his wife, Joanie, and they have three children. A son, Stephen, is a junior at Baldwin Wallace College. Another son, Nicolas, is a sophomore at Fitch High School, and their daughter, Monica, is a seventh-grader.