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Fager resigns from Middletown school board, the fourth member to quit since October

Press & Journal Staff
Posted 6/26/17

For the fourth time in the last nine months, a Middletown Area School District School Board member has resigned.

Melvin Fager Jr. stepped down Wednesday, June 21, according to a Facebook post. …

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Fager resigns from Middletown school board, the fourth member to quit since October

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For the fourth time in the last nine months, a Middletown Area School District School Board member has resigned.

Melvin Fager Jr. stepped down Wednesday, June 21, according to a post on his Facebook page. Fager is a preplanning adviser for Fager-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory in Middletown.

Attempts to reach him were not successful.

Fager was appointed to the nine-member board in January 2007 following the resignation of Barbara Simmons and won re-election several times since then. Fager is on the November ballot for a four-year term and was guaranteed to be re-elected because four people are running for four seats.

“For more than 11 years I have been honored to serve on our Middletown School Board. It has been as much as an honor to serve as it has been to know the people of the school district voted me into the board. I have always served to the best of my ability for the kids and our district as a whole. My love for our community is what brought me back here after an unfortunate situation took me away. I wanted my kids to be Blue Raiders and I wanted to serve our community.”

The post continued: “With that said, as of this morning I submitted my resignation from the school board effective today. This has NOT been an easy decision in any way. The people that know me and my family know we truly love Middletown and that will never change. I will continue to find ways to serve the communities, but I feel the time has come to step down. Once again, I thank everyone for trusting me as your elected school board member. Go Blue Raiders!”

The resignations

All four resignations came without warning. None of the resigning board members provided any explanation for their departure to district residents.

Longtime member Terry Gilman of Royalton resigned Dec. 7, 2016. Gilman had served on the board for nine years and was re-elected in 2015.

Gilman’s resignation came just two days following the abrupt resignation Dec. 5 of Newton Davis, who had served as the board president throughout 2016. Last October, Michael Richards of Royalton submitted his resignation after serving 21 years.

In December, the board appointed Brian Keating, of Lower Swatara Township, to fill the seat vacated by Richards. The board then tapped Darnell Montgomery, also of Lower Swatara, to fill the seat vacated by Davis. Also at a December meeting, just minutes following Superintendent Lori Suski’s announcement of Gilman’s resignation, School Board President Linda Mehaffie called for nominations to fill the vacant seat and the sole person nominated was John Ponnett II. Ponnett, also of Lower Swatara, then immediately was sworn in by District Judge David Judy.

Despite this being the fourth resignation in the last nine months, Mehaffie said she isn’t worried about members leaving their posts.

“I’m not concerned at all because we have a great school board,” Mehaffie said, adding that there are “some great people” on the board.

She said she did not know why Fager chose to step down.

Filling the seat

The school board likely will appoint a successor for Fager. Fager said via Facebook that while he is not speaking for the board, in the past it has appointed someone already on the ballot to fill such an opening. He pointed out that Julie Gomboc-Turyan of Middletown is running for a two-year term in November and would be such a person. She is one of two candidates running for two two-year terms on the board.

“I do not know her but that a way she get some extra footage before she would be elected in November. just my thoughts from past experiences,” Fager said.

Fager might have been referring to Mehaffie, of Lower Swatara Township, who has served on the board only since 2015. She was elected its president in December 2016 following the resignation of Davis.

In August 2015, she was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Pamela Price. She then won a seat outright in November 2015, as she was already on the ballot.

Mehaffie said it is “too soon to say” who might replace Fager.

As far as selecting someone who is on the November ballot to replace Fager for the next five months, Mehaffie said the board is “still discussing that.”

“We didn’t make a final decision on anything yet,” Mehaffie said.

Fager is the school board’s representative on the Middletown Area Blue Raider Foundation, along with Mike Corradi.

Current members

The current makeup of the board is:

• Linda S. Mehaffie, president, term ends December 2019

• Mike P. Corradi, vice president, term ends December 2017

• Christopher A. Lupp, treasurer, term ends December 2019

• David S. John, term ends December 2017

• Brian F. Keating, term ends December 2017

• Darnell L. Montgomery, term ends December 2017

• John A. Ponnett Jr., term ends December 2017

• Jennifer M. Scott, term ends December 2019