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McGuffey hires district resident as assistant superintendent

October 20, 2017

Dr. Johannah Vanatta sat in the audience at McGuffey High School, appearing a little ill at ease Thursday night.“I’m nervous,” she said, smiling, during the executive session midway through the regular monthly school board meeting. She was on the agenda, awaiting a vote on whether she would become the district’s new assistant superintendent.She need not have been concerned. Vanatta’s hiring passed in an 8-1 vote of the directors, with Ed Shingle dissenting. She succeeds Laura Jacob, who resigned in early August.Vanatta was hired away from the North Hills School District, outside Pittsburgh, where she is assistant superintendent for secondary education. She will begin work at McGuffey Nov. 1, under a contract lasting four years and eight months. Her salary was not reported.Jacob was paid $107,681 during the 2015-16 academic year, according to topenpagov.org. The website listed Vanatta’s salary at North Hills that year as $123,300.She is a McGuffey taxpayer, living in the Taylorstown area with her husband, Aaron, a resource officer at Quaker Valley High School and part-time police officer in South Strabane Township. They have two children.Johannah Vanatta grew up in North Hagerstown, Md., but has extensive ties to Washington and Greene counties. She was a teacher in the Trinity, Washington and Jefferson-Morgan school districts, and performed administrative internships at Jefferson-Morgan and Upper St, Clair. Vanatta left Trinity for North Hills in March 2008 to be an assistant high school principal, and held that position for four years before being promoted.Vanatta got her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, principal’s certification from California University of Pennsylvania and superintendent’s letter of eligibility and doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh.Having an assistant superintendent has been a divisive point among residents, some of whom believe the rural district - with an enrollment of about 1,600 - does not have the enrollment to support paying more than one top administrator: Dr. Erica Kolat, the superintendent. No one in the audience of about 20, however, protested Thursday night.Directors also hired two instructors and a para-educator in 9-0 votes: Eric Wisler to teach technology education, Rachael Zahn to teach Spanish and Heather Redd as para-educator.The board also accepted Jason Kern’s resignation as head softball coach, Kern, who was hired this week as head softball coach at Penn State’s DuBois campus, was furloughed in June as the district’s transportation supervisor.