Tyrone hallmark: Stability

The Tyrone Area School District is like the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of leadership longevity.

Whereas the Steelers have had only three head coaches since 1969 — Chuck Noll, from 1969 to 1991; Bill Cowher, from 1992 to 2006; and Mike Tomlin, from 2007 to the present — the northern Blair County school system in the weeks ahead will be hiring only its third superintendent in nearly half a century.

Current Superintendent Cathy Harlow is set to retire June 30 after serving in that role since 2013. Prior to becoming superintendent, she served as the district’s business administrator for 19 years.

Harlow’s predecessor was William Miller, who served as superintendent for 43 years.

For Steelers head coaches over the past half-century, that team has been a great place to work, because of the front office’s loyalty toward its on-the-field leaders. Meanwhile, the head coaches have demonstrated extraordinary loyalty to those at the top who are the ones who ultimately control the team’s destiny.

For Tyrone Area superintendents, the district has been a great place to work because of the hard-working, cooperative spirit of school board members past and present and, for the most part, absence of controversy.

Like the Steelers’ front office, board members, who control the district’s direction from above the superintendent’s “on-the-field” vantage point, have been top-notch regarding how they’ve interacted with — and respected — their front-line manager.

Apparently, the district’s excellent reputation extends well beyond Blair County, considering the number of candidates — 25 — that are still in contention to succeed Harlow.

Those individuals obviously relish the prospect of employment in such a positive work and leadership environment, and in a school system where students routinely produce high test scores, and where debt is not a source of agitation.

It’s true that, like in other districts, Tyrone leaders must keep alert to all good options for saving money. However, Tyrone is free from the pressures of those districts carrying a big debt burden and/or faced with troubling test scores.

Over the decades, the district’s leadership, on the board and in the schools, has served the school system well.

“We are a unique district for the fact that we are one of two or three that are debt-free and because of our high test scores,” said board member Brian Bressler.

“People are attracted to a district of this type,” he said.

That’s clear amid the current hiring exercise.

The school board has a big decision ahead, to keep the district moving forward. Board member Randy Miles was quoted in a Mirror article May 29 saying “it’s been a daunting task so far.”

That is as it should be. Amid those 25 candidates are a handful that board members will deem worthy of being finalists for the soon-to-be-vacant position. Beyond that, the board will be tasked with determining which one can best lead the district, going forward.

The board’s goal is to hire Harlow’s successor by the end of this month but, as Miles pointed out, “we have quite a few very good candidates, and I don’t know if we can make that deadline.”

Whether or not that initial time deadline is met, getting the right person for the job is what really counts — as the Steelers and their fans can attest.


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