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Cumberland Valley superintendent named PA Education secretary

Written by Tim Lambert | May 15, 2013 10:25 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Governor Corbett has named a midstate school superintendent as his new education secretary, with outgoing Ron Tomalis becoming an adviser on post-secondary education issues.

Corbett has nominated Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent William Harner to the post.

“From his days at West Point to his service at Cumberland Valley, Dr. Harner has shown himself as an effective problem solver able to unite all sides in a common goal of educational excellence,’’ Corbett said in a statement. “Those who have worked with him describe Dr. Harner as an accomplished student, born manager and decisive leader who can carry out our agenda of educational excellence in the face of any challenge.”

The 56-year-old Harner graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He served in command, teaching and staff positions at West Point and Chief of Policy & Strategy, U.S. Forces Korea in Seoul.

He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel and has a doctorate in educational leadership as well as a master’s degree in education supervision and human resources from the University of South Carolina. Harner worked as a middle school and high school principal before he was named school superintendent for the Greenville County Schools in Greenville, S.C.

"I am truly honored that Governor Corbett has asked me to serve as the next Secretary of Education," he said. "I look forward to working closely with the governor and members of the General Assembly as we strive to provide all Pennsylvania students with an exceptional education."  

Harner has served school districts in Gainesville, Georgia, Toledo, Ohio, and Philadelphia, and then was named deputy superintendent for the Recovery School District of New Orleans, where he oversaw the reopening of nine school buildings in the post-Katrina area. He came to Cumberland Valley School District in 2008.

"In his five years with Cumberland Valley School District, Dr. Harner has successfully endeavored to raise rigor amongst our students,’’ Barbara Gleim, president of the Cumberland Valley School District Board of School Directors said. "His overarching goal was to challenge all students to the best of their individual abilities. For this and all of his successes, we are truly appreciative. We wish Dr. Harner all the best in his new opportunity with the Pennsylvania Department of Education." 

Harner must be confirmed by the Senate. 

Tomalis' two-year tenure was both busy and rocky, coming at a time when the Corbett administration carried out deep cuts in aid to schools and universities. 

He will become Special Adviser to the Governor on Higher Education and will be responsible for overseeing, implementing and reviewing recommendations made by Corbett's Postsecondary Advisory Commission. 

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