Shaler Area school board president says goodbye after 16 years

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With a break in his voice, James Giel closed the November meeting of the Shaler Area school board, over which he has presided most of the 16 years he served.

He had just received a plaque with a gavel commemorating his service from superintendent Wesley Shipley.

“Change is inevitable,” he told Mr. Giel and the other outgoing board members, Dean Ingold and Mary Lou Dixon, both with similar longevity on the board.

Mr. Giel, a Republican, lost by 170 votes to Steve Romac, a Democrat, in Shaler Area region three. Mr. Ingold and Mrs. Dixon did not run for reelection. They served region one and will be replaced by April Kwiatkowski and Timothy Gapsky, who both ran on a combined Democratic/Republican ticket.

Former Shaler Area superintendent Donald Lee also attended to say goodbye to these longtime board members, who worked closely with Mr. Lee until he retired in 2011.

“It’s a thankless job for no pay,” he said. “And I know you had a very difficult year last year but you provided a service that is unparalleled."

Mr. Giel will continue his role presiding over the board at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and as secretary for the Bread of Life food pantry in Etna.

The new board members, including Suzanna Donahue, Republican/Democrat in region two, who replaced longtime board member and former board vice president Domenic Donovan when he retired early several months ago, will be sworn in at school board reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Rita Michel, freelance writer:

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