Current Octorara schools Supt. Thomas Newcome
Current Octorara schools Supt. Thomas Newcome (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS -- ANGIE MASON)
Two candidates to be Dallastown Area School District's next superintendent fielded questions on subjects including budgeting, leadership style, community relations and academics during a public forum Thursday night.

The Dallastown district is searching for a new superintendent after Stewart Weinberg resigned earlier this year. A search committee started with 17 applicants and narrowed the field to two: Ronald Dyer, who has been Dallastown's acting superintendent since Weinberg left, and Thomas Newcome, who is superintendent in Octorara Area School District.

The board expects to know if it has settled on a candidate by the end of June. Here's a look at some of what the candidates had to say.

Acting Dallastown Supt. Ronald Dyer
Acting Dallastown Supt. Ronald Dyer (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS -- ANGIE MASON)

Finances and budget cuts:

Dyer: "I wish I could say we see an end to this, but we don't," he said, referring to the economy. The district has to look at its core functions and see what can be done more efficiently, he said. If there must be cuts, he said, the district should first look at the things that would touch students the least.

Newcome: "I have to first listen primarily to nine people," he said, referring to the school board members. They were elected to make decisions, he said, and the superintendent has to listen to the community and try to help guide the board.

Technology:

Dyer: Technology is a tool, not a template, he said. It should support and expand learning, but not drive it.

Newcome: Staff have to be able to understand and use the technology, he said, and he has to see how it will improve student learning. "I'm not big on technology for technology's sake."

Top priorities:

Dyer: Rebuilding communication pathways is a top priority, he said, and he wants people to find an "approachable superintendent." He wants to get the community to embrace, understand and support the district "in a positive way, all over again," he said.

Newcome: Traditional public schools need to get out ahead in the cyber world, he said. At the primary level, reading and math need to be priorities, and at the secondary level, making sure as many students as possible have access to the richest courses is important, he said.

Greatest strength:

Dyer: "I am a tenacious, persistent, and resolute person," he said. "Give me a goal and we'll work it through to completion."

Newcome: His greatest strength is his greatest weakness, he said. "I'm honest to a fault," he said.

Preparing students for a global economy:

Dyer: Having a robust, rigorous, relevant and engaging curriculum is key, he said. The district has looked at what others are doing when making decisions, such as moving to full-day kindergarten, he said. The district has been building curriculum maps and created a model of teaching, taking best practices into consideration.

Newcome: The district has to figure out how to deal with online and electronic options, he said, but at the end of the day, that's one tool or skill. Preparing students for a global economy isn't all that different from preparing them for a neighborhood -- just bigger, he said. They need to be able to communicate and present well.

Most pressing issues:

Dyer: The district has some "rocky ... perceptions" right now, he said. Some confidence might need to be restored, he said. But a stranger recently mentioned hearing good things about Dallastown, he said, and he wants that conversation to happen more often.

Newcome: He'd have to work to determine that his first days in the district, he said, noting he'd probably have to look into the reason the previous superintendent resigned.

Leadership style:

Dyer: Sometimes superintendents need to make decisions, sometimes seek others to offer input on decisions, and sometimes have others make them, he said. But things are best built with people around a table, he said, a style he prefers.

Newcome: A teacher in Southern York County School District once said that if Newcome had been at the Battle of Gettysburg, he'd have been Pickett, charging out in front.

"We all know that did not work out well that day," he said., but it's his nature. "Some days it doesn't work out for me."

The candidates

Ronald Dyer

Residence:York Township

Job: Dallastown Area School District assistant superintendent since 2005 and currently acting superintendent

Previous positions held: teacher, assistant principal and principal at the elementary level, and director of elementary in another district

Thomas Newcome II

Residence: Seven Valleys

Job: Superintendent of Octorara Area School District

Previous positions held: math teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant to the superintendent in other districts, including a job in Southern York County School District

The budget

The Dallastown Area School Board adopted a 2012-13 budget with no tax increase at a meeting Thursday night.

The budget will use a little more than $1 million of the district's fund balance.

Board member Ronald Blevins, who chaired the budget committee, said there was a lot of work done to shave down the initial budget gap of more than $5 million. He commended the teachers' association for agreeing to take a wage freeze for next year, saying that was "certainly a huge contribution."

Officials also commended an administrators group for agreeing to what amounts to a wage freeze for next year - a step up in base pay offset by contributing more to their health care plans.