TOWANDA - In a 7-2 vote, the Towanda Area School Board on Tuesday hired Andrew Doster, who has served as a principal in Susquehanna County, to be the new principal of the Towanda Area Elementary School.

Doster brings six years of administrative experience to the position.

For the past year, Doster served as principal of Mountain View Elementary School in Kingsley, Pa. Prior to that, he served three years as principal of Mountain View Junior/Senior High School, and two years as the school's assistant principal.

In conjunction with Doster's hire, the Towanda School District is reconfiguring the duties of its administrators.

The previous elementary school principal of the Towanda School District, Jennifer Farley, had served as principal of both the Towanda Area Elementary School and the J. Andrew Morrow Primary School.

Under the new configuration, Doster will serve as principal of only the Towanda Area Elementary School, which serves students in grades 3-6, Superintendent Steven Gobble said.

Pamela Hosterman, who has been serving as principal for curriculum, will now serve as principal of the J. Andrew Morrow Primary School and will also be the administrator of the Keystone to Opportunities grant-funded literacy program and will continue to serve as principal for curriculum, Gobble said.

The Towanda School District eliminated its assistant elementary school principal position a year ago.

The motion to hire Doster, at a salary of $80,000, was passed by a 7-2 vote of the Towanda Area School Board at a special meeting on Tuesday.

School Board member Bob Hettich, who voted against the motion, said he objected to the salary that Doster would be receiving.

Hettich said he was prepared to offer Doster a salary of $75,000. Hettich said he was concerned about taxpayers having to pay high salaries for principals.

But school board member Susan Portnoff said she was "really upset" about Hettich's comments.

Addressing Hettich, Portnoff said: "You said you would offer him $75,000 in hopes that he would grow into the position."

Portnoff added that Doster was the best qualified candidate.

"He blew everybody away" during the interviews, she said.

"With his qualifications, he will hit the ground running, if not flying," she said.

Besides serving as an administrator, Doster had worked for four years as an eighth-grade reading teacher at Tunkhannock Area Middle School and two years as a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Western Wayne Middle School in Lake Ariel, Pa.

Doster holds a bachelor's of science degree in Elementary Education from Bloomsburg University and master of science degree in Educational Leadership from Wilkes University.

After the school board voted to hire him, Doster told the board: "I'm very excited to be here."

"We're very excited to have you," Portnoff replied.

There were nine applicants for the principal position, and five of the candidates were interviewed, Gobble said.

Doster was the preferred candidate of the Towanda School District's interview committee, which worked on the search for the new principal, school board President Robert Fetterman has said.

The members of the interview committee were Gobble, Hosterman, and junior/senior high school Principal Dennis Peachey; school board members Evelyn Sherburne, Portnoff and Hettich; and teachers Ashley Roy and Allison Melusso.

In addition to Hettich, Keith Lamphere voted against the motion to hire Doster.

Those voting for the motion were Evelyn Sherburne, Mark Gannon, Guy Maryott, Peggi Munkittrick, Brooks Greenland, Fetterman and Portnoff.

Doster will start his new job on July 15.

Farley resigned recently to take a job as principal of Northeast Bradford Elementary School.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.