New member appointed to Cocalico School Board

By on January 10, 2018

The Cocalico School District appointed a new member to its ranks on Monday, naming a theater pro and current Cocalico parent to a two-year term.

Brett Buckwalter, 55, of Reinholds, will fill the vacant seat beginning Jan. 22.

He and Carol Wallace, an occupational therapist for the Eastern Lancaster County school district, applied for the position after the board officially announced a vacancy in Dec. James Kidwell was elected to a four-year term but notified the district in November that he was declining the seat for personal reasons.

During an hour-long public meeting Monday, Buckwalter and Wallace fielded questions from current board members, sharing their key concerns about the district and explaining how their professional experiences and leadership styles might bring new perspective to the board.

Buckwalter is a father of three whose sons graduated from Cocalico High School in 2015. His daughter is a sophomore.

Buckwalter said he and his wife chose to move into the school district when they moved back to the area from New York 13 years ago because of the district’s reputation for quality special education needed for their son Colin, who has cerebral palsy.

He said he would bring insights into parenting a child with special needs to the board.

Board members also questioned him about his role as a union representative at Reading Area Community College, where he is the technical coordinator for the Miller Center for the Arts. Buckwalter said he has championed health care issues and handled grievances for the union, but he sees his role as that of a team player.

He promised to bring the same approach to the board as it grapples with issues such as pension and tax reform.

“If you don’t work as a team and as a group, you don’t get the job done,” Buckwalter said.

The board voted 8-0 to select Buckwalter. He will be sworn in Jan. 22 and serve through Nov. 30, 2019. A special election will be held that fall for the remaining two years of the term, with a regular election for a four-year term again in 2021.

Several members urged Wallace to stay involved and seek election in the future.

Also Monday, Superintendent Elle Musser announced the resignation of Cocalico Middle School principal Bradley Testa, effective Jan. 3. Testa worked for the district for 8 ½ years, seven of those years as assistant principal. Musser said afterward that Testa cited personal reasons but would not elaborate.

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